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You are here: EERE Program Home Newsletters > EERE Program News March, 2008

March, 2008

Meyers NmG car, small three-wheel electric commuter vehicles in parking lot
Is there an electric car in your commuting future? Meyers Motors, Tallmadge, Ohio, says they've already arrived, and they have the vehicles for sale to prove it.
(Video) (Web Site)

(Photo courtesy of Meyers Motors)


As April 22, Earth Day 2008 approaches, we explore a number of ways people are integrating clean energy choices into their lives and businesses.

EERE's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) has developed an Earth Day outreach program, You Have the Power, that taps into energy efficiency as one of our most powerful environmental improvement tools.

In News, learn how older, earth-friendly technologies can still help save energy in today's world; using wind kites to help power cargo ships.

Also learn about a new solar plant being built in Arizona, and how Connecticut hopes to improve building energy efficiency through regulation.

Features highlights people and companies using clean technologies to help make every day Earth Day. Learn about Google's strong commitment to solar power. Video.





News Releases






Cargo ship completes maiden voyage using wind kite

Innovative wind kite pulls cargo ship

Innovative wind kite helps cut fuel consumption by 20 percent on the German ship, Beluga Sky Sails.
Enlarge this photo

(photo courtesy of WINTECC)



An innovative European Community project demonstrates the possibility of returning to wind-assisted sailing on the open seas.

The German cargo ship, Beluga SkySails, successfully completed its maiden voyage this month, providing proof that its kite towing system can cut fuel use by up to 20 percent.

The automatically steered towing kite prototype operates on a multi-purpose, ocean-going vessel during regular service. The SkySails-System and the wave monitoring system WaMoS II from OceanWaveS were installed on the heavy-lift multi-purpose carrier MV "Beluga SkySails". The 140 meter-long vessel belongs to the Beluga Group, a shipping company in Bremen, Germany.

See full article in EERE Network News.

SkySails press release

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280-megawatt solar power plant going up in Arizona

Arizona Public Service Company will draw power from a 280-megawatt concentrating solar power plant planned near Gila Bend, Ariz., about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix. Called the Solana Generating System, the new facility, to be built by Abengoa Solar, is expected to begin producing power in 2011. It will be among the largest solar power plants in the world, generating enough power at full capacity to serve 70,000 households.

The facility will use miles of parabolic trough-shaped mirrors to capture the sun's heat, then focus it on a length of "absorber" tubing. A fluid passed through the tubing collects the sun's heat, and the hot fluid is used to boil water to steam, which then spins a turbine to produce electricity.

Additionally, the plant will be capable of storing the sun's energy, allowing power production to continue into the evening hours.

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The truth about ethanol

Corn ethanol plant

Corn kernel-based ethanol is the first step in developing an increasingly efficient biofuel infrastructure that could ultimately supply up to 30 percent of U.S. transportation fuel needs.


In the past year DOE has announced over $1 billion in funding for multi-year biofuels research and development projects.

Some have questioned this growing commitment to biofuels. Here's a new EERE web page that helps sort out biomass myths vs. facts.


  • Today, on a life cycle basis, ethanol produced from corn results in about a 20-percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to gasoline. With improved efficiency and use of renewable energy, this reduction could be as much as 52-percent.
  • In the future, ethanol produced from cellulose has the potential to cut life cycle GHG emissions by up to 86-percent relative to gasoline.
  • Ethanol blended fuels currently in the market – whether E10 or E85 – meet stringent tailpipe emission standards.
  • Ethanol readily biodegrades without harm to the environment, and is a safe, high-performance replacement for fuel additives such as MTBE.

Another piece of the biofuels equation that is usually left out of the discussion is the gain in agricultural productivity that continues to occur on America's farms and in its agricultural processing plants.

According to the National Corn Growers Association, "In 1977, an acre of corn yielded enough grain (90.8 bushels) to produce about 200 gallons of ethanol.

"Since then, corn yield per acre has increased 69 percent, and ethanol plants are able to get 50 percent more biofuel out out a bushel of corn.

"Today, an average acre of corn will produce approximately 430 gallons of ethanol. And within the next decade that amount could climb to 600 gallons per acre or better."

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Connecticut moves toward green building regulation

Energy efficient water treatment facility in Connecticut

Award-winning, energy efficient water treatment facility in New Haven, Connecticut


Connecticut is pushing energy efficient buildings that will also be healthier, more productive places to work.

Buildings costing $5 million or more and that use at least $2 million of state funds will be required to meet the improved energy efficiency standards. The new standards will also apply to building renovations of $2 million or more that utilize at least $2 million of state funding.

The new standards call for improved indoor air quality, lower operating costs from energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The new regulation, currently out for public comment, will be based on standareds developed by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) point system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

For more information

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Gateway to energy investment opportunities

EERE provides many opportunities for venture capital investment. A good starting point to learn more about the these opportunities can be found on a new EERE commercialization web page.

The page holds information about the Entrepreneur in Residence Program and also features the DOE Venture Capital Technology Showcase Presentations.

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Trees growing on slope to ocean, Dominican Republic
In 1970, our collective view of the earth, our environment and what it means to be stewards of that environment began to shift. The first celebration of Earth Day was a contributing agent in that change. Thirty-eight years later, the celebration continues.
Photo courtesy National Geographic


Earth Day 2008

As Earth Day 2008 approches on April 22; it is a good time to recognize some of the Earth Day pioneers.

The idea of "Earth Day" was originally promoted in 1969 by Environmentalist John McConnell, at a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conference on the global environment in San Francisco.

The following spring, San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto issued a proclamation declaring March 21, 1970 as the first Earth Day. In February, 1971, United Nations Secretary-General U Thant signed an international agreement proclaiming Spring Equinox each year to be Earth Day.

Meanwhile, in somewhat parallel activities, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson had, in late 1969, called for an environmental teach-in, or an event he would also call, Earth Day, be held on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated in that year's event. Since then most Americans consider April 22 to be Earth Day, though the United Nations also carries on with its Spring Equinox Earth Day each year.

When Senator Nelson began his efforts toward a national environmental teach-in, he staffed an office with college students and chose Dennis Hayes, a young staffer, as coordinator of the effort. Hayes, later, went on to become Director of the Solar Energy Research Institute, precurser to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and has been a leader of many Earth Day activities since that time.

This is also a good time to look back on the original Earth Day almost 40 yeara ago and recognize how far we have come in improving environmental stewardship -- and also how far we have to go. In this light, we look at some of the clean-tech thinking and solutions moving us closer to the Earth Day ideal.

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Clean-tech transportation

SmartforTwo cars parked on Rome street

Earth Day 2008 question: will Americans buy a $15,000, two-seater, gasoline-powered car with an EPA 2008 mileage rating of 33/40?


Smart USA, a division of Penske Automotive Group, thinks we will.


Smart USA's Web site points out that more than 800,000 of the cars have already been sold in 36 countries and are very popular in European cities.


U.S. dealerships


Electric vehicles are moving closer to market reality; here are some links of interest:

Mercedes counting on Lithium Ion battery breakthrough to speed electric cars to market

Electric vehicles could bring more pressure to change power generation choices

Electric Power Research Institute/Natural Resources Defense Council :The power to reduce CO2 emissions

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Clean-tech living

Utilities are turning to wind power and "smart grids" to help consumers save energy.

Wind power, solar power and high tech grid controls including net meterings and off-peak hours energy usage will soon help consumers save energy dollars.


Utilities, city governments and state regulators are beginning to collaborate to bring consumers more choices in energy efficiency. Boulder, Colorado and the State of Virginia are each working to bring "Smart Grid" electricity technology to consumers.

According to Dominion Virginia Power, these technologies will allow:

  • Deployment of “Smart Grid" technologies that will help deliver superior customer service and operational performance, such as real-time outage management and power quality monitoring;
  • Advanced Metering Infrastructure to enable conservation, peak pricing and demand response programs; and
  • Improvements to the distribution system to meet future storm reliability needs.

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Clean-tech jobs

Technician install solar panels on roof top.

Going green means more jobs for skilled technicians across a broad spectrum of new technologies.


Does "going green" cost jobs and hurt the economy? Some say yes, some say no.

The Natural Marketing Institute, a consulting firm helping companies go green, says that eco-conscious shoppers are a market-healthy, growing force. The institute estimates that the health and sustainability market in the U.S. hit $209 billion in 2005 and can reach $420 billion in 2010.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger backs the idea that "green" is good business. After pushing numerous environmental initiatives since coming into office in 2003, he recently told the Wall Street Journal that, "Far from being a burden on business, the emphasis on the environment has helped to create new green industries in our state.

"We have seen that more jobs are being created, more venture capitalists coming into California and there is a big boom in that area. As a matter of fact, your paper has called it the New Gold Rush, and I think that's what we're seeing now."

Here's a look at what other states are doing to create clean-tech opportunities.

Wisconsin: The state recently held a Renewable Energy Summit, featuring, "Green Jobs – Growing Wisconsin’s Economy." The post-conference web site gives many links and presentations about the expansion of opportunity in "green jobs."

Maine: The Governor's office will hold an Energy Efficiency Summit: Strengthening Business Through Energy Savings, April 3, 2008.

Michigan: As part of its 21st Century Job Fund, the state awarded almost $27 million in 2007 to organizations commercializing or supporting alternative energy technologies within the state.

Ohio: Lawmakers are currently weighing pros and cons of a clean energy bill that proponents say could create up to 1 million jobs.

National: Green Job Act of 2007, Title X of the 2007 Energy Bill created the Energy
Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Pilot Program.

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Clean-tech companies

Hundreds of U.S. companies have committed to using a variety of alternative energy resources, wind, biomass and solar to meet electricity and transportation needs.

Wal-Mart is making use of green technologies such as these solar panels on a daylit building.

One of the first things customers notice upon entering Wal-Mart’s store in McKinney, Texas are the daylighting and the solar panels on the roof.
Companies such as Wal-Mart and Staples are increasingly turning to solar power to supply as least part of their electricity needs.


Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott, for example, has set ambitious goals for the chain to be 100 percent powered by renewable energy, to create zero waste and to sell products that sustain resources and the environment.

In January, Wal-Mart and Sun Power announced the companies completed their 390-kilowatt solar power system at the Wal-Mart-owned Sam's Club in Chino, Calif., the first of seven solar facilities planned in the state, totaling 4.6 megawatts. SunPower installed its proprietary T-10 solar roof tiles, which tilt at a 10-degree angle to increase energy capture.

Staples, with over 1,900 retail locations around the world, has purchased nearly 122 million kilowatt-hours of green power, 20 percent of its power usage. Staples also now has nine solar-electric installations on distribution centers and retail stores across the nation, including its 300,000 square-foot retail center in Killingly, Conn. with a system larger than a football field, supplying 14 percent of the center's electricity.


Timberland, an outdoor retail company located in Statham, N.H., has 78 stores across the U.S. At their California distribution center, a 400-kilowatt on-site solar array produces approximately 60 percent of the facility’s electricity. Timberland also purchases wind-based renewable energy certificates (RECs), representing approximately three percent of the entire company’s purchased electricity use.

Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson is a founding Green Power Partner and an ongoing member of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Green Power Leadership Club. The company was honored as a Green Power Partner of the Year in 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007 and received a Green Power Leadership Award in 2002 and 2004. In its quest to become a corporate leader in addressing the challenge of climate change, Johnson & Johnson has committed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions seven percent below 1990 levels by 2010. To achieve this goal, Johnson & Johnson is investing in green power as an alternative to fossil fuel energy. Johnson & Johnson's green power use equals 39 percent of their US electricity use and includes the direct purchases of low-impact hydro and wind power, on-site solar PV, and the purchase of renewable energy certificates from wind power and biomass facilities.

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DOE Seal


EERE News Releases

March 12, 2008
U.S. Department of Energy to Invest up to $13.7 Million for Breakthrough Solar Energy Projects

March 07, 2008
U.S. Department of Energy Implements More Stringent Criteria for ENERGY STAR® Clothes Washers, Expands CFL Program

March 06, 2008
Energy Department - Electric Power Research Institute Cooperation to Increase Energy Efficiency

March 04, 2008
USDA, DOE to Invest up to $18.4 million for Biomass Research, Development and Demonstration Projects

February 27, 2008
U.S. Department of Energy Selects Venture Capital Firms to Accelerate Adoption of Advanced Energy Technologies

February 26, 2008
U.S. Department of Energy to Invest up to $33.8 Million to Further Development of Commercially Viable Renewable Fuels

February 25, 2008
Department of Energy Selects Winner of Wind Cooperative of the Year Award

Feb. 14, 2008
U.S. Department of Energy Challenges U.S. Homebuilding Industry 

Feb. 12, 2008
U. S. Department of Energy to Invest up to $20.6 Million for Solid-State Lighting Research and Development Projects

Feb. 11, 2008
DOE Releases Climate VISION Progress Report 2007

Feb. 8, 2008
DOE Announces Technology Transfer Policy to Move Cutting-Edge Technology Research to the Marketplace

Feb. 4, 2008
President Bush Requests $25 Billion for U.S. Department of Energy’s FY 2009 Budget

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Recent Speeches

February 27, 2008
Chief Operating Officer Paul Dickerson's remarks to the 4th International Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Expo in Tokyo, Japan
"Current global energy use accounts for more than 4/5 of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions. Without significant changes, by 2030, our emissions will rise by about 1/3 to nearly 8 billion metric tons of CO2 per year—with India and China accounting for almost half the gain. The United States alone imports nearly 10 million barrels of oil per day at a daily cost of $1 billion. And, by 2030, that number is expected to rise to more than 17 million barrels per day. So, if there is any question about whether the United States understands the scope of the challenges, I'm here to tell you—we get it...."

February 26, 2008
Assistant Secretary Alexander Karsner's remarks to the 13th Annual National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Fla.
"We have to change the quality and the substance and the depth of the dialogue [about biofuels], to ensure that all the facts are on the table with veracity and validity, and all the sources and assumptions are accounted for, so that this nation can proceed to lead the world into an intelligent debate about the way biofuels reduce our carbon footprints and enhance our environmental sustainability...."

Feb.14, 2008
Secretary of Energy Samuel L. Bodman before the National Association of Homebuilders' International Builders' Show, Orlando, Fla.
"As the challenge expands and more home builders sign on, we hope to spur the construction of 1.3 million high energy performance homes by 2030. If we reach that level, we will have... taken the carbon equivalent of 606,000 cars off the road annually.... The ultimate goal is to have all new homes achieve a zero rating– making them net-zero energy homes, producing at least as much energy as they consume." 

Feb. 7, 2008
Assistant Secretary Alexander Karsner's testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)
"This new law will result in the avoidance of billions of tons of greenhouse gases.... The modified RFS mandates 9 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2008, rising to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Of these 36 billion gallons, 21 billion in 2022 are to be obtained from cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels.... Continuing R&D will help facilitate achievement of these volumes, while ensuring that these fuels' greenhouse gas emission-reducing potential is realized...."

Jan. 22, 2008
Assistant Secretary Alexander Karsner's Remarks to the Washington Auto Show, Washington, D.C.
[The Energy Policy Act of 2007] fundamentally decouples the price of oil from the price of alternatives and assures the entry of [emission-reducing] renewable fuels into the marketplace. And we will assure multiple pathways... moving towards E85 and intermediate blend fuels, working together with the auto companies to see what is technically viable....

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If you have an event scheduled in the next year of regional or national interest to the energy efficiency and renewable energy communities, please contact us with pertinent information and a web link and we will include it in EERE Program News.Jack Jenkins, John Horst

Global Venture Challenge 2008 — April 2-4, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Educational event to foster entrepreneurial spirit by engaging students, industry, government and the investment community in the discovery and development of innovative ideas. The goal is to encourage students to launch new technology-based businesses including Bioenergy, and Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energies.

2008 Home Performance Conference — April 7-11, Pittsburgh, Penn.
Event focues on practices and opportunities for energy efficiency in residential buildings. Residential builders, remodelers and renovators can explore diagnostic methods, structural solutions, and installation practices to reduce the carbon footprint of new and existing homes.

SAE 2008 World Congress — April 14-17, Detroit, Mich.
This year's Society of Automotive Engineers, International (SAE) event carries a theme of, "A Climate for Change." Increased focus on energy security, new technology development, and increased energy cost has elevated renewable fuels as a hot topic for the 2008 Congress; topics to be covered include biodiesel and ethanol-gasoline blended fuel combustion and use.

New World Biomass Conference- Earth Day 2008 — April 22-24, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Event will focus on earth-friendly energy technologies including biomass. It will include a two-day tradeshow, with 100+ exhibitors.

Solar 2008 — May 3-6, San Diego, Calif.
Event's theme is “Catch the Clean Energy Wave" — representing the growing movement towards renewable energy as a key component in climate recovery, a strong and healthy economy, and a secure energy future.

30th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals — May 4-7, New Orleans, La.
This symposium experienced a two-fold increase in attendance last year, and has modified the meeting format to include 12 dual technical sessions to accommodate over 80 presentations, as well as a Plenary Session and two large poster sessions. In addition, a Special Topic on International Bioenergy Centers, with presentations on the plans and expectations of newly emerging bioenergy centers around the world, will be the focus of a Tuesday evening session.

2nd Generation Biofuels Development Summit — May 13-16, Baltimore, Md.
Conference theme is "Accelerating Innovation to the Marketplace," addresses the US and World’s need to transition from fossil-based fuels to renewables and second generation biofuels.

Alternative Fuels & Vehicles National Conference + Expo — May 11-14, Las Vegas, Nev.
This fuel and vehicle neutral conference and exposition attracts 2,000 registered attendees and features a high-level conference and a well-organized Expo attended by public and private fleets as well as all of the major companies in the alternative fuels industry.

American Institute of Architects National Convention — May 15-17, Boston, Mass.
The focus will be, "We the People," and explore the power of architecture in society.

CSI Cleantech 2008 — June 1-5, Boston, Mass.
Event is a multi-disciplinary and multi-sector conference on global sustainability addressing advancements in traditional technologies, emerging technologies and clean business practices.

Energy Out West — June 2-6, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Regional weatherization conference with a strong technical approach with expanded tracks for program managers and administrative staff.

CONSTRUCT 2008 — June 3-6, Las Vegas, Nev.
Commercial, industrial, and institutional construction professionals and hundreds of exhibiting companies will attend CONSTRUCT 2008. Nearly 100 training sessions will be held on the latest construction technologies, industry solutions, trends and best practices.

DOE's EERE Hydrogen Program 2008 Merit Review — June 9-13, Arlington, Va.
Each year hydrogen and fuel cell projects funded by DOE's Hydrogen Program are reviewed for their merit during an Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting.

American Coalition for Ethanol 21st Ethanol Conference — Aug. 12-14, Omaha, Neb.
Well attended conference and trade show focusing on ethanol, highlighting the best in public policy, technology, and education.

31st World Energy Engineering Congress — Oct. 8-9, Washington, D.C.
National event in which you can fully assess the "big picture" – and see exactly how the economic and market forces, new technologies, regulatory developments and industry trends shape our energy and economic future.

Solar Power 2008 — Oct. 13-17, San Diego, Calif.
The largest Solar Power Conference in the United States about the U.S. solar industry and market opportunities. The conference is sponsored by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).

Wind Expo Latin American Wind Energy Association 2008 — Nov. 5-7, Guadalajara, Mexico
The first Latin American Wind Energy Association (LAWEA) Wind and Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition, WIND EXPO LAWEA GUADALAJARA 2008, organized by the Latin American Wind Energy Association.

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Editor: Jack Jenkins
Associate Editor: John Horst


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