CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
December 07, 2011
President Obama announced on December 2 nearly $4 billion in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next two years. These investments will save billions in energy costs, promote energy independence, and, according to independent estimates, create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector. The $4 billion investment includes a $2 billion commitment, made through the issuance of a presidential memorandum, to energy upgrades of federal buildings using long-term energy savings to pay for up-front costs, at no cost to taxpayers. In addition, 60 Chief Executive Officers, mayors, university presidents, and labor leaders committed to invest nearly $2 billion of private capital into energy efficiency projects. They also pledged to upgrade energy performance by a minimum of 20% by 2020 in 1.6 billion square feet of office, industrial, municipal, hospital, university, community college, and school buildings.
The commitments were announced by President Obama and former President Clinton along with representatives from more than 60 organizations as part of DOE's Better Buildings Challenge. The challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative launched in February by the president. President Clinton is spearheading the effort along with the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to support job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades to make buildings 20% more efficient over the next decade. Such improvements would reduce energy costs for U.S. businesses by nearly $40 billion. Last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20% of all energy used by the U.S. economy.
Among those pledging to reduce energy consumption were the District of Columbia, which is committed to a multi-pronged action plan to reduce energy consumption in more than 90 million square feet of city- and privately held buildings in the downtown core by at least 20% by 2020. And Prologis, a global leader in industrial real estate, has made it a key priority to work with its customers to reduce energy consumption in 100 million square feet by 20% by 2020. See the White House press release.
DOE announced on December 1 its $12 million in funding for the awardees of the Rooftop Solar Challenge. The Challenge supports 22 regional teams in 18 states to spur solar power deployment by cutting red tape. The effort streamlines and standardizes permitting, zoning, metering, and connection processes, while also improves finance options for residential and small commercial rooftop solar systems. This project is part DOE's SunShot Initiative, and is designed to make solar energy more accessible and affordable, increase domestic solar deployment, and position the United States as a leader in the global solar market.
Using a "race to the top" model, the Rooftop Solar Challenge incentivizes the regional awardees to address the differing and expensive permitting, zoning, metering, and connection processes required to install and finance residential and small business solar systems. The 22 teams bring together city, county, and state officials, regulatory entities, private industry, universities, local utilities, and other regional stakeholders to clear a path for rapid expansion of solar energy and serve as models for other communities across the country. The teams will implement step-by-step actions to standardize permit processes, update planning and zoning codes, improve standards for connecting solar power to the electric grid and increase access to financing. Non-hardware costs like permitting, installation, design, and maintenance currently account for up to 40% of the total cost of installed rooftop photovoltaic systems in the United States.
The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to make solar cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. See the DOE press release, a complete list of awardees, and the SunShot Initiative website.
DOE launched on December 2 the Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) initiative aimed at advancing clean energy generation in Indian Country. The initiative provides federally recognized Native American and Alaska Native governments with technical assistance to accelerate clean energy project deployment. This effort furthers DOE's commitment to providing tribes with the tools and resources they need to foster tribal energy self-sufficiency and sustainability, and to advancing economic competitiveness and job creation.
Through START, DOE and national laboratory experts will work directly with community-based project teams to evaluate financial and technical feasibility. The experts will also provide early development technical assistance to better position these projects for financing and construction. The initiative complements the DOE's Office of Indian Energy's efforts to make reliable and technical information and training available to tribal communities throughout the United States.
The START initiative will further serve to help Native American and Alaska Native communities increase local generation capacity, enhance energy efficiency and conservation measures, and create entrepreneurial and job opportunities in the new clean energy economy. Awards through this initiative will be provided through two programs. Tribes selected for the START program will be paired with DOE experts who have clean energy deployment experience relevant to the selected tribe's project development stage and technology. And, under the Alaska START Program, selected Alaska Native participants will leverage the combined technical expertise and resources of DOE and the Denali Commission for training to further clean energy projects such as energy storage infrastructure, renewable energy deployment, and housing energy efficiency. Concept applications are due January 15, 2012. See the DOE press release and the Office of Indian Energy's START website.
The EERE Network News newsletter final edition for 2011 will be on December 14, and then we will take a two week break. ENN will return on January 4, 2012. We look forward to keeping you informed on the latest energy efficiency and renewable energy news.
Deadline for Energy Department Business Plan Competition Approaching
If you're a university student interested in low-carbon technologies and entrepreneurship, then this is the premier opportunity for you to pitch your idea. The Regional Clean Energy Business Plan Competition is accepting business plan submissions until March 2, 2012.
Across the country, six regional competitions will serve as platforms for students to come up with innovative business plans to transform great clean energy ideas into great businesses. Based in California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Texas, the regional competitions span the entire nation and all U.S. territories. Each region is unique in its own right, but they all share the common goal of bringing clean technologies to the market through creative business solutions.
If you live in the Eastern Midwest region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky, and Wisconsin), the time for you to develop a business plan and register is NOW. The Eastern Midwest region's Clean Energy Student Challenge submission deadline was December 5, 2011. For the rest of the country, submission deadlines range from January 15 to March 2, 2012. You can learn more about each regional competition and the corresponding deadline here.
The six regional winners will each receive $100,000 in prize money and a chance to compete for a National Grand Prize at a competition held at DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2012. See the Energy Blog post.
Producing Clean, Renewable Diesel from Biomass
By Paul Bryan, Biomass Program Manager, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
After a rigorous testing process, DOE project partners at ThermoChem Recovery International (TRI) have validated a process that converts wood waste and forest residue into clean, renewable fuel. Pilot validation is a key milestone for biofuels companies like TRI. With critical engineering data in hand and the testing phase complete, TRI can now begin the journey toward full-scale commercialization of a proven technology.
With the support of DOE funding, TRI has done substantial testing of a thermal gasification and gas-to-liquids process at its pilot plant in Durham, North Carolina. Through its operations, TRI has converted several hundred tons of 100% woody biomass feedstock into diesel fuel and paraffin waxes. TRI has collected over 1,000 hours of operational data that validate the process, while meeting or exceeding all of their operational and product yield targets.
This achievement will directly benefit two biorefinery projects in Wisconsin that are cost-shared by DOE: NewPage Corporation's biorefinery, "Project Independence," in Wisconsin Rapids and Flambeau River Papers biorefinery in Park Falls. TRI's data will help inform final engineering design of their future biorefineries. The gasification and gas-to-liquids technology will be integrated into their existing pulp and paper mills to produce clean, renewable, marketable diesel fuel and paraffin waxes, and will provide additional renewable energy by supplying steam and hot water to the co-located paper mill. See Energy Blog post.
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CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES (CCRES)