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July 21, 2011

Competitions Will Encourage Entrepreneurship in Clean Energy Nationwide

Washington, D.C. - As part of the Obama Administration’s effort to support and empower the next generation of American clean energy entrepreneurs, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $2 million in available funding for the National University Clean Energy Business Challenge. This nationwide initiative will create a network of regional student-focused clean energy business creation competitions whose winners will compete for a National Grand Prize at a completion held at the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. in early summer 2012. The funding will support  up to six regional competitions  that will inspire, mentor, and train students from across the country to develop successful business plans  to create a new generation of American clean energy companies. These regional competitions will take place before May 1, 2012. This national initiative will enable student participants to gain the skills required to build new businesses and transform promising innovative energy technologies from U.S. universities and national laboratories into innovative new energy products that will to solve our nation’s energy challenges, spur business creation, create American jobs, and boost American competitiveness.

"Fostering innovation at America’s universities and producing our nation’s next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs is vital to ensuring our nation’s competiveness in the clean energy economy of tomorrow," said Secretary Chu. "This investment will train a new generation of scientific and technical leaders and support the Administration’s continued effort to ensure that America has the workforce we need to secure our energy future, create jobs here at home, and win the future."

This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will consider applications that propose annual U.S. university-based business creation competitions for student entrepreneurs with business ideas in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Student teams that participate in the competitions will work with experienced mentors from the energy industry and start up community, along with university and national lab-based researchers, to develop creative business plans for transforming ground-breaking energy technologies into high impact market solutions. The FOA has been posted to FedConnect and is available under the reference number “DE-FOA-0000570.” Applications are due on August 22, 2011.  Selections are expected to be made before the end of September 2011.

This initiative, facilitated by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), aims to increase the number and quality of start-up businesses created with university-based energy technologies and to promote a new generation of energy entrepreneurs. The 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.

Media contact(s):

(202) 586-4940

July 19, 2011

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Ad Council today launched a national consumer education campaign to help consumers save money on utility bills. Created pro bono by Texas-based advertising agency GSD&M, the public service advertisements (PSAs), aim to help consumers save money on their energy bills by doing things such as sealing leaks in their homes and using energy efficient products.

"Americans spend about $2,000 per household on energy every year - but many of them could save a few hundred of that without changing their lifestyle," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Many American families can take simple steps to reduce their energy bill, while making their homes more comfortable, and use that money for something they really need or want." 
The PSAs direct homeowners to, where they can find tools and information to help them make their homes more efficient. Energy-saving tips on the website include:

  • Saving more than $100 a year on heating and cooling bills by using a programmable thermostat to make sure you are only conditioning your home when you need to be;
  • Upgrading 15 of the traditional light bulbs in your home, which could save you about $50 per year; and
  • Using Energy Star qualified appliances to save even more.

"We are thrilled to continue our partnership with DOE on this vital energy efficiency campaign," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "These PSAs will demonstrate to homeowners nationwide the variety of energy efficient alternatives that can provide sustainable savings over time."

"We have a long history with, and are committed to supporting, the Ad Council on public issues affecting our nation," said Duff Stewart, president and CEO of GSD&M. "That’s why we are honored to partner with the U.S. Department of Energy on the topic of energy efficiency and to help communicate easy ways to save money at home."

Following the Ad Council’s model, the announcements will be distributed to media outlets nationwide and will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.

To see tips and the ads prepared as part of the campaign, visit

The U.S. Department of Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy stands at the forefront of the United States’ effort to meet energy and environment, scientific, and national security goals. DOE works to meet growing energy demand with clean, safe, affordable, reliable and diverse supplies of energy through scientific discovery and investments with partners to push new technology rapidly into the marketplace. Among many other roles, the Department also supports American economic growth by promoting energy efficiency practices in homes, businesses and industry.

The Advertising Council
The Ad Council is a non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action, and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit the Ad Council’s website.

GSD&M is an advertising agency celebrating its 40th year of helping some of the world’s most iconic brands win by articulating and activating their core purpose - the difference a brand strives to make in its customers’ lives. GSD&M is part of Omnicom Group, Inc. For more information, visit GSD&M’s website.

Media contact(s):

U.S. Department of Energy 

Ad Council 
Lisa Cullen

Melanie Mahaffey 


‘Quick Charge’ Trucks Will Save Your Stranded EV 

AAA is rolling out North America’s first fleet of quick-charge trucks that will rescue dead electric vehicles and get them back on the road.

The move, announced today at the big Plug-In Conference & Exposition in Raleigh, North Carolina, should help alleviate “range anxiety,” the nagging fear of being stranded with a dead battery. AAA is the perfect vehicle — pardon the pun — for this because it is a big provider of roadside assistance. The company, which has more than 52 million members, wants to establish itself in a new niche as more automakers join Nissan in offering mainstream mass-market EVs.

“As an EV advocate-turned EV salesman, I applaud the AAA for taking the lead offering this service to EV drivers,” said Paul Scott, a founder of the advocacy group Plug-In America. “Many people have asked me what would happen if they were to run out of juice on the freeway and now I have a very good answer: They get juiced up by AAA.”

via electricpower:

July 14, 2011

"Most Efficient" designation will help shoppers reduce their energy bills, provide incentives for manufacturers to innovate, and protect Americans’ public health and environment

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today are announcing for the first time products recognized as the most energy-efficient in their categories among those that have earned the Energy Star label. This pilot program is part of Energy Star’s overall commitment to protect people’s health and the environment by encouraging energy efficiency. The “Most Efficient” initiative also continues Energy Star’s work to provide consumers with the best efficiency information so they can make investments that will lower their energy bills and environmental impact. The new designation of Most Efficient aims to provide all manufacturers with an incentive for greater product energy efficiency while providing consumers new information about the products that comprise the top tier in the categories. 

"This new designation will help Americans save money and cut pollution by quickly pointing them to the best Energy Star products have to offer. Highlighting Energy Star’s Most Efficient products is a great way to encourage the strides in innovation that bring even more energy and money saving choices to our stores," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "We know American consumers are eager to make purchases that save them money on their utility bills and reduce the pollution in the air we breathe, and these labels will help them identify the best ways to find those purchases." 

"Over the last two decades, the Energy Star program has consistently offered consumers energy choices that have helped families save billions of dollars on their energy bills," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "The new Most Efficient designation is the next step towards encouraging new, more energy-efficient products to enter the market, so that consumers will have even more choices when it comes to high performance, high efficiency products that will save them energy and money." 

Products that receive the Most Efficient designation demonstrate exceptional and cutting-edge efficiency performance that environmentally-minded consumers and early adopters value. The Most Efficient recognition will represent approximately the top five percent of models on the market in the following categories: clothes washers, heating and cooling equipment, televisions, and refrigerator-freezers. The following Energy Star partners’ products are among the first to be recognized as Most Efficient: Electrolux Major Appliances, Sears’ Kenmore, LG, Samsung, Best Buy’s Insignia Brand, Panasonic, Nordyne, and Rheem. Later this year, EPA will initiate a process to consider additional product categories for potential inclusion in 2012. 

Consumers will be able to identify Most Efficient products on the Energy Star website and in stores by looking for the Most Efficient designation. In addition to meeting established performance requirements, products must also be Energy Star qualified and certified by an EPA-recognized certification body. Manufacturers are encouraged to submit products that meet the requirements to EPA for recognition. 

Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to help Americans save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 60 different kinds of products as well as new homes and commercial and industrial buildings that meet strict energy efficiency specifications set by the EPA. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $18 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to annual emissions of 33 million vehicles. 

More information on Energy Star’s Most Efficient qualifications: 

More information on Energy Star’s Most Efficient products: 

More information on the Energy Star program: 

July 13, 2011

Project Expected to Generate Over 2,500 Jobs and Manufacture Advanced Steel to Improve Fuel Efficiency

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the offer of a $730 million conditional loan commitment to Severstal Dearborn, LLC.  The funding will support the modernization of existing facilities in Dearborn, Michigan, in addition to the design, manufacture, and construction of new facilities to produce the next generation of automotive advanced high strength steel (AHSS).  The Severstal project has the potential to significantly increase the supply of AHSS in North America as demand continues to grow for fuel-efficient vehicles. An increased supply for this breakthrough technology steel will help U.S. automotive manufacturers meet the pending and future design, weight, and safety requirements of advanced technology vehicles.  Severstal estimates the project will generate over 2,500 construction jobs and over 260 permanent manufacturing jobs.

"The Severstal project will help make American automakers more competitive as demand for lighter, more fuel efficient vehicles increases," said Secretary Steven Chu.  "By manufacturing more advanced high strength steel here at home, we rely less on imports and create thousands of new jobs that get people back to work."

"Today’s announcement is great news for the company and its workers, for Michigan and for the nation," said Senator Carl Levin. "To compete today and in the future and create jobs, our manufacturers must develop breakthrough technologies in a range of areas, and this loan announcement is an important step toward developing and marketing such technologies."

"In Michigan we certainly welcome this announcement that will put so many people back to work," said Senator Debbie Stabenow, author of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing initiative. "This is exactly how this initiative is supposed to work.  An old factory is being transformed to produce advanced technology products that will make our cars safer and more fuel-efficient, and employ thousands of Michigan residents in the process.  I am very thankful to Secretary Chu and his staff for selecting Michigan for this investment."

"I am extremely pleased that the Department of Energy has decided to grant Severstal an Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan," said Representative John Dingell.  "The $730 million Severstal will receive will support the company’s production of lightweight, high strength steel, which will improve automobile fuel efficiency without compromising safety.  More importantly, this loan will support 260 new jobs at Severstal’s Michigan locations. Secretary Chu has my heartfelt thanks for his wise decision to support the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow in my district.  This loan will help Severstal and Southeast Michigan advance the President’s goal of out-innovating and out-building the rest of the world."

The facilities will produce a wide range of advanced high strength steels, which will enable manufacturers to reduce the weight of steel components used in vehicles, creating a 10 percent reduction in total vehicle weight while meeting increasingly stringent safety regulations. Severstal’s AHSS project has the potential to reduce petroleum-based fuels consumption by nearly 30 million gallons annually, and thus avoid over 260,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office administers three separate programs:  the Title XVII Section 1703 and Section 1705 loan guarantee programs, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.   The loan guarantee programs support the deployment of commercial technologies along with innovative technologies that avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gas emissions, while ATVM supports the development of advanced vehicle technologies.  Including all three programs, DOE has issued loans, loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $40 billion to support 42 clean energy projects across the U.S.  Including Severstal, the Department has provided over $9 billion in loans to advanced technology vehicle manufacturers, including Ford Motor Company, Fisker Automotive, Nissan North America, Tesla Motors, and Vehicle Production Group.

Media contact(s):

(202) 586-4940


By Chandler Clay

Yes, you read that correctly. Texas, the highest CO2-emitting state or province in the world, now gets a substantial portion of its power from the wind.

The extensive history of coal mining and conservative politics hasn’t earned Texas the best reputation among…

By Marc Favreau, Geothermal Digest

Washington, DC — A few weeks after doling out $70 million for much the same purpose, the Department of Energy (DOE), through its Geothermal Technologies Program, has announced another $11.3 million in grants will go to eight projects in five states in support of the research and development of advanced geothermal technologies. The awards will fund projects to be administered by companies in Texas, Connecticut and California (2), the Livermore and Berkeley National Labs in California and universities in Louisiana and Utah.

According to the DOE, the selected projects are part of the Department’s efforts to reduce the cost of geothermal energy in order to make the technology competitive with conventional sources of electricity. The money will allow awardees to conduct feasibility studies during Phase I, including technical and economic modeling and component design. If selected for Phase II, awardees would then validate the designs in real-world environments. 

GeoTek Energy, LLC, headquartered in Midland, Texas, will receive up to $2.85 million to study the technical feasibility of a new generation of gravity-driven downhole pumps. The company’s Gravity Head Energy System (GHES) uses gravity to eliminate the need for extensive pumping requirements – in effect using electricity to make electricity – inherent to the binary cycle. It has the potential to improve the overall efficiency of a plant by 25-30%, and makes for a smaller surface footprint by placing the equipment downhole.

According to GeoTek’s Chief Operating Officer Ken Fryiear, GHES has been under development for several years and the grant money gives the company the opportunity to focus on that development. He added that GHES is to be tested in a pilot well currently being drilled in Nevada.

Westport, CT’s GTherm, Inc. will receive a rather modest award of up to $200,000. When contacted, spokesperson Irene Lebovics said that the company had just been made aware of the award, and did not know which of two applications had been approved. The company is awaiting clarification and is “excited about the grant.”

The money will fund the investigation into the technical feasibility, heat extraction potential, and cost impact of a single well geothermal system, which says little about GTherm’s technology. The company is developing Single Well Engineered Geothermal System or SWEGS, which is a very intriguing technology that pretty much takes everything you know about producing electricity from the earth’s heat and turns it on its head.

SWEGS does not need a water reservoir, and in fact the closed-loop system doesn’t need any water at all. And the working fluid in the loop boils at a lower temperature than water, so the technology can effectively generate electricity at 195°F. Drilling a few miles deep, this translates to the ability to generate electricity pretty much anywhere. By not requiring a water reservoir, SWEGS eliminates all the environmental and seismic issues inherent in advanced geothermal systems.

In California, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratoryis in line for up to $874,000 to study producing geothermal energy at low cost and risk by integrating geothermal production with CO2 capture and storage (CCS) in sedimentary formations. Mike Brown,Assistant Manager for Sustainability and Infrastructure said the Lab’s proposal calls for combining CO2 injection, brine extraction and reverse-osmosis treatment and residual-brine reinjection to produce geothermal energy as well as fresh water.  

Geothermal energy production can be limited by pressure depletion, and where CO2 storage is concerned, pressure build up is the limiting consideration. The project aims to show that CO2 injection can provide the pressure support to maintain geothermal well productivity, while the net loss of brine through desalinization provides pressure relief and improved CO2 injectivity. 

The largest grant in the group by far will go to a sister facilityLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, also in California. They will receive up to $4.99 million for project titled “The Geothermal Energy Coupled with CCS (CO2 capture and storage): Heat Recovery Using an Innovative High Efficiency Supercritical CO2 Turboexpansion Cycle.” The project would develop new ways to produce electricity from superheated and pressurized carbon dioxide in deep geothermal formations. No one from the Lab was available to comment in time for publication.

In addition, no one was available to elaborate on any of the last four projects by deadline. In summary they are: 

  • Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, which will get up to $997,000 for The Zero Mass Withdrawal, Engineered Convection and Wellbore Energy Conversion project, which will evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of technologies that circulate reservoir fluids to increase heat extraction.
  • Physical Optics Corp. in Torrance, CA, set to get up to $200,000 for The Heat Extraction from Geothermal Systems project, which will investigate a technology that converts hot vapor into cooler liquids at high efficiencies, which would increase electricity yield from geothermal sources.
  • Terralog Technologies USA, Inc., Monrovia, CA, which is to receive up to $541,000 for The Advanced Horizontal Well Recirculation Systems for Geothermal Energy Recovery project, which will investigate and develop advanced geothermal well designs that optimize combinations of vertical and horizontal wells.
  • University of Utah in Salt Lake City will get up to $671,000 for The Novel Development of Geothermal Systems in the United States project will assess the electric generating capacity, economics, and environmental impacts of developing deep sedimentary and crystalline reservoirs throughout the entire U.S.

The Energy Department under the current administration continues to foster innovation and technical advances in renewable and sustainable energy systems including geothermal, all in hopes of achieving President Barack Obama’s goal of generating 80% of U.S. electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

In the grant announcement, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said “Through these eight projects, the Department of Energy is investing in new technologies that will further develop the nation’s geothermal resources and help diversify our energy portfolio. By investing in geothermal research and development, we are investing in our nation’s energy future and creating opportunities for energy innovation in the U.S.”


Researchers discovered that a simple coating on siliconnanowires, very small materials used in solar cells and other applications, will increase the latter’s ability to convert sunlight to energy.

Latest on the DOE.

July 7, 2011

Project Will Create Over 200 Jobs and Displace an Estimated 13.5 Million Gallons of Gasoline Annually

Washington D.C. - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the offer of a conditional commitment for a $105 million loan guarantee to support the development of the nation’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant.  Project LIBERTY, sponsored by POET, LLC, will produce up to 25 million gallons of ethanol per year and will be located in Emmetsburg, Iowa.  POET estimates the project will generate approximately 200 jobs during construction and 40 permanent jobs at the plant.  POET estimates the project will also bring approximately $14 million in new revenue to area farmers.

"This project will help decrease our dependence on oil, create jobs and aid our transition to clean, renewable energy that is produced here at home," said Secretary Chu.  "The innovations used in this project are another example of how we are seizing the opportunity to create new economic opportunities to win the clean energy future."

"Projects like the one we are announcing today show that our investments in next generation biofuels are paying off," said Secretary Vilsack. "Project LIBERTY will produce up to 25 million gallons of ethanol per year, create over 200 jobs, and generate millions of dollars in revenue for the local economy. This project is an important step in the Obama Administration’s effort to break our nation’s unsustainable dependence on foreign oil and move toward a clean energy economy."

"POET has given this initiative the very apt name Project Liberty, and it is appropriate that this announcement comes so close to Independence Day," said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), a senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  "This is all about decreasing American’s dependence on oil from unstable and often hostile foreign sources.  And this pioneering facility will kick-start a major domestic industry producing advanced biofuels from plentiful feedstocks like crop residues, native grasses and woody materials, creating thousands of jobs in rural America.  I thank Secretary Chu and the Department for their commitment to accelerating America’s transition from dependence on imported oil to greater reliance on to clean, domestically produced biofuels." 

Unlike many conventional corn ethanol plants, Project LIBERTY will use corncobs, leaves and husks - sources provided by local farmers - that do not compete with feed grains.  The project’s innovative process uses enzymatic hydrolysis to convert waste into ethanol and will produce enough biogas to power both Project LIBERTY and POET’s adjacent grain-based ethanol plant.  Project LIBERTY will displace over 13.5 million gallons of gasoline annually and fulfill more than 25 percent of the projected 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard Requirement for biomass-based cellulosic ethanol.  POET plans to replicate their unique process at 27 of their other corn ethanol facilities, which would have a projected combined annual capacity of one billion gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol.  The company estimates that 85 percent of Project LIBERTY will be sourced with U.S. content.

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office administers three separate programs:  the Title XVII Section 1703 and Section 1705 loan guarantee programs, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.   The loan guarantee programs support the deployment of commercial technologies along with innovative technologies that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions, while ATVM supports the development of advanced vehicle technologies.  Under all three programs, DOE has issued loans, loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $38 billion to support 41 clean energy projects across the U.S.  DOE has issued conditional commitments or loan guarantees to support numerous projects, including several of the world’s largest solar generation facilities, three geothermal projects, the world’s largest wind farm, and the nation’s first new nuclear power plant in three decades.  For more information, please visit the Loan Programs Office.  

Media contact(s):

(202) 586-4940

Excellent article by Star Tribune. Africa, a continent burdened with famine, oppressive ruling, and negligence, may get a second breath of rejuvenation from our developments in the clean energy industry. 


  • Article by: MICHAEL CASEY , Associated Press 
  • Updated: July 8, 2011 - 6:40 AM

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - African governments should consider investing in renewable energies like wind, solar and hydro power to help feed the continent’s growing energy demands and combat threats of climate change, the head of a new international energy agency said Friday.

Adnan Amin also told nearly 30 African energy and foreign affairs ministers at the start of a two-day meeting that the key to ramping up renewable energy deployment was for countries to develop regulatory framework needed to convince institutional investors it’s safe to put their money into these cutting edge technologies.

"If Africa continues to grow at pace it is growing and intensifies that growth and uses only carbon-emitting forms of energy, it will exponentially change the picture on climate change and make it much worse," said Amin, a Kenyan who is director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

"We need right now to start making the kinds of investment that will lead Africa on a very different path," he said.

There is a global push to reduce dependence on traditional forms of energy like oil and coal as part of efforts to combat global warming and keep temperatures from rising more than 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit (2 Celsius) above preindustrial-era levels, which could trigger catastrophic climate impacts.

Until now, African has largely been left on the sidelines of discussions about climate change, mostly because its poor nations only use 5 percent of the world’s energy.

But that thinking is beginning to change, as Africa’s economy picks up steam and demands intensify to provide electricity to the more than half a billion mostly rural residents who live without it. There is also a push in Africa to find cleaner sources of energy, since almost half now come from burning wood and charcoal.

Rajendar Pachauri, who chairs the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told the meeting in Abu Dhabi that he sees great potential for renewable energy in Africa, especially hydro, solar and wind.

He said renewables will be cheaper than traditional sources and that Africa has an abundance of land that could be used to solar and wind farms.

"The potential is enormous," he said on the sidelines of the meeting. "Given the fact we have over 500 million people without access to electricity, that is huge niche market that could be tapped in an economically viable way. If you would provide this section of society with electricity from the grid, it would turn out to be far more expensive."

Ministers and officials from the African Union and African development agencies all talked up the potential for renewables, with many saying the best hopes lie with hydro power in countries with large rivers, geothermal in Kenya’s Rift Valley and solar almost everywhere on the continent.

Sugarcane producing countries could also burn the refuge to produce energy in a process known as biogas.

"We have sun in abundance and that is an area we can tap," Gambia’s Foreign Minister Mamadou Tangara said. "The initial investment is very high but in terms of sustainability and the long term impact, renewable energy is the way forward for Africa."