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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Comment Period Extended; West Butte Wind Project

News release from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:

Comment Period Extended on Permit Request For West Butte Wind Project

The deadline is being extended for people to comment on a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) of a request from West Butte Wind Power, LLC, for a permit that would allow for the “take” of golden eagles at the company’s proposed wind project in central Oregon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.

Notice of the extension to February 17, 2012, published in today’s Federal Register. The previous deadline was February 2, 2012.

“Take” means to kill, harass or disturb the birds, their nests or their eggs. The Service will consider take permits when commitments are made for conservation measures that benefit eagle populations.

This is the first application the Service has received from a proposed wind project for a take permit under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). Regulations adopted in 2009 enabled the agency to authorize, for the first time, take of eagles for activities that are otherwise lawful but that result in either disturbance or mortality.  Since then, guidelines for issuing the permits to wind projects have been developed.  Permits are only issuable under circumstances that ultimately guarantee the conservation of eagle populations.

“The new deadline will give people additional time to submit comments,” said Chris McKay, Assistant Regional Director for Migratory Birds and State Programs in the Service’s Pacific Region. The agency decided to extend the deadline after receiving several requests to do so.

The West Butte permit, if issued, would allow the take of up to three golden eagles over a period of five years as long as the company fulfills its conservation commitments. In cooperation with the Service, the company developed an avian and bat conservation plan and an eagle conservation plan that describe actions that have been taken to initially avoid and minimize and then mitigate for any remaining adverse effects to eagles. If the permit is granted, there must be no net loss to breeding populations of golden eagles. The proposed wind project, consisting of up to 52 turbines about 30 miles east of Bend, is in an area of low use by golden eagles.

West Butte Wind Power’s eagle conservation plan outlines advanced conservation practices and measures to avoid and minimize impacts, assesses risk, makes commitments for mitigating eagle mortalities, and makes commitments for monitoring bird mortality after the project is built. If the permit is granted, these conservation commitments would become conditions of the permit.

The Service would review the permit every five years to ensure the project was complying with the conditions.

The full text of the draft EA can be downloaded at

Comments can be submitted by:

  • Email: Include “DEA for the West Butte Wind Project” in the subject line of the message.
  • U.S. Mail: Please address written comments to Michael Green, Acting Chief, Division of Migratory Birds and Habitat Programs, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 911 NE 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97232. Attn.: DEA for the West Butte Wind Project.
  • Fax: Michael Green, Acting Chief, Division of Migratory Birds and Habitat Programs, 503-231-2019, Attn.: DEA for the West Butte Wind Project.

Electric Vehicles Come to Hawaii

Blog post from U.S. Dept. of Energy:

Hawaii Energy Program Brings Electric Vehicles to the Big Island

January 31, 2012 

Last July, Governor Neil Abercrombie unveiled the first public charging station installed in the state capitol’s underground parking garage with the "Hawaii EV Ready" program. In 2011, rebates were approved for 237 electric vehicles and 168 chargers. | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor. Last July, Governor Neil Abercrombie unveiled the first public charging station installed in the state capitol’s underground parking garage with the "Hawaii EV Ready" program. In 2011, rebates were approved for 237 electric vehicles and 168 chargers. | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor.
Hawaii is the most oil dependent state in the nation with more than 95 percent of its energy supplied by imported fossil fuels. Gas and electricity prices are also far above the national average. To increase its energy independence, Hawaii is revving up its state electric vehicle program, “EV Ready,” thanks to $4.5 million in funding from the Energy Department’s State Energy Program and the Recovery Act.

As part of the program administered by Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), residents and businesses can apply for rebates and grants to purchase electric vehicles and construct charging stations. In 2011, rebates were approved for 237 electric vehicles and 168 chargers.  
Last July, Governor Neil Abercrombie unveiled the first public charging station installed in the state capitol’s underground parking garage. Since then, five additional charging stations have been installed at state-owned buildings in Honolulu, and another eight chargers at the motor pool for the state's new fleet of electric vehicles.
The state awarded another $2.6 million in Recovery Act funds to six organizations charged with promoting, installing and deploying charging stations and electric vehicles across the state. Those organizations so far have installed 220 charging stations at 120 sites, introduced 18 EVs to public and private fleets, promoted the benefits of EVs to the hospitality industry and developed the "Hawaii EV Ready Guidebook."

Transportation fuel accounts for 30 percent of liquid fuel consumption in the state, or 75 million gallons per year. Measures associated with the EV Ready program aim to reduce Hawaii’s ground transportation fuel use by 70 percent by 2030.

The EV Ready program aligns with the goals of the broader Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), a public-private partnership between Hawaii, the Energy Department and other governmental and private groups. The initiative intends to generate 40 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, and implement energy efficiency measures to cut energy demand by 30 percent.

Energy-efficient Lights on the National Mall

News release from the U.S. Dept. of Energy:

Salazar, Chu Flip Switch on 65% Energy Savings

January 30, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the National Park Service and the Trust for the National Mall today hosted a lighting ceremony to celebrate the installation of energy-efficient LED lights on the Mall.  The LED lights, donated by OSRAM SYLVANIA and installed pro bono by Pepco, the electric utility that serves Washington, D.C., will reduce lighting energy use for the streetlamps by up to 65 percent.

“Achieving an economy built on American energy will require an all-of-the-above approach, one that includes safely and responsibly developing our domestic energy resources – and making the most of what we have available through efficiencies,” said Secretary Salazar. “There is no more fitting place to build a model of energy efficiency than right here in America’s front yard, the National Mall, with the installation of these LED lights.”

"Using energy-efficient LED light bulbs is an important way Americans can save money by saving energy," said Secretary Chu. "Investing in an American economy that is built to last includes taking advantage of all of America's energy resources while working to improve efficiency. Installing these energy efficient bulbs on the National Mall is an important demonstration of our commitment to partnering with the private sector to promote energy saving technologies."

Salazar and Chu were joined by Caroline Cunningham, President of the Trust for the National Mall, Bob Vogel, Superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks and leadership from OSRAM SYLVANIA, Pepco and Siemens Corporations, Sylvania’s parent company.

“The generosity of Sylvania and Pepco has progressed our goal of making the National Mall a role model in sustainable urban park development,” said Caroline Cunningham, President of the Trust for the National Mall.  “Sylvania and Pepco's leadership and commitment show the power of public/private partnerships in advancing the Trust's mission to enhance the beauty, usefulness and sustainability of the National Mall for current and future generations.”

OSRAM SYLVANIA contributed 174 LED bulbs and the retrofit kits needed to install them in the historic bronze streetlamps that line the Mall from 3rd to 15th streets. The kits replaced the Mall’s high intensity discharge (HID) and compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) with advanced solid-state lighting.

“SYLVANIA is honored to light our nation’s favorite national park with innovative and cutting-edge LED technology assembled here on U.S. soil,” said Rick Leaman, President and CEO of OSRAM SYLVANIA. “This energy-efficient lighting transformation of our country’s National Mall will create a brilliant display of light while also providing a welcoming environment to visitors in the years to come.”

Pepco overhead line crews installed the LED bulbs pro bono.

“Pepco is proud to have been part of the federal reconstruction of the National Mall in the 1930’s when Pepco overhead crews first installed the streetlights that line the Mall,” said Joseph M. Rigby, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pepco Holdings, Inc. “Today we are proud to be part of another illumination of the Mall by installing attractive, energy-efficient lights in the original historic lamp posts.”  Rigby is Chairman Emeritus of the National Trust’s Corporate Committee.

The new LED technology provides a better-lit and more secure atmosphere for visitors after dark, while preserving the architectural integrity of the original fittings.  The technology is not only brighter, but it lasts longer than most conventional light sources.  In fact, the Park Service will not have to replace these lamps for an estimated 25 years.  LEDs also provide significant maintenance cost savings by lasting 2-6 times longer than HID lamps. The directional light distribution of high power LEDs allows the delivery of light only where needed, reducing wasted light and minimizing light trespass and upward emissions. LEDs are an environmentally preferable lighting solution, containing no mercury or lead.

“The National Park Service is grateful for the generosity of Sylvania and Pepco, and for the support of the Trust for the National Mall. We are committed to promoting sustainability on the Mall and this project is helping us do that,” said Superintendent Vogel.

JPMorgan Chase Achieves LEED Platinum Certification

New release from JPMorgan Chase:

January 18, 2012

JPMorgan Chase Achieves LEED® Platinum Green Building Certification for Newly Renovated Global Headquarters in New York City

World's largest LEED Platinum renovation to date Will cut electric consumption by 50% and save more than 1 million gallons of water a year

NEW YORK – Jan. 18, 2012 – JPMorgan Chase announced today that it has achieved the highest possible rating, LEED® Platinum, from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for the renovation of its global headquarters at 270 Park Avenue in Manhattan, making it the world's largest renovation project to achieve Platinum status.

In the United States, existing buildings contribute 50 to 80 percent of urban greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Building Owners and Managers Association. The renovation will allow the 50-story building to cut its electricity consumption in half compared to pre-renovation levels. In addition, the building will save more than 1 million gallons of water a year by installing new, highly efficient systems and an innovative draining and filtering system.

"This was the largest 'green' renovation of a headquarters building in the world, and we completed it while operating in the building," said Frank Bisignano, JPMorgan Chase's Chief Administrative Officer and CEO of Mortgage Banking. "We are extremely proud of the improvements made at 270 Park, which will substantially cut consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Achieving LEED Platinum status is not just a source of pride, it is very sound business."

Earning the Platinum rating meant upgrading and modernizing every system and feature in the 50-year-old building – from heating, air conditioning and lighting, to insulation, plumbing fixtures, flooring and outside views – all while the building remained occupied. To minimize disruptions, an average of 400 construction workers a day completed the renovation in phases, working on up to 10 floors at a time. "With each new LEED-certified building, we get one step closer to USGBC's vision of a sustainable built environment for everyone within a generation," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. "The work of innovative, forward-thinking building projects such the Park Avenue headquarters of JPMorgan Chase is a fundamental driving force in the green building movement." LEED Platinum certification of JPMorgan Chase's global headquarters was based on a number of green design and construction features, including:

  • New systems to improve energy efficiency, including: heating and air conditioning equipment; lighting with occupancy sensors and daylight dimming controls; Energy Star kitchen appliances, computers and monitors; new building insulation and window tint to reduce glare, heat gain and air conditioning load.
  • A 54,000 gallon tank in the cellar that collects rain water from drains on the roof and plaza, which is stored and filtered, and then used in landscaping and to flush toilets in the lower part of the building – saving more than 1 million gallons of water a year. Combined with other plumbing upgrades the building will use half as much water as pre-renovation.

  • Nearly 16,500 square feet of new landscaping, including green roofs, that feature low-maintenance plants to help lower building temperatures in the summer while reducing stress on the city's sewer system on rainy days. Soil in the planters acts as a filter to remove pollutants from rainwater. In addition, an herb garden was planted on the 11th floor roof to provide fresh herbs and vegetables for client dining.

  • Reusing over 99 percent of the original building and recycling more than 85 percent of construction waste including 990,000 square feet of carpeting. Over 12,000 tons of construction waste was diverted from landfills.

  • New floor designs and layout to give 85 percent of employees natural daylight at their desks, with more than 92 percent having exterior views.

  • 266 bicycle racks to encourage employee well being and greener commutes.

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.2 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers, small business and commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management and private equity. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at

U.S. Green Building Council

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. With a community comprising 79 local affiliates, nearly 16,000 member organizations, and more than 174,000 LEED Professional Credential holders, USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to contribute $554 billion to the U.S. GDP from 2009-2013. USGBC leads an unlikely diverse constituency of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students. Visit to learn more.


The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Over 44,000 projects are currently participating in the LEED rating systems, comprising over 8 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 120 countries.In addition, nearly 15,000 homes have been certified under the LEED for Homes rating system, with more than 65,000 more homes registered. By using less energy, LEED-certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.
For more information, visit

Monday, January 30, 2012

Good Idea

I received this as a forwarded e-mail message.  I have no idea how many people saw it before I did or who the original author was.  But it seems like a good idea.

 I have a friend who used her solar lights inside at night when her current was off during the hurricane. She stuck them in a jar or
bottle and said they gave off plenty of 'free light'. She put one in
each room and would put them back outside in the daytime and
bring them in at night as long as the current was off. They are
safe to use and cheaper than batteries. Bring in a solar light
one night and test it.

Due to a thunderstorm, we lost power for about 5 hours. We were scrambling around in the darkness, looking for matches, candles, flashlights, etc. We looked outside, and noticed our solar lights
shining brightly all around our patio, stairs, dock, etc. They were beautiful. My wife walked outside, and brought several of the solar lights inside.

We stuck the solar light pipes into plastic drink bottles containers
and they made the nicest, brightest, safest, lighting you could ever imagine.

We put one in the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, etc. There was plenty of light. There are all types of solar lights available. We bought ours at Harbor Freight. We put them all around our yard. They look nice and they do not attract flying bugs like the outdoor lights around our doorway.

The lights we have fit into the small (20 oz) water bottles and they
also fit into most of the larger liter bottles. If you need a weight in
the plastic bottle to keep them from tipping over, you can put a few
of the pretty colorful "flat marbles" that they put in aquariums, and vases. (you can also use sand, aquarium gravel, etc., whatever you have available).

The lights we have were perfect inside our home. They burn all night long if you need them.

The next day, you just take your solar lights back outside and they
will instantly recharge and be ready for you to use again any time
you need them.

Perfect for power outages, hurricanes, etc.

I never thought of it and now you don't have to. -----

NREL's REDB Connects Smart Grid Research

NREL's REDB Connects Smart Grid Research

January 27, 2012

Photo of a man walking past a rack of electricity switchers. Enlarge image
An electrical contractor walks between two racetrack switchboards, which are being installed in the REDB room of the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) at NREL. These switchboards are capable of 1,600 amps and are part of the 1 megawatt testing capabilities at ESIF.
Credit: Dennis Schroeder

Plug-n-play has become so integrated into daily life that most computer users don't give a second thought to hooking up a camera or smart phone to a laptop or tablet. Now, take the same concept and apply it to the nation's complex electrical systems when it comes to "plugging in" renewables or smart grid technologies.
To make that a reality, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is building electrically interconnected laboratories as part of its Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) where research partners can literally plug in and test new energy technologies on real and simulated power systems before hooking them up to the grid.

This plug-n-play adaptability is possible because of the Research Electrical Distri­bution Bus (REDB) at ESIF, which will function as a power integra­tion circuit capable of connecting multiple sources of energy, interconnecting laboratories and experiments. All of this will allow NREL and its partners to test and simulate what happens when components, such as solar inverters, are connected to the grid.

"Each lab in ESIF has its own niche with different kinds of equipment and functionality fostering research on all aspects of energy integration," NREL Electrical Engineer Greg Martin said. "There is nowhere else where you can bring in a piece of equipment, connect it up, and be testing in a matter of days — along with the type of data acquisition we can provide."

Think Big

 Illustration showing the location and layout of REDB. Enlarge image
The Research Electrical Distri¬bution Bus (REDB) is the electrical back bone interconnecting many of the laboratories at ESIF. This state-of-the-art facility will enable NREL and industry to work together to develop and evaluate their individual technologies on a controlled integrated energy system platform.
Credit: Rendering courtesy of SmithGroupJJR

Made up of four ring buses — two for AC current and two for DC current — the REDB will be the backbone for all of NREL's energy systems integration testing.

"You can think of the ESIF equipped with the REDB as a place where you can bring your equipment and with our real time simulation tools, we can make your equipment think that is connected electrically to another piece of equipment, a utility distribution feeder, or even the grid," Acting Group Manager for Distributed Energy Systems Integration Bill Kramer said.

The scale of the laboratories in the ESIF and the size of the equipment to be tested are hard to visualize, but according to Kramer, a real test scenario for the REDB could include the following.

A research partner delivers an experimental device to ESIF on a flatbed truck. The truck enters the ESIF through large overhead doors that lead into the high bay area of the Power Systems Integration Laboratory where a bridge crane lifts the experiment, which contains a battery in a 40 foot container, off the truck and places it in the lab. The battery is connected to DC power with a programmable switch that is connected to the REDB. Running parallel with the REDB is a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. SCADA enables the researchers safely to turn power on and off, and track the data flowing during the experiment. At this point, using the SCADA and REBD systems, researchers can interconnect that large battery with another laboratory, or to a transformer connected to a solar array in the Outdoor Testing Facility. The battery can be charged and discharged thanks to the ESIF's power hardware in the loop.

SCADA Brings Testing into View

A key element to the testing power systems and components at ESIF is the SCADA, which will serve as the computer control system for the REDB. In addition to controlling the REDB safely, the SCADA also provides high resolution data output. The SCADA will support a large visualization screen in the control room allowing researchers and partners to watch the experiment in real-time.

In a control room, researchers can see the electrical bus, close switches, and checkout grid simulators. Research partners will be able to control the systems on portions of the REBD checked out specifically to them. The data from the experiment is streamed to secure servers, so if a utility is working with the lab that information can remain with the researcher and their partner. It's easily compartmentalized so that an experiment has its own power system and data.

Safety is key at NREL and the SCADA will constantly run safety checks to make sure that no equipment is damaged or pushed beyond its safety limits.

ESIF is Not Just for Renewables, or NREL

Photo of a large laboratory under construction. Enlarge image
The 5,300 square foot Smart Power Laboratory in ESIF is connected to the REDB. Like most labs in ESIF, the Smart Power Laboratory will be highly configurable and can test anything from home automation technology to advanced inverters.
Credit: Dennis Schroeder

"The ESIF labs are reconfigurable so that as technologies advance, we can change with them," Kramer said.
"The design of ESIF in and of itself is an integrated system. ESIF bridges the gap between electrical, thermal, and fuels disciplines."

The nation's utility infrastructure currently is driven by fossil fuels. An objective for ESIF is to make it so industry can use and modify existing pieces of equipment to work with new technologies such as solar and wind.

"We are here to help utilities and companies that want to design new equipment that will increase the penetration of renewables into the energy grid," Kramer said. "However, we won't work just with renewables at the ESIF. We could also test natural gas field generators. This type of testing will also help us move forward because if you don't take into consideration the overall system and only work on a component at a time, you will never come up with the optimal solution."

"At the end of the day, we want to provide a platform to allow other laboratories, government, industry, utilities, to all develop technologies for the future energy marketplace," Martin added. "It is important for everyone to be able to do testing before putting something out in the field and discovering that it didn't work they way they thought. Instead they can bring their equipment to the ESIF, hook it up and it is going to think it is part of the power system."

ESIF also is working to make virtual connections to other laboratories across the country in an effort to share expertise. "If you have a lab, and want to have a virtual connection into the ESIF with your equipment being tested in your lab, you will still be able to make use of ESIF and all of the equipment that is in it," Kramer said.

"We have this amazing capability that no one has ever had before," Martin said. "If you have an idea for novel system, bring it in and we'll test it, or we'll partner with you on some other types of research."
This state-of-the-art facility is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. It will enable NREL and industry to work together to develop and evaluate their individual technolo­gies on a controlled integrated energy system platform. Test­ing at the ESIF is intended to facilitate widespread adoption of renewable energy and smart grid technologies and help reduce risks associated with early market penetration.

NREL & Gamesa to Collaborate on R&D Project

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) - Innovation for Our Energy Future
News Release

NREL, Gamesa to Collaborate on R&D Project

Venture serves to help develop next generation of wind turbines

Friday, January 27, 2012

Golden, Colo., Jan. 27, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Gamesa Technology Corp., Inc. will study and test a variety of components and systems that will guide development of the next generation of wind turbines designed specifically for the U.S. marketplace.
The public-private partnership expects to focus on innovations that will enhance the capabilities and performance of advanced wind systems in tapping the vast potential of this renewable energy resource and ultimately bring the nation closer to 20 percent wind energy by 2030.
NREL and Gamesa will collaborate on work in three key areas: developing new wind turbine components and rotors for the U.S. market; researching and testing the performance of new control strategies; and devising models that will help advance the development of offshore wind in U.S. coastal waters.
"We are pleased to have Gamesa working with NREL as an R&D partner," Dana Christensen, NREL's Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Technology, said. "These types of collaborations demonstrate a commitment to crucial technology development and the public-private partnerships necessary to ensure the continued momentum of the wind power industry. Our role with the Department of Energy is to help reduce technical risks and thereby help accelerate next generation technology into the marketplace. NREL is proud to be at the forefront of this important work."
Gamesa, already has installed and commissioned a G97 Class IIIA 2.0 MW test wind turbine at NREL's National Wind Technology Center near Boulder, Colo. NREL's wind technology center is the most extensive wind-turbine testing facility in the nation. 
"Wind energy is going to continue to play a key role in creating a stronger and more sustainable American economy," said Dr. Miguel Angel Gonzalez-Posada, Vice President of Technology for Gamesa North America. "This partnership is an exciting venture that showcases Gamesa's commitment to enhanced clean energy development, as well as our drive to deliver reliable, efficient and cost-effective wind turbine technologies to the U.S. marketplace."
Since being introduced last year, Gamesa's G9X-2.0 MW turbine platform has gained recognition for its advanced blade design, updated nacelle, enhanced control systems and other features that increase energy output substantially. The G97 Class IIIA 2.0 MW model, which will serve as the test platform with NREL, is designed specifically for low-wind sites, a segment from which Gamesa expects more than half of all future on-shore demand.
Using Gamesa's turbine platform as a laboratory, researchers will study the behavior of systems and how new designs, products or equipment can affect performance.
Full project testing on the entire slate of programs is set to begin this month. The core provisions of the public-private partnership run through 2013, with options for two additional years of collaboration.
NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.
Visit NREL online at

NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC. NRELU.S. Department of EnergyOffice of Energy Efficiency and Renewable EnergyOffice of Energy Efficiency and Renewable EnergyAlliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tapping into Wave and Tidal Ocean Power

U.S. Dept. of Energy blog post:

Tapping into Wave and Tidal Ocean Power: 15% Water Power by 2030

January 27, 2012

A map generated by Georgia Tech's tidal energy resource database shows mean current speed of tidal streams. The East Coast, as shown above, has strong tides that could be tapped to produce energy.  | Photo courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology A map generated by Georgia Tech's tidal energy resource database shows mean current speed of tidal streams. The East Coast, as shown above, has strong tides that could be tapped to produce energy. | Photo courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology
In the most rigorous analyses undertaken to date, two recently released resource assessments show that waves and tidal currents off the nation's coasts contain enough energy to provide a significant portion our nation’s total annual electricity usage.

The United States uses about 4,000 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year. The reports find that the nation’s waves and tides could potentially produce up to 1,420 TWh annually, or 15 percent of America’s electricity. Although these resources won’t be used in their entirety, they represent a major opportunity for America to harness homegrown, clean power and create jobs.

The West Coast, including Alaska and Hawaii, has especially high potential for wave energy development while significant opportunities also exist along the East Coast, which have strong tides that could be tapped to produce energy.  

The assessments—Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy Resource and Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United States—reflect the size and magnitude of waves and tides in the ocean and serve as a foundation for an ongoing effort to map out the best locations for extraction of ocean energy.  

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory incorporated the data from the wave resource assessment into its U.S. Renewable Resource atlas, where viewers can pan, zoom, and filter through graphically displayed data layers.  In the future, 30 years of wave and weather data will be incorporated into the database to inform technological requirements and risks associated with wave energy development projects.

Georgia Tech‘s previously announced tidal streams database displays online maps that allow the public, policy makers, and water power developers to easily explore potential marine and hydrokinetic power-producing regions in the United States. 

For more information about other water power resource assessments,  visit the Energy Department’s Water Power Program website.

Energy Dept. & Volvo Build More Efficient Trucks & Mfg. Plants

News release from the U.S. Department of Energy:

Energy Department, Volvo Partnership Builds More Efficient Trucks and Manufacturing Plants

January 27, 2012 

Washington, D.C. –Today, Acting Under Secretary of Energy Arun Majumdar joined with North Carolina Congressman Howard Coble (NC-6) to tour the Volvo Group’s truck headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina, and highlight the blueprint for an America built to last laid out by President Obama in his State of the Union address earlier this week. The Department of Energy is partnering with companies like the Volvo Group to help harness American ingenuity to commercialize and deploy cutting-edge trucking technologies that will help boost the competitiveness of the U.S. auto and manufacturing industry, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create jobs for American workers.

“Earlier this week in his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined a blueprint for a stronger American economy based on a resurgence in American manufacturing and innovations in the way we use energy,” said Dr. Majumdar. “Companies like the Volvo Group that are pursuing energy efficiency in their operations, putting Americans to work, and building more fuel-efficient vehicles underscore how investments in clean energy technology are helping to secure America’s future economic prosperity.”

In partnership with the Energy Department, the Volvo Group is helping to lead the industry to advance innovative clean energy vehicle technologies and energy-efficient manufacturing. Through the Department’s SuperTruck program, the Volvo Group was awarded $19 million – which the company is matching dollar for dollar – to improve the efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles like the Mack and Volvo Trucks. Volvo Group has also embraced manufacturing efficiency as part of the DOE’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Program, pledging to reduce the energy intensity of its manufacturing plants with assistance and guidance from the Energy Department. These steps to become more energy-efficient will reduce operating costs at the facility, improving the competitiveness of the company’s products and manufacturing plants.

Dr. Majumdar and Congressman Coble were hosted by Dennis Slagle, Executive Vice President of Volvo Group Trucks Sales & Marketing - Americas, on the tour of the Volvo Group’s Technical Center, which is in the midst of an $8 million expansion.

The Volvo Group’s award was one of four Energy Department-sponsored SuperTruck development projects, which focus on increasing the fuel efficiency of Class 8 trucks – better known as 18-wheelers – by 50 percent.  To achieve this goal, companies like the Volvo Group are developing and improving vehicle technologies in engine efficiency, aerodynamics, waste heat recovery,  and hybridization, among other approaches.  Through the SuperTruck program, the Energy Department expects fuel economy increases from 6.5 miles per gallon to 9.75 miles per gallon – saving long-haul truckers more than $15,000 per truck per year in fuel costs.

Class 8 trucks represent only 4 percent of the on-road vehicles in America, but are responsible for almost 20 percent of the country’s on-road fuel consumption.  Implementation of SuperTruck technologies will not only lessen the nation’s dependence on petroleum, but also improve the global competitiveness of U.S. truck manufacturers.

While Volvo is building more efficient vehicles, the company is also improving the energy efficiency of the manufacturing plants that make them. In December 2009, the company joined the Department of Energy’s Save Energy Now LEADER initiative, now known as the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program, to begin an ambitious effort to significantly reduce the energy intensity of its operations as a way to increase competitiveness. Since then, Volvo’s New River Valley plant, located in Dublin, Virginia, has implemented a range of measures with guidance from the Department’s technical experts that reduced its energy intensity by almost 30 percent in just one year. Embracing energy efficiency measures helped Volvo cut costs and keep operations—and jobs—for its truck manufacturing business here in the United States.

Volvo Truck Corporation is one of the leading heavy truck and engine manufacturers in the world. Volvo Trucks manufactures a line of Class 8 trucks, and is known as a major innovator in the heavy-vehicle industry, selling products in more than 180 markets worldwide.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Houston Joins Better Buildings Challenge

U.S. Dept. of Energy News Release:

City of Houston Joins Better Buildings Challenge, Partners with Energy Department to Reduce Energy Waste and Boost Efficiency

January 26, 2012 

Washington, D.C. — Building on President Obama’s call in the State of the Union address earlier this week for a new era for American energy, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu joined with Houston Mayor Annise Parker today to announce that Houston, Texas is joining the Better Buildings Challenge.  Houston is the latest community to join the Challenge, a public-private partnership that seeks to improve energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020 in commercial, government, and school buildings across the country. As the newest Challenge community partner, the City of Houston is committing to improve energy efficiency across 30 million square feet of public and private buildings throughout the city.

“As President Obama made clear in this week’s State of the Union address, one of the easiest ways for businesses to save money and improve their competitiveness is to reduce energy waste in their buildings and factories,” said Secretary Chu.  “Through the Better Buildings Challenge, the city of Houston is helping to boost manufacturing, create U.S. jobs, reduce pollution, and build an American economy that lasts.”

“I am committed to sustainability,” said Mayor Parker.  “It’s not only helps our environment, it also saves taxpayer dollars.  The city and its local corporate partners in the BBC have already taken numerous steps to make buildings and other facilities more energy efficient and more efficiencies will follow.  We are leading by example.”

Through its participation in the Better Buildings Challenge, the City of Houston works with local partners to implement initiatives that reduce emissions, protect air quality and save taxpayers money. The city becomes the most recent community partner to join the Challenge since President Obama announced last month nearly $4 billion in combined federal and private sector funding for building energy upgrades over the next two years. To date, more than 60 companies, cities, universities, hospitals, and other partners throughout the U.S. have committed to upgrading more than 1.6 billion square feet of building space nationwide.

About the Better Buildings Challenge

The Better Buildings Challenge is a national leadership initiative that calls on corporate chief executive officers, university presidents and state and local leaders to make a significant commitment to energy efficiency. These leaders are recognized for the innovative work they are doing, the results they are achieving and the leadership role they provide for other organizations to follow. The goal of the Better Buildings Challenge is to create jobs, eliminate waste, and save money by making the nation’s commercial and industrial buildings 20 percent more efficient by 2020. The Challenge is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

News release from the Congressional Budget Office:


January 25, 2012

Geothermal Production Expansion Act of 2011 

As ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on December 15, 2011
S. 1149 would authorize the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to award leases for  certain federal lands on a noncompetitive basis for the development of geothermal resources. Based on information provided by BLM, the Department of Energy (DOE), and individuals working in the geothermal industry, CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would have no significant impact on the federal budget over the 2012-2022
period. Enacting S. 1149 could affect direct spending; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. However, CBO estimates that the net effect on direct spending would not be significant in any year. Enacting the legislation would not affect revenues.

S. 1149 would authorize BLM to offer noncompetitive leases of up to 640 acres for lands adjacent to known geothermal discoveries. Under the bill, a company that identified a geothermal resource that extended onto federal land adjacent to company-controlled lands could acquire the lease for a specified amount (bonus bid) determined by BLM to be equivalent to the fair market value rather than an amount determined through a competitive auction. In addition to paying fair market value for the parcel, the bill would require any company awarded such a noncompetitive lease to make annual rental payments equal to those required for lands that are leased competitively. Finally, a company could receive only one noncompetitive lease for each known geothermal discovery.  

Under current law, 75 percent of all receipts from bonus bids, rents, and royalties related to the development of geothermal resources on federal lands is paid to the states and counties in which those lands are located. The remaining 25 percent is deposited in the U.S. Treasury. CBO estimates that awarding noncompetitive leases for lands adjacent to known geothermal discoveries could reduce bonus bids on those parcels; however, because the legislation would require the companies that are awarded those leases to pay fair market value for them, we estimate that implementing the bill would not reduce the amount of receipts deposited in the U.S. Treasury by more than $500,000 in any year. 2

In addition, based on information provided by DOE and individuals working in the geothermal industry, CBO expects that implementing S. 1149 could increase receipts from royalties paid on geothermal energy production by reducing the amount of time it takes to develop a known geothermal resource and by reducing the likelihood that lands containing geothermal resources would be acquired for speculative purposes. CBO estimates that any increase in the amount of royalty receipts that would be deposited in the U.S. Treasury
would not exceed $500,000 in any year. Those amounts would offset any reduction in receipts from issuing noncompetitive leases under the bill. Thus, CBO estimates that implementing S. 1149 would have no significant net impact on direct spending over the 2012-2022 period.

The bill contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.

The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. This estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

Smart Grid Implementation Rises 25% in Past Year

News release from Microsoft:

News Press Release

Smart Grid Implementation Rises 25 Percent in the Past Year, According to Utilities Industry Survey
Third annual survey uncovers critical need for business intelligence solutions that manage massive amounts of data for business insight.

SAN ANTONIO — Jan. 24, 2012 — The Microsoft/OSIsoft Worldwide Utility Industry Survey 2012, released today at the DistribuTECH Conference & Exhibition, shows a 25 percent increase over last year in the number of utilities companies that have implemented smart-grid technology. The survey also shows that 28 percent of companies surveyed are in the planning phase, but 24 percent still have not started adopting any smart-grid technology. However, 63 percent of participants expect their budgets for these technologies to increase over the next two or three years.

The survey, which was a collaboration between Microsoft Corp. and OSIsoft LLC, polled 216 professionals within electric, gas and water utility industries around the world and highlights the challenges utilities face as they move from planning to actual smart-grid implementation. Nearly 20 percent of those surveyed said technical issues kept them from moving forward, which was a larger group than in last year’s survey.

“This year’s survey shows that more and more utilities companies are adding new devices to the grid and incorporating new data sets into their operational capabilities,” said Jon C. Arnold, managing director for the Worldwide Power and Utilities Industry at Microsoft and a member of the Smart Grid Advisory Committee to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “However, many of these same organizations are encountering significant interoperability and integration challenges. Leveraging technology and architectures that are adaptable removes many of the technology risks. Fortunately, the Microsoft Smart Energy Reference Architecture (SERA) provides an infrastructure that protects current technology investments while enabling the implementation of forward-thinking smart-grid solutions.”

The survey indicated that 72 percent of respondents do not have an enterprisewide scalable architecture in place to support current and future smart-grid deployments. SERA provides a detailed framework for existing technologies that will enable bidirectional power and information flows around the grid, with particular attention to standards, interoperability and reduced costs. SERA also provides the first conceptual framework for adding cloud services to the development of the smart-energy ecosystem.

Business Intelligence Helps Realize Vision of Smart Grid

Smart-grid technologies provide access to large amounts of smart data, which can inundate organizational systems. When asked how they are addressing the big data challenge to the smart grid, nearly one quarter of surveyed companies referenced the importance of business intelligence solutions. Business intelligence tools and systems are critical to managing and analyzing large amounts of data, which in turn enables companies to make smarter and more proactive business decisions based on actionable information.

OSIsoft’s PI System, an enterprise infrastructure designed for Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Microsoft SQL Server, Power View, PowerPivot, Microsoft Lync and Microsoft Office 2010, offers a familiar and easy-to-use interface that allows users to access and manipulate real-time data and events for enhanced business insight. The PI System can absorb massive amounts of streaming data and events, analyze it, and help the end user put it into context and use it.

“The PI System supports utilities organizations in efficient, reliable and safe smart-grid implementation,” said Jon Peterson, vice president of Marketing at OSIsoft. “Our products and services help utilities transform their transmission networks into robust, two-way communications grids that provide real-time visibility into electricity and water usage from their customers to the control center. Utilities can make informed decisions that increase efficiencies and lower costs.”

More information about Microsoft Power and Utilities is available at, as well as on the Microsoft Power and Utilities blog at More information about OSIsoft and Microsoft strategic collaboration can be found at

About OSIsoft

OSIsoft ( delivers the PI System, the industry standard in enterprise infrastructure, for management of real-time data and events. With installations in 110 countries spanning the globe, the OSIsoft PI System is used in manufacturing, energy, utilities, life sciences, datacenters, facilities, and the process industries. This global installed base relies upon the OSIsoft PI System to safeguard data and deliver enterprise-wide visibility into operational, manufacturing and business data. The PI System enables users to manage assets, mitigate risks, comply with regulations, improve processes, drive innovation, make business decisions in real time, and to identify competitive business and market opportunities.
Founded in 1980, OSIsoft, LLC is headquartered in San Leandro, CA, with operations worldwide and is privately held. Learn more about OSIsoft and the PI System at

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Lighting Facts Label

From the Energy Savers blog of the U.S. Department of Energy:

New Lighting Facts Label: Takes the Guess Work Out of Shopping for Light Bulbs

clock January 25, 2012

If you're like me, it sometimes feels overwhelming standing at the store and staring at a big wall of light bulbs, trying to understand all the lighting choices. With new lighting standards taking effect this year, now's a great time switch to energy-saving incandescent, CFL, and LED light bulbs, which are available in most hardware and home improvement retailers. They all are more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, and upgrading 15 of the inefficient incandescent light bulbs in your home could save you about $50 per year.
I've learned that when I'm shopping for light bulbs, it's most important to compare lumens to be sure I'm getting the amount of light, or level of brightness, I want. More lumens means it's a brighter light; fewer lumens means it's a dimmer light.

The brightness, or lumen levels, of the lights in your home may vary widely, so here's a rule of thumb:
  • To replace a 100-watt (W) incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Replace a 75 W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens.
  • Replace a 60 W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens.
  • Replace a 40 W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.
To help people like you and me better understand the switch from watts to lumens, the Federal Trade Commission will require a new product label for light bulbs in the coming months. It will help people buy the light bulbs that are right for them.

example of a Lighting Facts label
Example of a Lighting Facts label.
The Lighting Facts label will help consumers understand what they are really purchasing. The label clearly provides the lumens—or brightness—of the bulb, the estimated operating cost for the year, and the color of the light (from warm/yellowish, to white to cool/blue).

Download our placard Lumens: the new way to shop for light to see how to use the Lighting Facts label to buy the right light bulb for your needs.
For more information:
Chris Stewart is a senior communicator at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which assists EERE in providing technical content for many of its websites.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

POET & DSM to Make Advanced Biofuels a Reality by 2013

News release from POET, major ethanol producer:

POET and DSM to make advanced biofuels a reality by 2013

Joint venture to commercialize and license cellulosic bio-ethanol


POET, LLC, one of the world's largest ethanol producers, and Royal DSM, the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, today announce a joint venture to commercially demonstrate and license cellulosic bio-ethanol, the next step in the development of biofuels, based on their proprietary and complementary technologies. POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, is scheduled to start production in the second half of 2013 at one of the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants in the United States.

The two partners will produce cellulosic ethanol from corn crop residue through a biological process using enzymatic hydrolysis followed by fermentation. The first commercial demonstration of the technology will be at Project Liberty, which is currently being constructed adjacent to POET's existing corn ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The initial capacity is expected to be 20 million gallons in the first year, growing to approximately 25 million gallons per year.

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, intends to replicate and license the technology to additional plants to be built at the other 26 corn ethanol facilities in POET's network and license it to other producers in the United States and the rest of the world. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that in the United States as many as 350-400 new bio-refineries will have to be constructed by 2022 to meet the volume requirement of 16 billion gallons/year of cellulosic bio-ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

DSM and POET will each hold a 50% share in the joint venture, which will be headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The initial capital expenditure by the joint venture in project Liberty will amount to about $250 million. The closing of the joint venture is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Both partners in the joint venture bring deep expertise and experience in different areas of cellulosic bio-ethanol. They also share the same vision for a bio-based economy.

Jeff Broin, POET founder and CEO, said: "This joint venture brings together two companies leading the transition from a fossil-based economy to a bio-based economy. The partnership has set an ambitious goal: to make cellulosic bio-ethanol competitive with corn ethanol, which is the most competitive liquid transportation fuel on the market today. We believe that the joint venture positions us well to meet our ambitious cellulosic ethanol production goals."

Feike Sijbesma, CEO/Chairman of the DSM Managing Board, commented: "This cooperation is a milestone in realizing DSM's strategy. By leveraging the unique opportunities in Life Sciences and Materials Sciences we can contribute our heritage of over a century in both biotechnology and chemistry to this joint venture with a biofuels leader. Together we shall deliver the key to unlock the cellulosic bio-ethanol opportunity. As the world is facing unprecedented challenges with a growing population making an ever bigger claim on the planet's resources, we need to accelerate the transition to a bio-based economy and this joint venture is a significant step in that direction."

As one of the world's largest producers of corn ethanol, POET has been actively developing cellulosic bio-ethanol for more than a decade. In November, 2008, the company started operating a cellulosic bio-ethanol pilot plant at its research center in Scotland, South Dakota. For the past five years, POET has been working with farmers to bale, transport and store corn crop residue—the cobs, leaves, husks and some stalk left in the field after the grain harvest.

DSM already has a unique position in the development of cellulosic ethanol as the only company offering both yeast and enzyme solutions to increase conversion rates to make the technology commercially viable. DSM has vast experience in scaling up biotechnological processes and an extensive global footprint and relationships to help accelerate technology adoption in key markets.

Cellulosic bio-ethanol from corn crop residue represents a large opportunity. If the technology is replicated at POET's network of 27 existing corn ethanol plants, it could produce up to one billion gallons of cellulosic bio-ethanol per year.

In an analysis of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the U.S. EPA projected 7.8 billion gallons of cellulosic bio-ethanol coming from corn crop residue by 2022. Beyond that, the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture have estimated that more than one billion tons of biomass is available in America that could produce enough cellulosic bio-ethanol to replace a third of the country's gasoline use.

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, is a 50/50 joint venture between Royal DSM and POET, LLC. Based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the company is a cooperative effort of two innovators that provides the key to unlocking the opportunity of converting corn crop residue into cellulosic bio-ethanol. Built on the strengths of both companies the joint venture has a critical mission: to make cellulosic bio-ethanol competitive with corn ethanol, the most competitive renewable liquid transportation fuel on the market today. Drawing on the deep expertise and experience of POET and DSM in different areas of converting cellulosic biomass into ethanol, POET - DSM Advanced Biofuels will have its first commercial-scale plant co-located with POET's biorefinery in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Based on this plant the JV will globally license an integrated technology package for the conversion of corn crop residue to cellulosic bio-ethanol. More information:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

POET Declines DOE Loan Guarantee

News release from POET, major ethanol producer:

With new cellulosic ethanol joint venture, POET to decline DOE loan guarantee before drawing funds

POET -- DSM Cellulosic Ethanol, LLC makes loan guarantee unnecessary


WASHINGTON, DC (January 23, 2012) -- In light of its joint venture with DSM, POET does not plan to utilize the loan guarantee it was awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). POET received a commitment for a $105 million loan guarantee to finance Project LIBERTY on September 23, 2011. Upon the closing of the joint venture, POET will officially decline the guarantee prior to drawing any funds.

"The loan guarantee commitment from the DOE was an important milestone in our quest to commercialize cellulosic ethanol, and we are appreciative of the work they put into the due diligence process," POET founder and CEO Jeff Broin said. "We believe that the joint venture with DSM positions us well to meet our ambitious cellulosic ethanol production goals, and thus the loan guarantee has become unnecessary."

Earlier today, POET announced a joint venture with DSM, the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, to commercially demonstrate and license cellulosic ethanol. For more information on Project LIBERTY and the POET -- DSM Cellulosic Ethanol joint venture, please visit

Monday, January 23, 2012

DOE Reports Show Potential for Wave & Tidal Energy Production

Progress Alert from the U.S. Department of Energy:

DOE Reports Show Major Potential for Wave and Tidal Energy Production Near U.S. Coasts

January 18, 2012

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released two nationwide resource assessments showing that waves and tidal currents off the nation's coasts could contribute significantly to the United States' total annual electricity production, further diversify the nation's energy portfolio, and provide clean, renewable energy to coastal cities and communities. These new wave and tidal resource assessments, combined with ongoing analyses of the technologies and other resource assessments, show that water power, including conventional hydropower and wave, tidal, and other water power resources, can potentially provide 15% of our nation's electricity by 2030. Today's reports represent the most rigorous analysis undertaken to date to accurately define the magnitude and location of America's ocean energy resources. The information in these resource assessments can help to further develop the country's significant ocean energy resources, create new industries and new jobs in America, and secure U.S. leadership in an emerging global market.

The United States uses about 4,000 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year. DOE estimates that the maximum theoretical electric generation that could be produced from waves and tidal currents is approximately 1,420 TWh per year, approximately one-third of the nation's total annual electricity usage. Although not all of the resource potential identified in these assessments can realistically be developed, the results still represent major opportunities for new water power development in the United States, highlighting specific opportunities to expand on the 6% of the nation's electricity already generated from renewable hydropower resources.

The two reports—"Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy ResourcePDF" and "Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United StatesPDF"—calculate the maximum kinetic energy available from waves and tides off U.S. coasts that could be used for future energy production, and which represent largely untapped opportunities for renewable energy development in the United States.

The West Coast, including Alaska and Hawaii, has especially high potential for wave energy development, while significant opportunities for wave energy also exist along the East Coast. Additionally, parts of both the West and East Coasts have strong tides that could be tapped to produce energy.

Earlier this year, DOE announced the availability of its national tidal resource database, which maps the maximum theoretically available energy in the nation's tidal streams. This database contributed to the "Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United StatesPDF" report, prepared by Georgia Tech.

The wave energy assessment report, titled "Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy ResourcePDF," was prepared by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), with support and data validation from researchers at Virginia Tech and DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The report describes the methods used to produce geospatial data and to map the average annual and monthly significant wave height, wave energy period, mean direction, and wave power density in the coastal United States. NREL incorporated the data into a new marine and hydrokinetic energy section in their U.S. Renewable Resource atlas.

In addition to the wave and tidal resource assessments released today, DOE plans to release additional resource assessments for ocean current, ocean thermal gradients, and new hydropower resources in 2012. To support the development of technologies that can tap into these vast water power resources, DOE's Water Power Program is undertaking a detailed technical and economic assessment of a wide range of water power technologies in order to more accurately predict the opportunities and costs of developing and deploying these innovative technologies. The Program is currently sponsoring over 40 demonstration projects that will advance the commercial readiness of these systems, provide first-of-a-kind, in-water performance data that will validate cost-of-energy predictions, and identify pathways for large cost reductions.

These resource assessments, techno-economic assessments, and technology demonstration projects are critical elements of DOE's strategy to capture the very real opportunities associated with water power development, and to further define the path to supplying 15% of the nation's electricity through water power technologies.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. DOE's Water Power Program is paving the way for industry and government to make sound investment and policy decisions about the deployment of renewable water power technologies by quantifying the nation's theoretically available water power resources.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Clearing a Potential Roadblock to Bisabolane

From the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:

Clearing a Potential Roadblock to Bisabolane
Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Identify Key Enzyme Structure
January 09, 2012
Lynn Yarris (510) 486-5375

JBEI researchers determined the structure of the AgBIS enzyme and found it to consist of three helical domains, the first three-domain structure ever found in a synthase of sesquiterpenes. This discovery holds importance for advanced biofuels and other applications.

The recent discovery that bisabolane, a member of the terpene class of chemical compounds used in fragrances and flavorings, holds high promise as a biosynthetic alternative to D2 diesel fuel has generated keen interest in the green energy community and the trucking industry. Now a second team of researchers with the U.S Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has determined the three-dimensional crystal structure of a protein that is key to boosting the microbial-based production of bisabolane as an advanced biofuel.

The JBEI research team, led by bioengineers Paul Adams and Jay Keasling, solved the protein crystal structure of an enzyme in the Grand fir (Abies grandis) that synthesizes bisabolene, the immediate terpene precursor to bisabolane. The performance of this enzyme – the Abies grandis α-bisabolene synthase (AgBIS) – when engineered into microbes, has resulted in a bottleneck that hampers the conversion by the microbes of simple sugars into bisabolene.

“Our high resolution structure of AgBIS should make it possible to design changes in the enzyme that will enable microbes to make bisabolene faster,” says Adams, a leading authority on x-ray crystallography. “It should also enable us to engineer out inhibition effects that slow throughput, and perhaps also  engineer the enzyme to produce other kinds of fuels similar to bisabolane.”

Adams, who heads JBEI’s Technologies Division, is the corresponding author of a paper describing this work in the Cell Press journal Structure. The paper is titled “Structure of a Three-Domain Sesquiterpene Synthase: A Prospective Target for Advanced Biofuels Production.” Co-authoring it with Adams and Keasling were Ryan McAndrew, Pamela Peralta-Yahya, Andy DeGiovanni, Jose Pereira and Masood Hadi.

JBEI is one of three DOE Bioenergy Research Centers established by DOE’s Office of Science to advance the technology for the commercial production of advanced biofuels. It is a multi-institutional partnership led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and headquartered in Emeryville, CA.

This past fall, JBEI researchers identified bisabolane as a potential new advanced biofuel that could replace D2 diesel, today’s standard fuel for diesel engines, with a clean, green, renewable alternative that’s produced in the United States. Using the tools of synthetic biology, the researchers engineered strains of bacteria and yeast to produce bisabolene from simple sugars, which was then hydrogenated into bisabolane. While showing much promise, the yields of bisabolene have to be improved for microbial-based production of bisabolane fuel to be commercially viable.

“The inefficient terpene synthase enzyme is one of the bottlenecks in the metabolic pathway used by the engineered microbes,” says Peralta-Yahya, a lead member of the earlier JBEI team as well as the current team. “Knowing the AgBIS crystal structure will guide us in engineering it for improved catalytic efficiency and stability, which should bring our bisabolene yields closer to economic competitiveness.”

Peralta-Yahya and her colleagues determined that the AgBIS enzyme consists of three helical domains, the first three-domain structure ever found in a synthase of sesquiterpenes – terpene compounds that contain 15 carbon atoms. The discovery of this unique structure holds importance on several fronts, as co-lead author of the Structure paper McAndrew explains.

“That we found the structure of AgBIS to be more similar to diterpene (20 carbon terpene compounds) synthases not only provides us with insight into the function of these less well characterized enzymes, it also provides us with clues to the evolutionary heritage as the archetypal three-domain terpenoid synthases became two-domain sesquiterpene synthases in plants. Furthering our knowledge of the structures and functions of terpenoid synthases may prove to have abundant practical applications aside from advanced biofuels because these enzymes produce a wide variety of specialized chemicals.”

Solving the three-dimensional crystal structure of AgBIS was made possible by the protein crystallography capabilities of Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), a DOE Office of Science national user facility for synchrotron radiation, and the first of the world’s third generation light sources. For this work, the JBEI team used three of the five protein crystallography beamlines operated by the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology (BCSB) – beamlines 8.2.1, 8.2.2, and 5.0.3.

“We needed to use multiple beamlines because we collected data on several crystals – the protein by itself, and the protein with different inhibitors/cofactors,” says Adams, who headed the  BCSB from 2004 to 2011. “Also, the approach we used to solve the AgBIS structure required high flux tunable x-rays such as those provided at 8.2.1 and 8.2.2, which are superbend beamlines.”

This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.
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