News and Events March 29, 2012
The White House on March 22 announced an offer of up to $35 million over three years to support research and development in advanced biofuels, bioenergy, and high-value biobased products. The projects will be funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI), a joint program of DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The programs will help develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass. They will also increase the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products that can help replace the need for gasoline and diesel.
For fiscal year 2012, applicants seeking BRDI funding must propose projects that integrate science and engineering research in three technical areas: feedstock development, biofuels and biobased products development, and biofuels development analysis. These technical areas are critical to the broader success of alternative biofuels production. Grants awards and national program leadership for the BRDI program will be administered by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Applications are due April 24, 2012, and must be submitted electronically. See the DOE press release and the Funding Opportunity Announcement on FedConnect.
The White House on March 22 announced a $14.2 million DOE effort to accelerate the development and deployment of stronger and lighter materials for advanced vehicles. The initiative will help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and limit carbon pollution.
The funding will support the development of high-strength, lightweight carbon-fiber composites and advanced steels and alloys that will help vehicle manufacturers improve the fuel economy of cars and trucks while maintaining and improving safety and performance. Replacing cast iron and traditional steel components with lightweight materials allows manufacturers to include additional safety devices, integrated electronic systems, and emissions control equipment on vehicles without increasing their weight. Using lighter materials also reduces a vehicle's fuel consumption. For example, reducing a vehicle's weight by 10% can improve the fuel economy by 6%-8%.
DOE intends to fund projects across three major areas of materials research and development, including developing modeling tools to deliver higher performing carbon-fiber composites, doing the same for advanced steels, and researching new lightweight, high-strength alloys for energy-efficient vehicle and truck engines. The department will accept applications from industry, national laboratories, and university led-teams to address these challenges and enable technologies that will drive innovation in vehicle design. Applications are due May 7, 2012. See the DOE press release.
The Obama Administration announced on March 22 that nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will commit to providing more than 15 million households access to data about their own energy use with a simple click of an online "Green Button." By providing consumers with information about how they are using energy in their households, Green Button can help them reduce waste and shrink bills.
Green Button is an industry-led effort that allows electricity customers to download their household or building energy-use data in a consumer- and computer-friendly format. The utilities and electricity suppliers making new commitments include: American Electric Power; Austin Energy; Baltimore Gas and Electric; CenterPoint Energy; Commonwealth Edison; NSTAR; PECO; Reliant; and Virginia Dominion Power. The utilities have agreed to base their Green Buttons on a common technical standard developed with a public-private partnership supported by the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Green Button-enabled web and smartphone applications promise to help consumers choose the most economical rate plan for their use patterns; provide customized energy efficiency tips; provide easy-to-use tools to size and finance rooftop solar panels; and deliver virtual energy audit software. See the White House press release.
The U.S. Army reported on March 19 that it will partner with industry to invest up to $7 billion over the next 10 years in renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy. The military department has released a draft request for proposal (RFP) that could allow multiple projects to begin nationwide. The draft RFP indicates that the Army intends to primarily purchase renewable-generated electricity through power purchase agreements with the project developers.
The investment will help the Army reach its goal of having 25% of its estimated 2.5 million megawatt hours come from renewable sources by 2025. In addition to energy conservation, installations will strive to establish alternative forms of energy that will allow them to "island" or continue to operate should the power grid fail.
The Army's Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF) serves as the central managing office to plan and execute large-scale renewable energy projects of greater than 10 megawatts (roughly enough to power 30,000 homes) on Army installations, which will be accomplished by leveraging private-sector financing. A renewable-energy project guide will be issued for comment later in the spring.
The task force has been working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a request for proposal under the Multiple Award Order Contract (MATOC). The MATOC provides a two-step process. In the first step, companies submit initial proposals and qualifications that are not project-specific. The draft RFP for the MATOC is out for public comment until March 24. The EITF plans to have a summit in May to meet with industry and discuss the renewable-energy development guide as well as specific projects. See the Army news report on the initiative and the draft solicitation on the Army Acquisition Business website.
|special thanks to U.S. Department of Energy | USA.gov|
San Antonio Small Businesses 'Seeing the Light' with Energy Upgrades
If you were going to a new gallery showing of your favorite local artist, would you want to view the canvasses under dim lights? Or if you were reupholstering your favorite sofa, would you want to look at fabric samples under fluorescent lighting and risk mistaking indigo blue for charcoal black?
Small businesses are a main economic driver in cities across the country—and San Antonio, Texas, is no different. Lighting may seem like a small detail, but as more than 800 small businesses in San Antonio have discovered, having the right lighting can improve business and conserve energy. With more than 40% of a company's energy consumption coming from interior lighting, upgrading to more efficient lighting can dramatically reduce a company's energy consumption and lower utility bills.
As part of San Antonio's "Mission Verde" initiative, the city launched the City Lights Small Business Lighting Retrofit Program using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding through DOE's The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. The City Lights program is helping business owners increase their lighting efficiency, reduce energy use, and lower electricity bills.
In the first 10 months of City Lights, participating small businesses saved an estimated 4.9 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. Beyond these savings, the program trained and employed local energy audit experts and electrical contractors, who helped businesses identify potential energy and cost saving measures. Read the complete story in DOE's Energy Blog.
DOE Launches Apps for Energy
Get ready to change the way you think about your utility bill data.
With the DOE's new Apps for Energy competition, we're challenging developers to use the Green Button data access program to bring residential and commercial utility data to life.
DOE—in partnership with Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Itron, and Gridwise Alliance—is offering $100,000 in cash prizes to the software developers and designers that submit the best apps, as judged by a prestigious panel of judges selected from government, the energy industry, and the tech community.
Apps for Energy leverages Green Button, an initiative that gives access to energy usage data in a streamlined and easy-to-understand format. In addition to leveraging Green Button, app developers are encouraged to combine data from a variety of sources to present a complete picture of the customer's energy usage. Read the complete story in DOE's Energy Blog and the DOE press release.