This was a pretty big week in energy news. First, Senators John Kerry & Joe Lieberman introduce the American Power Act(greatest name ever). Then, to help drive home the need for a comprehensive energy bill, the EPA announced new regulations for greenhouse gas emissions, reminding legislators that if they don't act, the EPA will. Unfortunately, it may not have the desired effect, as Senator Lisa Murkowski (or, as I call her, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer), has indicated plans to bring up legislation to remove this power from the EPA. For more info check out this diary from RL Miller. With that said, on to the energy.
Mixed news from New Jersey. First, evidence of a thirst for solar power from Garden State residents:
New Jersey has become the latest state where an unprecedented surge of applications for solar photovoltaic incentives has suddenly exhausted funding.
The New Jersey Clean Energy Program announced Tuesday that "Effective immediately, solar rebate applications are no longer being accepted."
Applications submitted by solar PV consumers after the notice was posted Tuesday on the program's website, as well as incomplete or illegible applications, "will be returned to the applicants without exception and funds will not be reserved," the notice said.
At least 1,110 applications were submitted on the first day the latest funding cycle opened May 3, the agency said, far in excess of any previous demand for the state incentive program. For existing residential buildings, the latest funding cycle offered a rebate of up to $1.35 per watt for systems of up to 10 kilowatts of rated production capacity.
Seems encouraging right? Like people in NJ really want solar energy. Well, they do. Unfortunately, they got screwed over by their Governor:
Last week, New Jersey ran out of four months' worth of solar rebates in a day. Less money was available than originally budgeted for in December because Gov. Chris Christie took $158 million from the Clean Energy Fund to help close an $11 billion state budget gap.
More than 1,000 people, including some contractors who camped out the night before, claimed $6 million in residential and $1.5 million in non-residential one-time payments when the Office of Clean Energy opened May 3. The Board of Public Utilities closed the normally four-month distribution period until the next scheduled disbursement Sept. 1.
How long before Chris Christie is impeached?
Does anyone remember when Charlie Crist was a conservative?:
Gov. Charlie Crist said today a renewable energy package will also be part of an upcoming special session that will focus on a constitutional ban against oil drilling off Florida’s coast.
Crist said he expects the session to occur in "a couple of weeks," with the primary aim being placing a constitutional amendment on the November general election ballot that would prohibit drilling for oil and natural gas in state waters. But Crist said promoting renewable energy will also be part of the agenda.
"I want to talk about wind, nuclear, solar, natural gas (and) other alternative means to providing energy to our people in the wake of what has happened in the Gulf," Crist said.
The departments of Energy & Agriculture are spurring biofuel development:
DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on May 6 jointly announced up to $33 million in funding for biomass research and development. The funding will support projects and processes that produce advanced biofuels, bioenergy, and high-value biobased products. Advanced biofuels produced from these projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50%, as determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Proposed projects must also integrate all three technical areas addressed by the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, namely feedstocks development, biofuels and biobased products development, and biofuels development analysis. Pre-applications are due on June 7.
The Department of Agriculture also put out this video on biofuels:
The DOE also awarded $60 million to small businesses developing clean energy technologies:
DOE announced on May 7 that $60 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding is available to continue supporting innovative small business research and development leading to the deployment of clean energy technologies. This announcement starts the second phase of DOE's Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program. In the first phase, DOE awarded 125 grants of up to $150,000 to 107 small advanced technology firms across the United States, competitively selected from 950 applicants across the United States. The second phase will provide continued support to first-phase awardees that have demonstrated successful results with their new technologies and can now show their potential to meet market needs. DOE expects to make 58 awards of up to $1 million for SBIR awardees and up to $750,000 for STIR awardees.
GM is going green. First, in Hawaii:
Hawaii is set to get the first hydrogen fueling infrastructure in the United States thanks to a pilot project announced today by General Motors and The Gas Company. The Gas Company is the local natural gas and propane utility on the island state. Hawaii makes an ideal location for testing new transportation technologies as a result of its isolation, and the relatively small size of the islands means that you can never get all that far from the fueling network.
The Gas Company (TGC) has been producing both synthetic natural gas (SNG) and hydrogen for several years. The SNG that it distributes to customers through its island pipeline network is currently blended with five percent hydrogen, a percentage that could be increased as needed.
The new pilot project will set up a network of 20-25 hydrogen filling stations on Oahu that will tap directly into the pipeline network. Such a network can provide fuel access to to most drivers within a 10 minute drive. Pure hydrogen can be separated from the flow through a pressure swing absorption system and then used to fill fuel cell vehicles.
And, in general:
More than half of the 1,300 patents filed by General Motors Co. in 2009 are green innovations, evidence of the rapid development by GM researchers and engineers. A study of the patent activity of the top-15 global automakers released by the Intellectual Capital Merchant Banc firm Ocean Tomo, LLC highlighted GM’s leadership in this area.
I know we're not supposed to talk about Arizona, but there is an interesting energy development from that state:
But if you’re persistent enough, and/or your landlord or management company is forward thinking enough, you might not be out of luck after all. Case in point: Tucson Rental Homes, a rental management company working to develop "super energy efficient" rentals, has installed its first electric vehicle charging point in one of their complexes in Arizona even though there really aren’t any mass market EVs available yet.
Built by Coulomb Technologies, the networked ChargePoint station is "open to all drivers of plug-in vehicles." To gain access to the charge station, drivers simply need to call the round-the-clock toll-free number on the station, or sign up ahead of time to get a ChargePass card.
The Department of Energy strikes again, this time funding research of geothermal energy:
The US Department of Energy today released a new Funding Opportunity Announcement for up to $20 million for research, development, and demonstration of cutting-edge geothermal technologies that could reduce US demand for fossil fuels and significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions.
DOE’s objective through this funding opportunity is to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of non-conventional geothermal energy technologies in research areas including low-temperature fluids, geothermal fluids recovered from oil and gas wells, and highly pressurized geothermal fluids. This three-topic FOA will focus on areas associated with geothermal energy as outlined in the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005, section 931(a)(2)(C):
Low-Temperature Geothermal Fluids at temperatures up to 300° Fahrenheit (F) or approximately 150° Celsius (C).
Geothermal Fluids Coproduced from productive, unproductive, or marginal oil and/or gas wells; other hydrocarbon production; or mineral recovery/mining operations.
Geopressured Resources that show potential for economic recovery of heat, kinetic energy, and gas.
So, maybe you've heard about the Nissan Leaf. You're intrigued, but not quite sure you want to make it your primary vehicle. Why not take it for a test spin:
In this vein, Hertz just announced that they will be including LEAFs in select rental fleets around the country starting next year. This makes Hertz the first rental car company in North America to commit to EVs. So for those of you fence sitters, or those of you that just want a novel experience, seems you’ll have a chance to test it out without having to befriend a LEAF owner.
Following only 7 months after receiving a $39 million federal stimulus grant to build it, and only 2 months after announcing a partnership with FedEx to provide all-electric parcel delivery trucks, Navistar is showing that it’s ready to commence full scale production of its groundbreaking commercial delivery truck — which now has a name — the eStar.
Navistar claims that they will be able to produce 4,000 of the trucks this year, and that roughly 200 organizations have already expressed interest in placing the vehicles in their fleets. Amazing, considering the initial offering price of the eStars is a gargantuan $150,000. That’s about $100,000 more than a similarly-equipped commercial diesel truck.
Although that may seem like a ridiculous premium, consider this: A typical commercial route driven in a 6 mpg diesel truck that is about 90 miles per day, 6 days per week, 52 weeks per year could cost between $11-12K per year in fuel. That’s even with a commercial fuel contract locked in at $2.50 per gallon of diesel. Over the 15 year expected lifespan of these commercial vehicles, that $100,000 premium could easily pay for itself.
The trucks have a 100 mile range, can carry up to 4,400 pounds and have a gross vehicle weight rating of 12,100 pounds.
A lasting achievement of the New Deal is going green:
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a sprawling utility company owned by the U.S. government, has announced that it has begun transmitting 300 megawatts of wind power to its customers courtesy of a wind farm in Illinois. It’s the first installment in a plan to provide 1,380 megawatts of Midwestern wind to the Southeastern U.S.
All those megawatts sound pretty impressive – er, maybe not. TVA generates power from other low-emission or zero-emission sources including hydro and nuclear, but its 11 coal fired plants still account for about half of its generating capacity, weighing in at 14,469 megawatts. It will take a much larger wind purchase program to push coal aside. The way things are going, that could happen sooner rather than later.
More renewable energy coming to New Mexico. This time, it's wind:
Following a short Cibola County Commission executive session on May 12, the commissioners voted unanimously to support Resolution 1017. The resolution was in support of the county's intention to finalize plans with Red Mesa, LLC, for a 102.4 megawatt wind energy center on the eastside of Cibola County near Seboyeta. The project will occupy approximately 5,000 acres of private land 60 miles northeast of Grants.
The project is expected to create nearly 125 jobs during construction with 10 quality jobs once the wind project is in operation.
More wind energy developments, from Hawaii:
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission yesterday approved a power purchase agreement between Kahuku Wind Power and Hawaiian Electric Company for the utility to purchase renewable energy to be produced by the 30 megawatt (MW) wind energy project to be constructed on Oahu’s North Shore.
Located west of Kahuku town in the hills near Charlie Road, the wind energy project will consist of 12 Clipper Liberty wind turbines each having 2.5-MW capacity. Kahuku Wind Power will also include a battery energy storage system to assist in meeting performance standards and smoothing fluctuations in wind energy output. The battery storage system has been developed by Xtreme Power, Inc. and will be the largest of its kind in Hawaii. The project will also include a microwave communication system to connect the wind energy project to the Hawaiian Electric system operations and dispatch center. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year.
When completed, Kahuku Wind Power will be the only wind energy project on Oahu and one of the largest wind energy projects in the state. It will have the capacity to generate an estimated 80,000 megawatt hours each year – enough energy to power the equivalent of 7,700 Oahu homes, reduce oil consumption by about 153,000 barrels a year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 96 million pounds per year, according to statistics from the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy.
Finally, a massive solar energy initiative in NY:
A consortium of organizations in New York State has set out a plan that could see a million solar hot water systems installed over the next decade.
The Solar Thermal Consortium said the roadmap would include incentives for consumers to switch to renewable heat, investment in research and development, training for installers and promotions to attract manufacturers.
Developed over the past six months by more than 130 industry, university and governmental representatives, the plan aims to establish 2,000 megawatts of solar thermal generating capacity in the state by 2020.
The Consortium said its plan would result in $2.6 billion worth of economic activity, supporting 25,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.
The plan could save the state 6 million gallons of oil and 9.5 million cubic feet of natural gas each year, & displace 320 million kilowatt-hours of electrical demand annually by 2020. It would also save consumers more than $175 million per year, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 350,000 tons a year.