News and Events August 23, 2012
The Obama Administration announced on August 16 the launch of a new public-private institute for manufacturing innovation. The new partnership, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, was selected through a competitive process to receive an initial award of $30 million in federal funding, matched by $40 million from the winning consortium. The consortium includes manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations from the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia "Tech Belt."
On March 9, 2012, President Obama announced his plan to invest $1 billion to catalyze a national network of up to 15 manufacturing innovation institutes around the country that would serve as regional hubs for manufacturing. The President called on Congress to act on this proposal and create the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation. Five federal agencies—the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce, the National Science Foundation, and NASA—jointly committed to invest $45 million in a pilot institute on additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital model. See the White House press release.
The Energy Department on August 20 announced a new partnership between its Challenge Home program and the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) on a voluntary certification process for energy-efficient homes. The partnership will streamline certifications for homes that can offset most or all of their utility bills with a small renewable energy system. These homes are referred to as "zero net-energy ready" homes. Home builders participating in these certification programs gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace by providing their customers with homes featuring energy savings, among other benefits.
The Energy Department's Challenge Home program certifies homes that are 40% to 50% more energy efficient than typical homes. It also helps to minimize the risk of indoor air quality problems and ensures compatibility with renewable energy systems. Through the Challenge Home program and its original Builders Challenge specifications, the Department has certified more than 13,500 homes, which are saving consumers more than $10 million each year. Among these certified homes, more than 1,350 are considered zero net-energy ready homes based on Home Energy Rating System (HERS) scores of 55 or lower. PHIUS certifies building designs that are 65% to 75% more energy efficient than a typical new home, even before installing renewable energy systems. PHIUS has also trained nearly 400 construction professionals to build these homes. See the Energy Department Progress Alert.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on August 14 announced that 106 projects in 29 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico have been selected to receive funding for the production of renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. Funding comes through the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
One example of a selected project is in Washington County, Iowa, where a recipient is receiving a guaranteed loan to construct a 50 kilowatt (kW) wind turbine at his agricultural business. The turbine is expected to generate approximately 103,200 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually—enough to meet the annual requirements of nine homes. WTE-Dallmann LLC in Calumet, Wisconsin, is another recipient of a REAP grant to help fund the installation of an anaerobic digester that will generate more than 4.8 million kWh of electricity—power for about 420 homes annually. The electricity will be sold to the local utility. See the USDA press release and the complete list of projects .
Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) announced on August 20 that its subsidiary has received approval from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a planned 1.5 megawatt wave power station off the Oregon coast. This is the first FERC license for a wave power station issued in the United States. The license provides a regulatory approval for the deployment of up to 10 OPT devices, generating enough electricity for approximately 1,000 homes.
Construction of the initial 150-kilowatt device is nearing completion and is expected to be ready for deployment about 2.5 miles off the Reedsport, Oregon coast later this year. The wave energy converter consists of an open steel cylinder extending downward into the ocean from a floating buoy. A piston is located midway down the cylinder, and as waves pass, the piston moves up and down along the cylinder, applying pressure to seawater-filled hoses that eject high-pressure seawater into a turbine, which drives a generator to produce power.
OPT has received funding for this first system from the Energy Department with the support of the Oregon Congressional delegation and from PNGC Power, an Oregon-based electric power cooperative. Specifically, FERC has granted a 35-year license for grid-connected wave energy production. After the initial device is deployed, OPT plans to construct up to nine additional devices and grid connection infrastructure, subject to receipt of additional funding and all necessary regulatory approvals. See the OPT press release.
|special thanks to U.S. Department of Energy | USA.gov|
The popular expression "go big or go home" means to go all the way. And an energy efficiency project at a paper manufacturer in Longview, Washington, went so big that it's thought to be the largest of its kind in the United States, ever. It's so big that the energy experts at ESource, who answer thousands of energy-related questions every year, couldn’t find a reported project that's saved more energy.
NORPAC is the largest newsprint and specialty paper mill in North America. Its 33-year-old mill produces 750,000 tons of paper a year and on a daily basis makes enough paper to stretch a 30-foot-wide sheet from their Northwest mill all the way to Miami, Florida. NORPAC is the largest industrial consumer of electricity in the State of Washington, requiring about 200 average megawatts of power—roughly 100 times more power than an average household uses in an entire month. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.