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Feature Article: Streamlining Solar Technology

TESTINGThis article first appeared in Solar Today by Mike Koshmrl With 1000 "little cuts", SunShot aims to drop solar costs 75% in less than 10 years. It’s easy to be skeptical about the Dept of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative. The goal, installing utility-scale solar at $1 per watt by 2020, would bring solar costs down to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), roughly the cost of coal-fired electricity. The name, SunShot, is a play on President Kennedy’s 1961 pledge to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. DOE Secretary Chu announced the $27 million program in February, the funds for which will be spread among nine companies. How can $27 million make such a big impact? To achieve $1 per watt, the solar industry needs to streamline in a big way. It will need considerable module efficiency gains and slashed costs for installation, operations and maintenance and all other system components. Photovoltaic (PV) modules will need to come down 70%, inverters 55% and construction-related costs nearly 75%. "We’ll get there," says Frank van Mierlo, CEO of SunShot grant recipient 1366 Technologies. "Look at the historical cost curve of solar. The production costs come down 10% every […]

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Weekly Clean Energy Roundup: 5/25/11

TESTINGDOE Industry Partnership for Next-Generation Auto Technologies Groundbreaking Nevada Solar Project Gets Loan Guarantee 1800 EV Chargers Installed Under the Recovery Act New Wind Turbine Testing Center in Massachusetts DOE’s Los Alamos Labs Unlocking the Power of Algae Oil World’s Largest Medical Center Among the Most Energy Efficient USDA Program Provides More Flex-Fuel Pump Options DOE Industry Partnership for Next-Generation Auto Technologies On May 19, DOE announced U.S. DRIVE (Driving Research and Innovation for Vehicle efficiency and Energy sustainability), a partnership with industry to speed development of advanced cars and light trucks. In addition to technology development, U.S. DRIVE will address the infrastructure necessary to support their widespread use. Formerly known as the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, U.S. DRIVE brings together top technical experts from DOE, its national labs, and industry partners to identify critical R&D needs. As part of that effort, the initiative will develop technical targets and strategic roadmaps, and will evaluate R&D progress on a broad range of advanced vehicle and energy infrastructure technologies. Partners include: the US Council for Automotive Research (the collaborative research company for Chrysler, Ford and GM), BP America, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Shell, DTE Energy, Southern California Edison, the Electric Power Research […]

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EU Pushes for More Energy Efficiency

TESTINGby Rona Fried In 2008, the European Union launched an ambitious 20-20-20 plan for 2020, which would increase renewable energy to 20% of the mix, reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 1990 levels, and increase energy efficiency 20% compared to business-as-usual projections. The EU is on track to achieve the first two goals, but although energy efficiency is usually touted as the least expensive, easily achieved of the three goals, so far it’s turning out to be the laggard. One reason is that the first two targets are legally binding, but the energy efficiency goal is not. EU member countries are on track to increase energy efficiency just 10% by 2020, which prompted the Commission to intervene with a plan to raise it another 10%. They noted that legally binding measures may be necessary, but they are not starting with that. The new energy efficiency plan focuses on the three main sources of energy consumption – buildings, transportation and industry. 1. Buildings: create incentives to trigger the renovation process in public and private buildings, while improving the energy performance of components and appliances used in them. 2. Transportation: a forthcoming "White Paper on Transport" will cover advanced traffic management systems, […]

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Congressional Carbon Circus

TESTINGToday Reps. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Lois Capps (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Steve Cohen (D-TN) – members of the House Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) – joined with representatives from the Union of Concerned Scientists, American Lung Association, and Operation Free in calling for the House to reject the Dirty Air Act – H.R. 910. SEEC released the following statement opposing the legislation: "The Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition opposes H.R. 910, which represents a dangerous rejection of science and an attempt to gut the effective, bipartisan Clean Air Act. H.R. 910 has been mischaracterized as the "Energy Tax Prevention Act," but the bill is more aptly described as the "Dirty Air Act." Instead of accepting science, protecting Americans from air pollution, and working to create jobs and a sustainable and secure energy future, the sponsors of the Dirty Air Act have brought this bill forward in an attempt to provide yet another loophole for the nation’s biggest polluters. The American people overwhelmingly support the Clean Air Act, and will reject the Dirty Air Act." H.R. 910, which is officially known as the "Energy Tax Prevention Act" although it would not prevent any […]

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Global Cleantech Cluster Association Gives Entrepreneurs a Hand

TESTINGby Shawn Lesser Imagine what it would be like to replace a roof with roofing materials that generate solar electricity, without the large upfront payment. That’s what San Diego based, OneRoof Energy offers US homeowners. Instead of replacing the roof and adding solar panels separately, OneRoof works with contractors to combine roof replacement and solar installation. Homeowners don’t have to buy the system, they simply lease it under OneRoof’s SolarSelect® Lease. David Field, OneRoof’s CEO, understood that tackling the residential solar and roofing market would be difficult. He also knew he didn’t have to do it alone. He teamed up with CleanTECH San Diego, a local business incubator specializing in clean technology. By joining CleanTECH San Diego and its larger membership in the Global Cleantech Cluster Association, he’s expanding his network of connections and accelerating the company’s market penetration in California and Arizona. "For us it’s really been a cluster of like-minded companies," says Field. "…there’s a real focus in terms of supporting clean technology and emerging businesses here." CleanTECH San Diego is a "cleantech cluster." It guides member companies along the path of commercialization from start-up to IPO. Like many clusters, CleanTECH San Diego does this by connecting companies […]

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Wind: The Center of the Plan B Energy Economy

TESTINGby Lester Brown For many years, a small handful of countries dominated growth in wind energy, but this is changing as the industry goes global, with over 70 countries now developing wind resources. Between 2000 and 2010, world wind electric generating capacity increased at a frenetic pace from 17,000 megawatts (MW) to nearly 200,000 MW. Measured by the share of electricity supplied by wind, Denmark is the leading nation at 21%. Three north German states now get 40% or more of their electricity from wind. For Germany as a whole, the figure is 8% – and climbing. And in the state of Iowa, enough wind turbines came online in the last few years to produce up to 20% of that state’s electricity. In terms of sheer volume, the US leads the world with 35,000 MW of wind generating capacity, followed by China and Germany with 26,000 MW each. Texas, long the leading U.S. oil-producing state, is now also the nation’s leading generator of electricity from wind. It has 9,700 MW of wind capacity online, 370 MW more under construction, and a huge amount under development. If all of the wind farms projected for 2025 are completed, Texas will have 38,000 […]

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Weekly Clean Energy Roundup: March 22, 2011

TESTINGi6 Green Challenge Launched DOE Fellowships to Support Next Generation of Clean Energy Innovators Grant Helps Propel Innovative Wind Energy Small Business A Biofuels First: Producing Isobutanol from Cellulose i6 Green Challenge Launched DOE joined with the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration and its Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship on March 10 to kickoff the $12 million i6 Green Challenge. The 2nd annual i6 Green Challenge focuses rewards innovative, ground-breaking ideas that enable technology commercialization, new venture formation, green job creation, and economic growth. The funding supports six regional teams with the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in renewable energy, energy efficiency and green building technology/manufacturing, materials reuse/recycling, and environmental restoration. It aims to promote collaboration in each region by encouraging and rewarding innovative Proof-of-Concept Centers, which accelerate technology commercialization by assisting entrepreneurs and existing companies. The proposed centers should help to solve problems that impede technology commercialization in a given region. The partnership also includes the USDA, EPA, National Science Foundation, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Letters of intent are due by May 2, and the deadline to submit a full application is […]

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Advances in Green Building

TESTINGBy Rona Fried, Ph.D. Over the past few months, as the commercial construction sector shows signs of rebounding, there have been some major advances in green building policy and measurement. Luckily, they didn’t require Congress to pass legislation, or they never would have passed. Energy Conservation Codes Upgraded The International Energy Conservation Code was upgraded for 2012 – it now requires homes and buildings to achieve energy savings 30% higher than the 2006 code. Since homes and buildings produce fully half of US greenhouse gases and use over 75% of the electricity generated from power plants, the new code is a very significant energy policy decision. In fact, the changes represent the largest single-step efficiency increase in the history of the national energy code. About 500 state, county and city building and fire code officials from around the US voted to upgrade the code. The changes – which affect new construction and retrofits for homes, businesses, schools, churches and commercial buildings – were sought by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of State Energy Officials, various governors, American Institute of Architects and the broad-based Energy Efficient Codes Coalition (EECC). Local building codes across […]

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Renewable Energy: Where the States are Headed

TESTINGby Mike Koshmri, Solar Today The shift in political power following the November 2010 elections may threaten solar and wind policies in key states. Here’s what’s happening. Iowa Four years ago, former Democratic Gov. Chet Culver created the Iowa Power Fund, which provides matching grants and loans for renewable energy projects. The Power Fund has helped grow Iowa’s wind market into the nation’s second largest. New Republican Gov. Terry Barnstad campaigned against the Fund, telling the Sioux City Journal it was a "colossal failure" and the $25 million budget should be reallocated to reducing taxes. The Fund’s fate hangs in the balance. New Mexico One of the first moves for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez was to fire every member of the state’s Environmental Improvement Board for allegedly promoting "anti-business" policies. Then she appointed Harrison Schmitt, an outspoken climate change skeptic, to run New Mexico’s Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Department. Martinez halted new greenhouse gas emission regulations that passed in the closing days of former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration. The regulations were later reinstated by the state Supreme Court. Wisconsin Wisconsin’s solar and wind economies are booming, driven by a robust renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS), a statewide Focus […]

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Weekly Clean Energy Roundup: March 10, 2011

TESTINGDOE, Defense Boost Clean Energy, Energy Security Maine Wind Project Gets Loan Guarantee Geothermal Could Double by 2020 Geneva International Show Spotlights Green Vehicles DOE, Defense Dept Boost Clean Energy, Energy Security Building on last year’s MOU, DOE and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) announced new steps to strengthen national security on clean energy, on everything from advanced vehicles to energy storage. The Office of DOD’s Chief Technology Officer – the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering or ASDR&E – aims to exploit early technology breakthroughs funded through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). Using ARPA-E’s technical expertise in grid-scale energy storage, batteries for electric vehicles, and power electronics, ASDR&E plans to develop an energy storage device that will provide future defense systems with long-duration storage suitable for a variety of applications, including military bases and vehicles and eventually commercial grids. They will also work together to assess technology requirements for cost effective energy storage across military installations. On-site renewable electricity generation combined with grid-scale storage would allow defense installations to maintain critical functions in the event of grid disruption and to enhance installations’ efforts to develop micro-grids for energy security. The joint efforts will […]

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