Weekly Clean Energy Roundup: December 16, 2009

  • US to Deploy Clean Energy in Developing Countries
  • DOE Issues Final Rule on Loan Guarantees
  • Anaerobic Digesters Help Cut Dairy Emissions 25% by 2020
  • EVs Coming in 2010 from GM, Toyota, and Fisker
  • California Releases Preliminary Cap-and-Trade Rules
  • DOE Launches Energy Tech Information Wiki
  • DOE Enforces Appliance Standards
  • Status Quo: U.S. CO2 Emissions to Grow 8.7% by 2030

    US to Help Deploy Clean Energy in Developing Countries

    Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced on December 14 that the US is contributing at least $85 million to an international initiative to promote clean energy technologies in developing countries.

    Speaking at the Copenhagen climate conference, Secretary Chu said that a new five-year, $350 million Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative, or "Climate REDI," will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and improve public health in developing countries via three new clean energy technology programs:

    The Solar and LED Energy Access Program, designed to deliver affordable solar home systems and light-emitting diode (LED) lanterns to people without electricity, providing alternatives to polluting kerosene;

    The Clean Energy Information Platform, an online platform for sharing clean energy information, such as resource maps, policies, and deployment hotspots; and

    The Super-Efficient Equipment & Appliance Deployment Program, intended to improve the efficiency of appliances traded throughout the world by coordinating incentives, standards, and labeling systems among countries participating in the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF). The MEF consists of 17 major developed and developing countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the US.

    Climate REDI also includes the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP), a program of the Climate Investment Funds, which are a collaborative effort of donor countries and multilateral development banks, including the World Bank. SREP will provide policy support and technical assistance to low-income countries that are creating national renewable energy strategies, and it will underwrite the capital costs of renewable energy investments.

    The US will contribute $50 million to SREP-building on about $210 million pledged by other countries-to help launch the fund in 2010. Overall, Climate REDI is a "quick-start" initiative to complement the much broader technology and finance mechanisms of an international climate agreement. It will coordinate closely with other programs that promote clean energy technologies in developing countries. See the DOE press release, Secretary Chu’s presentation (PDF 68 KB), the World Bank press release, and the SREP page on the Climate Investment Funds Web site.

    Secretary Chu also announced that the MEF countries have released 10 Technology Action Plans under a global partnership agreement established in July to develop and deploy clean energy technologies.

    The plans summarize the mitigation potential of the technologies, highlight policies that represent best practices, and provide a menu of specific actions that countries can take individually and collectively to accelerate development and deployment.

    8 of 10 Technology Action Plans address energy efficiency and renewable energy, including advanced vehicles, bioenergy, building energy efficiency, industrial energy efficiency, marine, solar and wind energy, and Smart Grid technologies. In addition, two of the action plans address fossil fuels, including carbon capture, use, and storage and high-efficiency, low-emissions, coal-fired power. An extra report addresses global gaps in clean energy research, development, and demonstration activities.

    As a way to drive all this work forward, Secretary Chu plans to host the first Clean Energy Ministerial for MEF and other countries in Washington, D.C., in 2010. See the Technology Action Plans on the MEF Web site.

    DOE Issues Final Rule on Loan Guarantees

    DOE issued a final rule amending regulations for its Loan Guarantee Program on December 4. The revised rule allows for increased participation in the program by financial institutions and other investors, and will enable the support of more innovative energy technologies in the US.

    Under the rule change, the Loan Guarantee Program will be able to consider financing projects together with other lenders and will be able to provide loan guarantees to projects with multiple participants. As an example, export credit agencies and other financial institutions will now be able to provide financing to complement the loans guaranteed by DOE. This approach will result in lowered risk, while minimizing potential costs to taxpayers.

  • DOE’s Loan Guarantee Program paves the way for federal support of clean energy projects that use innovative technologies, and is aimed at spurring further investment in these advanced technologies. The department incorporated feedback from industry and other interested parties to maximize the reach and success of the program. See the DOE press release, the final rule (PDF 108 KB), and the Loan Guarantee Program Web site.

    Anaerobic Digesters to Help Cut Dairy Emissions by 25% by 2020

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on December 15 an agreement with U.S. dairy producers to cut their GHG emissions 25% by 2020 by turning manure into electricity using anaerobic digesters.

    Under a MOU signed by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy , the USDA, and dairy producers, the groups agreed to work together to reach the target. USDA will contribute by undertaking research initiatives, allowing implementation flexibility, and enhancing efforts to market anaerobic digesters to dairy producers.

    Anaerobic digester technology is a proven method of converting waste products, such as manure, into electricity. Currently, only about 2% of U.S. dairies that are candidates for a profitable digester are using the technology, even though dairy operations with anaerobic digesters routinely generate enough electricity to power 200 homes.

    The agreement will also encourage R&D of new technologies to help dairies reduce greenhouse gas emissions. See the USDA press release and the description of anaerobic digesters on DOE’s Energy Savers Web site.

    Electric Cars are Coming in 2010 from GM, Toyota, and Fisker

    Automakers are intensifying the pace to roll out electric vehicles (EVs), with GM, Toyota, and Fisker Automotive announcing their production schedules at the Los Angeles Auto Show in California in early December.

    GM’s Chevy Volt, an extended-range EV, will be available late next year in California only, and in additional markets later. GM is investing $336 million in its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant to begin Volt production in late 2010. GM is also partnering with three California utilities and the Electric Power Research Institute in a real-world demonstration to establish vehicle charging stations and to introduce the Volt to consumers. GM is drawing on more than $30 million in ARRA funds from DOE for the project. See the GM press releases on the Volt sales and the Detroit plant, as well as the Volt Web site.

    Meanwhile, the 2010 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid vehicle (PHV) made its North American debut at the Los Angeles show. Based on the third-generation Prius, the latest version adds a lithium-ion battery that enables all-electric operation at higher speeds and longer distances than the conventional Prius hybrid.

    The new Prius PHV is designed to use the all-electric mode for trips of about 13 miles. After that, it reverts to the hybrid mode like a regular Prius. Toyota plans to deliver 150 vehicles to the US early in 2010, placing them in regional clusters for consumer tests and technical demonstrations.

    For instance, Toyota will place 10 Prius PHVs with residents of Boulder, Colorado, under a regional partnership with Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity program. The residents will participate in an interdisciplinary research project coordinated by the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, a new joint venture between DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the University of Colorado at Boulder. See the Toyota press release and the Prius PHV Web site.

    Fisker, a start-up founded in August 2007, says it will begin delivering its Karma plug-in hybrids in the third quarter of 2010. Fisker is backed by a $528.7 million conditional loan from DOE and operates from its global headquarters in Irvine, California, with an engineering facility in Pontiac, Michigan.

    The Fisker Karma was displayed at the Los Angeles Auto Show along with a wide array of fuel-efficient and electrified concept and production cars, including the tiny Honda Personal-Neo Urban Transport (P-NUT for short) concept and the CMT-380 concept, an extended-range EV that draws on a 30-kilowatt microturbine from Capstone Turbine Corp. once its battery pack runs low on power. In essence, the CMT-380 is an EV with a quiet jet engine under its hood. See the Fisker press release (PDF 173 KB) and Web site, the press releases from Honda and Capstone, and the LA Auto Show Web site.

    California Releases Preliminary Rules for Cap-and-Trade Program

    The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a preliminary draft version of California’s GHG cap-and-trade system on November 24. As proposed, the cap-and-trade regulations take effect in 2012 and apply to 605 of the state’s largest stationary GHG emitters, including industries and power plants, along with electricity imports.

    Starting in 2015, the regulations also apply to fuel suppliers, to address emissions from vehicles and from smaller stationary GHG emitters, such as homes and commercial businesses.

    The regulations set a cap on GHG emissions that declines each year through 2020, to help reduce the state’s GHG emissions to 1990 levels – a decline of about 15% from today’s emission levels.

    The cap-and-trade program is just one part of achieving this goal; other measures include building and appliance efficiency standards, strong energy efficiency programs, a statewide renewable energy requirement, clean car standards, a low-carbon fuel standard, and targeted usage fees. The goal was set by the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2006.

    When fully in place, the program would cover 85% of California’s GHG emissions. For flexibility, the trading program is intended to be linked to the Western Climate Initiative, which includes a large portion of Canada and the western US. See the ARB press release, the draft cap-and-trade regulation (PDF 803 KB), and for background, the scoping plan for achieving the state’s GHG goal (PDF 3.5 MB).

    CARB also announced in mid-November that more than 97% of the state’s 605 largest GHG-emitting facilities are complying with its mandatory reporting requirements for GHG emissions. To date, 591 facilities have completed 2008 GHG emissions reports. CARB is working with the remaining facilities to meet their reporting requirements.

    Additionally, CARB noted that California is the first state to accredit third-party professionals to verify reported GHG emissions. The first graduates to receive accreditation include 101 individual verifiers and 17 businesses. CARB’s goal is to accredit 200 by year’s end. Verifiers can contract to review and substantiate emissions reports filed by the largest sources of GHG emissions in the state. Verification of all reported emissions will be required starting in 2010. CARB adopted a mandatory reporting regulation for the state’s largest stationary facilities in late 2007, in preparation for the coming cap-and-trade regulations. See the ARB press release and the GHG reporting Web page.

    DOE Launches Public Web Site for Energy Technology Information

    DOE unveiled Open Energy Information, an open-source Web platform that will make DOE resources and energy data widely available to the public. The data and tools housed on the free, editable, and evolving wiki platform will help deploy clean energy technologies across the country and around the world.

    The site currently houses over 60 clean energy resources and data sets, including maps of worldwide solar and wind potential, information on climate zones, and best practices. OpenEI.org also links to the Virtual Information Bridge to Energy (VIBE), which serves up Web gadgets that display energy data. See the DOE press release, the OpenEI.org Web site, and the VIBE Web site.

    The Open Energy Information Web site is part of a broader effort at DOE, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and across the Obama Administration to promote the openness, transparency, and accessibility of the federal government. DOE is also contributing various tools and data sets for the National Assets program, being undertaken by a group of six departments and agencies across the federal government. The program will increase access to information on publicly funded technologies that are available for license, opportunities for federal funding and partnerships, and potential private-sector partners. See the National Assets program on the federal Data.gov Web site.

    DOE Enforces Reporting Requirements for Appliance Standards

    On December 9, DOE announced that manufacturers of certain residential products have until January 8, 2010 to submit accurate certification reports and compliance statements as part of DOE’s enhanced enforcement of its appliance standards for energy efficiency.

    Under federal law, manufacturers of some products covered by DOE appliance standards are required to certify their models meet the standards. Those that have fallen short of this requirement can rectify the situation in the next 30 days without penalty. The 30-day grace period will help DOE ensure compliance with regulations, sanction those who fail to comply, and treat all those subject to the requirements fairly and equally.

    Following this 30-day window, DOE will aggressively enforce reporting requirements, including seeking civil penalties or fines. The grace period doesn’t apply to violations of the actual energy efficiency standards, as DOE will continue to take action against any manufacturer whose products don’t meet the standards. Both manufacturers and companies that trademark or label products are subject to reporting requirements.

    The requirements include a certification report for each basic appliance model covered by the energy standards, along with a signed compliance statement. See the DOE press release and fact sheet (PDF 42 KB), as well as the Web site for DOE’s Appliances and Commercial Equipment Standards Program.

    EIA: U.S. Energy-Related CO2 Emissions to Grow 8.7% by 2030

    In the absence of new policies, U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from energy use will increase from 5,814 million metric tons in 2008 to 6,320 million metric tons in 2035, according to DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). That represents an average annual growth of 0.3% per year.

    Energy-related CO2 emissions dominate overall U.S. GHG emissions, so the overall emissions are expected to follow the same trend. The growth rate is slower than that of the past 20 years, when U.S. GHG gases increased at an average annual rate of 0.7%. But it falls fall short of President Obama’s recent pledge to reduce GHG in the range of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.

    The EIA released the main conclusions of the reference case for its "Annual Energy Outlook 2010" on December 14, although the full report won’t be available until March 2010. The reference case projects a lower long-term price for oil than the 2009 reference case, but petroleum demand remains essentially constant, as biofuels meet most of the growth in demand for liquid fuels.

    However, the report predicts that biofuels will fall short of the 36 billion gallons required by 2022 under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. The report also expects flex-fuel vehicles and EVs to dominate car and light truck sales by 2035, helping to achieve an average light-duty fuel efficiency of 40 miles per gallon. The EIA expects these and other energy efficiency measures and structural changes in the U.S. economy to keep overall energy growth low, with energy consumption increasing by only 14% over the next 27 years.

    Growth in electricity demand is also expected to be relatively low, averaging only 1% per year, with non-hydropower renewable energy and natural gas providing most new capacity additions over the next 27 years. Non-hydropower renewable sources are expected to meet 41% of the growth in total electricity production, causing the percentage of the nation’s electricity produced from renewable energy (including hydropower) to increase from 9.1% in 2008 to 17% in 2035, taking market share away from coal power. Meanwhile, U.S. production of natural gas from shale will cause domestic natural gas production to increase, keeping imports of liquefied natural gas at low levels. See the EIA press release and the early release of the "Annual Energy Outlook 2010."

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    EREE Network News is a weekly publication of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

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