Thursday, August 25, 2016

EERE: A Boost for Vehicle Efficiency, Small Business Vouchers, and Wave Energy

EERE: A Boost for Vehicle Efficiency, Small Business Vouchers, and Wave Energy

A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

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August 24, 2016

News and Events


News and Events

Energy Department Announces $137 Million Investment in Vehicle Efficiency

The Energy Department on August 16 announced up to $137 million in investments for two programs to develop next-generation technologies and to accelerate technology advances for passenger cars and light trucks.

One initiative, SuperTruck II, will continue work that originally began in 2010 to improve heavy-duty truck freight efficiency by 50%. Now, the Energy Department will fund four projects to develop and demonstrate cost-effective technologies that more than double the freight efficiency of Class 8 trucks, commonly known as 18-wheelers. These trucks haul 80% of goods in the United States and use about 28 billion gallons of fuel per year, accounting for around 22% of total transportation energy usage.

The Energy Department awarded the following four projects $20 million in federal funding, and each recipient will match that amount, dollar-for-dollar:

  • Cummins Inc. in Columbus, Indiana, will design and develop a new, more-efficient engine and advanced drivetrain and vehicle technologies.

  • Daimler Trucks North America in Portland, Oregon, will develop and demonstrate a tractor-trailer combination using a suite of technologies.

  • Navistar in Lisle, Illinois, will design and develop a vehicle and powertrain with electrified engine components that can enable higher engine efficiency and a significantly more aerodynamically reengineered cab.

  • Volvo Technology of America in Greensboro, North Carolina, will develop and demonstrate a tractor-trailer combination with a lightweight cab that achieves the freight efficiency goal using alternative engine designs and a variety of system technologies.

Through another initiative, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Vehicle Technologies Office Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement selections, 35 new projects will receive $57 million to develop and deploy a wide array of cutting-edge vehicle technologies—including advanced batteries and electric drive systems—to reduce carbon emissions and petroleum consumption in passenger cars and light trucks. The Vehicle Technologies Office Program Wide Selections will aim to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of plug-in electric, alternative fuel, and conventional vehicles. See the Energy Department news release.

Energy Department Awards 43 Small Business Vouchers in Pilot

The Energy Department on August 18 announced that 43 small businesses will participate in the second round of the Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot. With vouchers in hand, these businesses can better leverage the world-class capabilities of the Department's national laboratories and bring their next-generation clean energy technologies to the marketplace faster. The awards total more than $8 million and these small business collaborations focus on the following areas:

  • Advanced Manufacturing: Eight projects will focus on improvements in manufacturing, including developing cheaper, more energy-efficient manufacturing methods.

  • Bioenergy: Five collaborations related to bioenergy will focus on cleaner methods of producing biochemicals, including developing biodegradable substitutes for conventional, oil-based plastics.

  • Buildings: Three projects in the buildings area will focus on modeling and validating new products designed to improve building efficiency.

  • Fuel Cells: Ten projects related to fuel cells are aimed at reducing the costs and improving the performance of fuel cells, such as finding ways to lower the costs of membrane electrode assemblies, a critical component of a fuel cell stack.

  • Geothermal: Four collaborations in geothermal research will focus on exploring a recently discovered geothermal resource in Nevada.

  • Solar: Two projects will focus on improving solar energy storage solutions and reducing the costs and time associated with analyzing and testing solar arrays.

  • Vehicles: Six projects will work to improve vehicle fuel efficiency, including exploring new ways to create and improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries.

For example, Hyperlight Energy in La Jolla, California, will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to perform thermal modeling, assessment, and evaluation in support of thermal battery storage options for use in solar thermal or geothermal hybrid power plants. Convergent Science in Madison, Wisconsin, will work with the Argonne National Laboratory to improve engine efficiency by scaling up predictive engine simulations through high-performance computing.

The Department opened the first round of SBV, a Technology-to-Market Lab Impact pilot, in fall 2015. In SBV's first round, 33 small businesses were selected to receive vouchers totaling $6.7 million. To date, the Department's SBV pilot has connected 76 small businesses with the labs, totaling $15 million worth in vouchers. See the Energy Department news release and the list of the second round of SBV projects PDF.

Energy Department Announces Up to $40 Million for an Open-water Wave Energy Test Site

The Energy Department on August 16 announced up to $40 million in available funding to support the site selection, design, permitting, and construction of a national open-water, wave energy testing facility within U.S. federal or state waters. The Department anticipates the facility will contain at least three berths to simultaneously and independently test wave energy devices. The testing facility will gather critical performance data to address technical risks, lower costs, and inform future designs to accelerate the commercialization and deployment of wave energy technologies in the United States.

As part of its marine and hydrokinetic technology research and development efforts, the Energy Department is working to harness this largely untapped renewable energy resource. The project selected for funding will construct an open-water, grid-connected, fully energetic domestic wave test facility to support the full-scale testing of wave energy devices. It will address the challenges that the ocean environment poses for wave energy systems, which must operate in often harsh and unpredictable conditions for years.

Recent studies found that America's technically recoverable wave energy resource is estimated to range between approximately 900 terawatt hours (TWh) and 1,230 TWh per year, distributed across the coast of Alaska, the West Coast, the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. For context, approximately 90,000 homes can be powered by 1 TWh per year. This means that even if only 5% of the potential is recovered, millions of homes could be powered by wave energy as the technology matures. See the Energy Department news release and the funding opportunity announcement.


Generating a Sustainable Wind Energy Future Thanks to Low Prices

Charles F. Brush, an innovator from Ohio, used a 12-kilowatt wind turbine to generate power for his home east of downtown Cleveland. His business, Brush Electric Company, later consolidated with other pioneering electric companies to form the industrial giant General Electric.

Fast-forward more than 100 years to today, and the wind industry has grown by leaps and bounds from Brush's backyard operation. According to the Energy Department's new 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report, the total installed wind power capacity from turbines rated at more than 100 kilowatts (utility-scale) in the United States grew at an impressive rate of 12% in 2015 and stands at nearly 74 gigawatts, meeting 5.6% of U.S. end-use electricity demand in an average year. The nearly 8.6 gigawatts of capacity installed during 2015 represents a 77% increase over total installations in 2014. Additionally, more than 4,300 utility-scale wind turbines were installed across 64 projects in 20 states in 2015, bringing the total fleet to more than 48,500 operating utility-scale wind turbines in 40 states and Puerto Rico. According to the 2015 Distributed Wind Market Report, about 75,000 small and distributed wind turbines reside across all 50 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Overall, wind energy in America has the capacity to power more than 19 million homes.

The U.S. wind power market remains strong thanks to sustained low prices, rapidly increasing wind energy generation, and growing corporate demand. In 2015, the wind energy sector supported roughly 88,000 jobs across the country and investments grew to $14.5 billion within the U.S. economy, proving that more deployment is on the horizon. Texas continues to lead the way in both annual and cumulative capacity installations, while Iowa derives almost one-third of its electricity from wind. For the complete story, see the EERE Blog.


This newsletter is funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and is also available on the EERE website. If you have questions or comments about this newsletter, please contact the editor, Ernie Tucker.

This service is provided to you by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).


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