Weekly Clean Energy Roundup: October 13, 2010

  • DOE Loan Guarantee Supports World’s Largest Wind Project
  • DOI Signs First U.S. Offshore Wind Lease
  • DOI Approves First Solar Tower Project on Public Lands
  • U.S. Energy Consumption Up 2.7% for First Half of 2010
  • DOE Awards Third Grant for U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center
  • Federal Energy and Water Management Award Winners

    DOE Loan Guarantee Supports World’s Largest Wind Project

    On October 8, the Dept of Energy (DOE) announced a conditional commitment for a partial guarantee of a $1.3 billion loan for the world’s largest wind farm, the 845 MW Caithness Energy’s Shepherds Flat project in eastern Oregon.

    Sponsored by Caithness and General Electric (GE) Energy Financial Services, the project consists of 338 GE 2.5xl turbines, which are being deployed for the first time in North America. Southern California Edison is buying all the electricity through 20-year fixed-price power purchase agreement (PPA).

    According to Caithness, the project will directly create 400 construction jobs, followed by 35 permanent wind jobs on site, while avoiding emissions equivalent to 212,000 passenger vehicles, or 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

    The Shepherds Flat project is the largest project to date to receive a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP), a DOE program supported by the Recovery Act. Under FIPP financing, DOE guarantees up to 80% of a loan for a renewable energy project by qualified financial institutions. See the DOE press release and the DOE Loan Guarantee Program Web site.

    Interior Dept Signs First U.S. Offshore Wind Lease

    The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and Cape Wind Associates signed the nation’s first lease for commercial wind development on the Outer Continental Shelf on October 6.

    The leased area covers 25 square miles on Horseshoe Shoals in Nantucket Sound, off the coast of Massachusetts. Cape Wind plans to erect 130 wind turbines in the leased area to generate up to 468 MW of electricity, with an average anticipated output of 182 MW. The 28-year lease will cost the company $88,278 in annual rent prior to production, and a 2%-7% operating fee during production.

    The Cape Wind project is the first wind farm on the Outer Continental Shelf, and could generate enough power to meet 75% of the electricity demand for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island combined. See the DOI press release and the Cape Wind page on the Web site of DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM).

    DOE’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) released a report that analyzes the key factors impacting the deployment of offshore wind power in the U.S.

    The report, "Large-Scale Offshore Wind Power in the United States: Assessment of Opportunities and Barriers," analyzes the technology challenges, economics, permitting procedures, and potential risks and benefits of offshore wind power deployment in U.S. waters.

    NREL finds that harnessing even a fraction of the potential offshore wind resource could create thousands of jobs and help revitalize the U.S. manufacturing sector, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, diversify U.S. energy supplies, and provide cost-competitive electricity to key coastal regions.

    To help address the challenges they identify, DOE and DOI launched several interagency efforts that focus on siting and permitting, standards and technical collaboration, resource assessment and design conditions, and environmental monitoring and mitigation. See the DOE press release, the report’s executive summary and the full report , and the interagency initiatives . And for more information on DOE’s efforts, see the Offshore Wind Technology page on DOE’s Wind and Water Power Program Web site.

  • Another recent NREL report, "Assessment of Offshore Wind Energy Resources in the United States," concluded there’s 4,150 GW of potential offshore wind capacity in the U.S. The estimate doesn’t exclude areas that could be excluded from energy development on the basis of environmental, human use, or technical considerations. According to DOE’s Energy Information Administration, in 2008 the nation’s total electric generating capacity from all sources was 1,010 GW. See the NREL press release and the report .

    Meanwhile, other offshore wind projects continue to go forward. Garden State Offshore Energy announced on October 4 that it’s moving forward with plans to install state-of-the-art mobile, floating wind resource assessment equipment to assess conditions at its proposed offshore wind farm site, located 20 miles off the New Jersey coast.

    Farther up the Atlantic Coast, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the State of Maine formed an offshore renewable energy task force to facilitate communication among BOEM and local, state, tribal, and other federal stakeholders concerning offshore leasing and development. Similar task forces have been established in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland, and are in process for New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.
    Lastly, the nation’s first freshwater offshore wind plant is also moving ahead, as the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) announced on September 14 that it has selected a team of three companies to develop an offshore wind farm on Lake Erie. The initial pilot project will be a five-turbine, 20 MW wind farm, located 5-10 miles off the shore of Cleveland, Ohio. Construction on the initial phase is tentatively scheduled to begin in late 2012. See the press releases from GSOE , the BOEM , and LEEDCo.

    Interior Approves First Solar Tower on U.S. Public Lands

    The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) approved on October 7 the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the first large scale solar project on U.S. public lands to use "power tower" technology.

    Proposed by BrightSource Energy, the project could produce up to 370 MW, enough to power 111,000-277,500 American homes. Located in San Bernardino County, California, the project is expected to create 1100 solar jobs. The DOI decision authorizes Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to offer BrightSource a right-of-way grant to use public lands for 30 years if all rents and other conditions are met. The site is in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, near the Nevada border.

    The three solar thermal plants will employ mirror fields that focus solar energy on tower receivers near the center of each array. Solar boilers in the towers generate steam to drive a turbine that generates electricity.

    The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013. To reduce environmental impact, BLM shrunk the size of the project by over 15%, from 4073 acres to 3471 acres, and it reduced the number of heliostats (solar mirrors) from 214,000 to 173,500.

    As part of the Recovery Act, renewable energy developers can apply for grants for up to 30% of a project’s cost if they begin construction by the end of 2010. Also under the Recovery Act, DOE awarded BrightSource $1.37 billion in conditional loan guarantees for this project. See the DOI press release and an fact sheet on Ivanpah .

    U.S. Energy Consumption Up 2.7% for First Half of 2010

    U.S. energy consumption increased 2.7% for the first two quarters of 2010, relative to the first two quarters of 2009, according to DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

    The EIA’s "Monthly Energy Review," issued on September 30, finds that U.S. energy consumption totaled 48.8 quadrillion Btu (quads) for the first half of 2010, compared to 47.5 quads for the first half of 2009. Because U.S. energy use dipped sharply in 2009, the total is still 3.9% less than the first half of 2008.

    The growth in energy use in 2010 closely tracks the first-half growth in U.S. economic activity. Figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce on September 30 show the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first and second quarters of 2010 increased 2.4% and 3.0%, respectively, compared to the same quarter in 2009, for a half-year average growth of 2.7%. See Table 1.1 in the "Energy Overview" section of the "Monthly Energy Review" and Table 8 in the press release from the Commerce Departments’ Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    Renewable energy consumption has also increased, with consumption in the first half of 2010 up 4.7% relative to the first half of 2009. According to the EIA report, the U.S. consumed 4.091 quads of renewable energy in the first half of the year, or 8.4% of U.S. energy.

    With some areas of the country facing droughts, year-to-year hydropower production was down by 8% for the first half of 2010, while consumption of wind power was up 21.4% and biomass energy from wood and wood-derived fuels was up 4.9%. Ethanol consumption was up 23.4% for the first half of the year, while biodiesel recovered from last year’s slump, increasing 18.9% relative to the first half of 2009 and 4.7% relative to the first half of 2008. See the "Renewable Energy" section of the EIA’s "Monthly Energy Review."

    DOE Awards Third Grant for U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center

    DOE announced on October 7 that its Lawrence Berkeley National Lab will receive $12.5 million over the next five years to lead a consortium on energy efficient building technologies under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC).

    The DOE funding will be matched by the consortium partners to provide at least $25 million in total U.S. funding, and Chinese counterparts will contribute an additional $25 million.

    Buildings account for nearly 40% of all energy consumption and carbon emissions in the U.S., while nearly half the new floor space built in the world every year is now in China.

    LBNL leads a consortium that includes DOE’s Oak Ridge National Lab, MIT, University of California/Davis, National Resources Defense Council, National Association of State Energy Officials, Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions, the Energy Foundation, Pegasus Capital Advisors, ICF International, Dow Chemical, Honeywell International,General Electric, Saint-Gobain, Bentley Systems, Inc. and ClimateMaster.

    President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao formally announced the establishment of the CERC during President Obama’s trip to Beijing last November. Two consortia were announced last month: one led by the University of Michigan to advance technologies for clean vehicles and one led by West Virginia University to focus on the next generation of clean coal technologies. Total funding for the CERC, including private and public investments in both countries, will be at least $150 million. See the DOE press release.

    DOE Names 2010 Federal Energy and Water Management Award Winners

    DOE announced on October 7 that 31 individuals, teams, and organizations across the federal government received Federal Energy and Water Management Awards for their efforts to improve energy, water, and vehicle fleet efficiency.

    Awardees saved taxpayers almost $42 million in energy and water costs in Fiscal Year 2009 and kept the equivalent of about 190,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. These efforts are also helping to move cutting-edge clean energy technologies into the marketplace, create new U.S. jobs, and strengthen national security.

    For example, the U.S. Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow in Barstow, California, was lauded for installing its first large-scale wind turbine, a 1.5 MW turbine that supplied 11.6% of the base’s electricity in FY2009 (3600 MwH). The Navy Region Southwest earned an award for being at the forefront of the Navy’s energy program. It replaced 21 billion Btu of fossil fuels with a combination of solar, wind, and geothermal, generating 4300 MwH of renewable energy.

    Together, this year’s winners saved 38 billion Btu by installing solar thermal and solar PV systems, wind turbines, and methane gas generated by landfills. They also saved 1.7 trillion Btu by upgrading heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment, and by installing high-efficiency lighting and energy management control systems. Winners also built certified green buildings with state-of-the-art technologies; implemented energy savings performance contracts, in which federal agencies partner with energy service companies to promote energy cost savings; and partnered in utility energy services contracts, in which utilities arrange financing to cover the capital costs of projects, which are then repaid over the terms of the contracts from cost savings generated by the energy efficiency measures.

    The 2010 Federal Energy and Water Management Awards winners were selected from nominations submitted by 17 federal agencies. Included among the award winners are employees from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy; DOE and the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs; the Environmental Protection Agency; the General Services Administration; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. See the DOE press release and the Web site for the 2010 Federal Energy and Water Management Awards.

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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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