Panasonic Corp Installs Power Supply Container

powercontainer_Karimun0012Panasonic Corporation has developed an interesting offshoot of solar energy: Power Supply Container. The stand-alone photovoltaic power package was installed for the National Elementary School Karimunjawa 01 in Karimunjawa Island, Jepara District, Central Jawa Province, Indonesia. The Power Supply Container is equipped with 12 Panasonic “HIT(R)240” solar modules that the company said has high conversion efficiency and can generate approximately 3 kW of electricity. It can also provide stored power from 24 built-in lead-acid storage batteries (17.2 kWh as total).

Karimunjawa is an area where electricity is available at night using diesel generators. However, in the daytime these generators are stopped and no electricity can be used by the residents of the village. As no power for the village during the daytime interferes with administrative and commercial activities, improvement of the educational environment had been the top priority for the island. To solve this social issue, Koperasi Pundih Artah, which received Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security, Institute of Business and Economic Democracy Foundation (IBEKA) and Panasonic launched a project for improving the educational environment, by supplying and installing the Power Supply Container, under the cooperation of Jepara District and the Embassy of Japan in Indonesia.

To celebrate the introduction of “daytime electricity” a handover ceremony was held with Koperasi Pundih Artah and IBEKA. Now, during school hours, children can use LED lighting fixtures, ceiling fans and audiovisual educational materials using PCs and TVs. When there are no classes, the electricity is sold to nearby areas through a management association of the Power Supply Container topowercontainer_Karimun0017 contribute to activation of the regional community and improve the regional electricity infrastructure.

IBEKA is giving support for establishing management associations in Karimunjawa for independent operation of power supplies as well as provides training and supports for their operation, management and maintenance to achieve a sustainable power supply in Karimunjawa. Panasonic will continue to work with groups in Indonesia to bring more Power Supply Containers to areas without reliable electricity.

Himark BioGas to Build 3 Anaerobic Digestion Plants

Himark BioGas International is building three integrated anaerobic digestion (AD) and fertilizer plants for NEO Energy in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The AD plants will be designed and constructed by Himark and will recycle food waste to produce renewable electricity and organic-based fertilizer. As part of the agreement, Himark BioGas will act as a technology licensor and owner’s representative on behalf of NEO Energy LLC during the design, construction and operation stages of the plants.

GPHH_webreadyShane Chrapko, CEO of Himark BioGas, said, “The development of the anaerobic digestion plants will positively contribute to effective food waste recycling, profitable pathogen-free fertilizer production, energy self-sufficiency and a reduction in carbon emissions for the local communities. Each ton of food waste diverted from the landfill will reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by just over one ton of CO2 (Equivalent).”

The AD plants will be designed based on Himark BioGas’ patented “IMUS” technology that can produce renewable energy and pathogen-free fertilizer from food waste, source separated organic materials, cow manure, ethanol plant waste/thin stillage, slaughter house waste, food processing waste and agricultural waste (open pen feedlot, sand-laden dairies, etc.). The IMUS technology also can handle feedstock containing large amounts of sand, dirt, rocks, plastic and cellulose. Furthermore, Himark said with its turnkey, guaranteed-maximum capital cost designs, the company guarantees electricity, gas and fertilizer outputs with any kind of feedstock.

“NEO’s anaerobic digestion plants will recycle food waste generated by supermarkets, food processors, restaurants and other institutions and divert that waste away from landfills and incineration facilities,” said Robert Nicholson, president of NEO Energy. “Our plants produce a high-quality organic-based fertilizer while reducing greenhouse gases, preserving landfill capacity and producing renewable energy. Our first plants will also be available to those businesses that will need to comply with the 2014 commercial food waste disposal ban in Massachusetts and the recently enacted law in Rhode Island requiring that food residuals produced by large waste generators be recycled starting in 2016.

Analysis: Ethanol Most Competitive Motor Fuel

According to a new analysis released today, “The Economic Competitiveness of U.S. Ethanol,” U.S. produced ethanol has been the most economically competitive motor fuel in the world over the past four years. In addition, ethanol has played an important role in E-85 fill-up photo Joanna Schroederreducing consumer fuel costs. The analysis was conducted by ABF Economics and released by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

The analysis reviewed actual wholesale prices paid for ethanol, gasoline and alternative octane source in several U.S. and world markets between 2010-2013. Based on the data, the report concluded, “…U.S.-produced ethanol is an exceptionally competitive additive and fuel source…” and that “…U.S. ethanol has emerged as the lowest cost transportation fuel and octane source in the world over the past several years.”

Commenting on the analysis, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen said, “As proven by the recent boom in exports, American-made ethanol has evolved into the most cost competitive transportation fuel and octane source in the world. Through rapid technology adoption and innovation, U.S. producers have proudly earned the distinction of being the global leader and low-cost producer of clean-burning, renewable ethanol.”

Dinneen continued, “Despite the fact that ethanol offers greater consumer choice at a lower cost, entrenched petroleum companies continue to erect barriers that deny access to larger volumes of renewable fuels,” Dinneen continued. “In a truly free market, consumers would always choose a fuel that is produced domestically, is better for the environment and climate, and costs much less than gasoline. Unfortunately, free markets only exist in text books, underscoring the need for monopoly-breaking policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

The ABF Economics study found that even after accounting for transportation costs to the reference markets of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, “The ‘spread’ between ethanol and RBOB [gasoline] has averaged 30 to 40 cents per gallon over the past four years in these three key markets and the difference averaged more than 60 cents per gallon in 2012.

As a result of this cost differential, the analysis found “…ethanol blended with RBOB to produce reformulated gasoline at a 10 percent (E10) blend has reduced the cost of motor fuel to consumers.” The analysis found that ethanol’s impact on gas prices goes far beyond the wholesale price spread: “This does not include the additional downward impact ethanol has on gasoline prices as a result of extending supplies and reducing demand for crude oil.”

Economic Competitiveness of Ethanol reportAccording to the report, “…even with depreciation of the real, U.S. ethanol has been more cost competitive than Brazilian ethanol in key U.S. and world markets over the past several years.” This has particular relevance in the California market, according to the study, because that state’s fuel policies strongly compel fuel suppliers to import Brazilian ethanol in lieu of U.S. ethanol. “Use of Brazilian ethanol in place of U.S. ethanol theoretically raised the price of E10 for California consumers by 8 cents per gallon over the past four years,” the study found.

In closing, the study indicates that the competitiveness of U.S. ethanol will only improve in the future: “This competitive advantage is expected to increase further, as U.S. ethanol and feedstock producers adopt new technologies and crude oil prices continue to trend higher.”

Southern Nevada Water Authority Goes Solar

Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) is going solar with the help of SunEdison. SNWA has signed a power purchase agreement that locks in the majority of its energy costs at a fixed rate. The power will be provided by a 14 MW solar farm that SunEdison will develop, construct, own and operate located in Clark County, Nevada.

SNWA logo“This partnership with SunEdison expands our renewable energy portfolio to about 18 percent of our total power mix, and it provides additional stability to power costs, which ultimately benefits Southern Nevada’s municipal water users,” said John Entsminger, Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager. “When compared with traditional power production from fossil fuels, this solar facility will also save more than 100 million gallons of water and contribute to the sustainability of our community.”

According to SNWA, water is used in a number of ways in fossil fuel based electricity production, including generating steam to turn turbines, helping to keep power plants cool, and flushing away the fuel residue after fossil fuels are burned. By contrast, solar PV power plants do not use water in the production of electricity.

SunEdison-Logo“This project is a great example of how SunEdison can provide cost effective solar solutions to fit almost any location,” said Bob Powell, President, North America at SunEdison. “This ground-mounted facility will be built around a transmission and pipeline infrastructure that is quite complex – if we can do it here, we can do it anywhere.”

Construction of the facility will begin in early 2015 with commercial operation slated for later that year. Once operational, the solar power plant will be managed by the SunEdison Renewable Operation Center (ROC), which provides global 24/7 asset management, monitoring and reporting services. Data collected from the ROC is used to continuously improve the company’s products, project designs and service offerings.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFConsumers Energy is taking steps to diversify its energy supply and help the environment by selecting four Michigan farms to produce renewable energy with anaerobic digesters. Consumers Energy developed the anaerobic digester program along with Michigan State University and the state’s agricultural community. The farms will be offered the opportunity to generate electricity under long-term contracts that collectively provide 2.6 megawatts of electric capacity.
  • Juhl Energy, Inc. has announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District has awarded a $5.5 million contract to the team of Juhl Energy, Inc., Aegis Renewable Energy and Icenogle Construction Management Inc. for the development, construction and installation of a 1.5 – 2 megawatt wind turbine at the Tooele Army Depot near Salt Lake City, Utah. Juhl Energy will act in the capacity of the lead design and installation developer and subcontractor.
  • Milton Hydro, in partnership with Simple Energy, will deliver a social benchmarking program to customers in Milton, Ontario. Funded by the Ontario Power Authority’s Conservation Fund, the Milton Community Energy Challenge will demonstrate how community engagement can deliver energy conservation. Participants will earn rewards for reducing their household energy use and help schools earn prizes by joining school challenge teams. The program will support Milton Hydro in achieving Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) targets.
  • FuelCell Energy, Inc. has announced that its affiliate FuelCell Energy Solutions, GmbH (FCES) has received nearly [Eur]5 million in awards by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy to support a three year research and development project between FCES and joint venture partner Fraunhofer IKTS. The project targets further enhancements to the Direct FuelCell DCR technology by increasing power density and operating life of the fuel cells, leading to lower costs. The research is being performed in Germany by FCES at an existing facility in Ottobrunn and by Fraunhofer IKTS at a facility located in Dresden.

City of Columbus Dedicates CNG Station

Columbus, Ohio is now home to its second compressed natural gas (CNG) station. The station was made possible in part from funds provided by Clean Fuels Ohio (CFO). CFO provides technical support for transportation professionals, advocates for sustainable transportation energy policies and serves as a resource clearinghouse for fleets, policy makers and the public.

“We have been so fortunate to assist a wide range of businesses and individuals in exploring the advantages of alternative fuels,” said CFO Executive Director Sam Spofforth. “We help each organization to look at the variety of options available to them, and, when available, help them get the grant funding they need to get their projects off the ground.”

sidebar4One way CFO does this is through the organization’s Driving Force Fleet Advisors which provide assessment and planning, project development assistance, funding strategies, monitoring, follow-up and training to fleet managers. Fleets can also gain certification and public recognition for their efforts through CFO’s Ohio Green Fleets.

When the City of Columbus began its move to alternative fuel vehicles, there was little infrastructure in the state for compressed natural gas (CNG) explained Kelly Reagan, the city fleet administrator. “Mayor (Michael) Coleman made the commitment that we would build our own fueling infrastructure to support this alternative vehicle program.”

The city now operates two public access fast-fill CNG stations, with two additional stations planned, which will be open to the public. In addition, the city operates two electric vehicle charging stations that are also open to the public. “Clean Fuels Ohio gave us the opportunity to start down this road,” said Mayor Coleman. “They provided the resources we needed to start this program. They helped us get underway.”

In the case of Dillon Transport, partnering with a customer, Owens Corning, provided a pathway to a multi- state project. “Our work with Clean Fuels Ohio resulted in an attractive funding package that appealed to our customer,” explained Dillion Transport Vice President Charles Musgrove. The company has converted 17 Ohio trucks to natural gas, and fuels through an expanding network of public stations in Ohio. The company has a similar operation with the customer in Florida. In addition, Dillon Transport is increasing its use of CNG vehicles nationwide.

Ultimately, the cost of fossil fuels and a concern for sustainability have motivated many fleets to make the commitment to alternative fuel vehicles. “Companies began really needing to find answers, once it was obvious that fuel prices were going to remain high,” added Spofforth. “Companies want to do the right thing – but they don’t quite know how to put the pieces together, get funding and make the choices they need to make. We’ve been able to help many varied fleets look at those options and make the decisions that lead them to sustainability.”

In 2011 and 2013, the City of Columbus was named the #1 Government Green Fleet in North America, and continues to be a role model for fleets considering transitioning to alternative fuels.

Renewable Energy Provides 56% of Electrical Generation

According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower provided 55.7% (1,965 MW of the 3,529 MW total installed) of new installed U.S. electrical generating capacity during the first half of 2014.

  • Solar provided 32.1% (1,131 MW)
  • Wind provided 19.8% (699 MW)
  • Biomass provided 2.5% (87 MW)
  • Geothermal provided 0.9% (32 MW)
  • Hydropower provided 0.5% (16 MW)
  • Most of the balance (1,555 MW – 44.1%) of the new generating capacity was provided by natural gas while no new coal or nuclear power capacity was reported

solar installationAccording to the SUN DAY Campaign, the dominant role being played by renewables in providing new electrical generating capacity in 2014 is continuing a trend now several years in the making. Over the past 30 months (i.e., since January 1, 2012), renewable energy sources have accounted for almost half (48.0%) or 22,774 MW of the 47,446 MW of new electrical generating capacity.

If calendar year 2011 is also factored in, then renewables have accounted for approximately 45% of all new electrical generating capacity over the past 3 1/2 years. In fact, since January 1, 2011 renewables have provided more new electrical generating capacity than natural gas (31,345 MW vs. 29,176 MW) and nearly four times that from coal (8,235 MW)

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.28% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: water – 8.57%, wind – 5.26%, biomass – 1.37%, solar – 0.75%, and geothermal steam – 0.33%. This is up from 14.76% two years earlier (i.e., June 30, 2012) and is now more than nuclear (9.24%) and oil (4.03%) combined.

“A new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting that renewable energy sources will account for only 24% of new capacity additions between now and 2040,” Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, noted. “However, the latest FERC data coupled with that published during the past several years indicate that EIA’s numbers are once again low-balling the likely share – and probably dominant share – of renewables in the nation’s future energy mix.”

Bringing Solar Power to Rural India

The Sierra Club and the Center for American Progress (CAP) have launched a new video series, “Harnessing the Sun to Keep the Lights on in India”. The series documents the health, economic, and environmental benefits to local communities living in Uttar Pradesh, India, a rural, low-income, off-the-electric-grid region that is rapidly becoming a hotbed of solar activity. The film provides a first-hand look at the companies seeking to make good on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to provide solar for all citizens by 2019.

“Hundreds of millions of low-income, rural Indians have been suffering from energy poverty for decades. With little access to reliable energy, they’re depending on dirty fossil fuels like kerosene to light their homes and that has serious health effects. Solar power is the key to ending energy poverty,” said Justin Guay, associate director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate Program.

This past spring, Guay traveled to Uttar Pradesh with Vrinda Manglik, Associate Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club, and Andrew Satter, Director of Video at the Center for American Progress. They spent a week visiting innovative companies like Simpa Networks and OMC Power that deliver everything from LED lightbulbs to mobile phone charging with the help of innovative pay-as-you-go solutions. They also visited villages and interviewed people living beyond the grid and benefiting from companies expanding clean energy access.

According to Sierra Club, around the world, 1.4 billion people lack modern, reliable electricity; they are living in energy poverty. In India alone, approximately 400 million Indians are living in energy poverty. Those who do have power suffer from chronic unreliability issues as well as pollution from coal-fired power plants that kill more than 100,000 people every year. But innovative companies and entrepreneurs are creating a booming market for distributed energy beyond the grid in India and providing a clean and affordable energy source that is improving the health and quality of life for many people.

“Energy poverty is a hurdle for economic mobility and improving the livelihoods of billions of people around the world. Energy is necessary for social, economic, and environmental progress. Electricity access allows for lighting into the evening hours, which can be used for studying or running a business. It is required to keep schools open and health centers running,” added Rebecca Lefton, Senior Policy Analyst for CAP.

Leading up to the world premiere of the video, the Sierra Club and CAP released a series of behind-the-scenes video clips of their week in India, filmed using Google Glass. The technology was used for translations from Hindi to English, flight information, navigation, and the filming of parts of the video series.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFMeredian Inc., the world’s largest producer of PHA has announced that John A. Dowdy, III has joined their team as the newly appointed Chief Financial Officer. This appointment comes in the wake of Meredian Inc. and its sister company DaniMer Scientific merging together under its wholly owned subsidiary Meredian Holdings Group Inc.
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that United States Department of Agriculture is investing $263.3 million to help modernize and improve the reliability of rural electric systems in eight states: California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina and Virgina.
  • Energy storage, driven largely by electronics and plug-in vehicles, will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8% to $50 billion in 2020, with dramatic shifts coming from the transportation industry, according to Lux Research. Transportation applications will outpace electronics growth – attaining an 11% CAGR to become a $21 billion market by the end of the decade. Its faster growth will close the gap with electronics, which still will remain the single largest market valued at $27 billion. The market for stationary applications will be worth $2.8 billion, as it awaits cost breakthroughs.
  • Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc., a high-growth specialty chemicals company that creates novel specialty chemicals from natural oils, has announced a new collaboration with Genting Plantations Berhad through Genting Integrated Biorefinery Sdn Bhd (GIB), to be located in the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia. The 25:75 collaboration between Elevance and Genting Plantations Berhad will build a 240,000 MT metathesis biorefinery based on Elevance’s proprietary metathesis technology, and will produce renewable, high-performance olefins and specialty chemicals that can be used in multiple end-product applications, including lubricants, surfactants and detergents.

Nebraska Corn Farmers, Aventine In Sugar Fight

According to a Reuters article, the corn-based ethanol industry in Nebraska is fighting an ethanol sugar-based ethanol plant over its feedstock. The Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings plant re-opened its Aurora, Nebraska ethanol plant back in May 2014. However, the plant, located in corn country, is reportedly using sugar from sugar beets to produce ethanol.

The United States Agricultural Department (USDA) has as program where ethanol plants can purchase cheap beet sugar for use in producing biofuels or biochemicals and Aventine is producing ethanol from this sugar source. Aventine’ use of sugar is the first large-scale production of sugar alcohol in Nebraska since the Prohibition.

sugar beetHowever, local corn farmers have sued Aventine claiming their use of sugar violates an agreement to use their grain exclusively as a feedstock for ethanol production. Aventine denies any wrongdoing, saying it has abided by its contract.

George Hohwieler, president and chief executive of the Aurora Cooperative Elevator Co., was quoted in the article as saying, “Hamilton County, Nebraska, by any measure is one of the most productive corn-producing counties in the world,” he said. “The message being sent to the marketplace is that they’re making ethanol out of sugar.”

Aventine chief executive Mark Beemer was quoted as saying the farmers’ coop was being short sighted in suing the company. “We’ve been very blunt. This is just a very short-term pathway to get the plant open and then convert back to corn ethanol,” he said.

There has been a long-running dispute between Aventine and the Nebraska farmers’ coop. In February, when Aventine received delivery via rail of the sugar, the coop filed suit claiming they were not allowed to use the rail line to receive any feedstock other than corn. The coop also filed suit in 2012 when the plant did not produce its nameplate capacity of 110 million gallons of ethanol per year, costing them $1.7 million.

As the lawsuits and harsh words continue to fly, Aventine argues that using sugar allowed them to re-open the plant, that had been idled for nearly 5 years and bringing jobs back to the area. At this point, Aventine says they have begun bidding to buy corn as an ethanol feedstock but because of the lawsuits, they are not negotiating to buy corn from the Aurora Cooperating Elevator.

As the lawsuits continue, it can only be said in a fight between corn and sugar, no one wins.

Twin Cedars FFA Raises Money for Ethanol Infrastructure

Josh Lopez is a sophomore at Twin Cedars high school (Bussey, Iowa) and he is already an ethanol advocate. During the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen, Josh who is a member of FFA, along with several other FFA members from his high school, walked around Iowa Speedway talking to NASCAR fans about the benefits of ethanol. But they didn’t stop there.

Josh LopezJosh and his team also raised money for ethanol infrastructure and Syngenta matched the funds raised – dollar-for-dollar- and donated the money plus the $1 per acre funds to Growth Energy. The $1 per acre program is one that donates $1 dollar per acre of Engoen corn grown to the renewable fuels industry. In total, more than $108K was donated this year.

I asked Josh why he came out to the races to talk about ethanol. “I love racing and our school has a strong agricultural program,” so he said it was a good fit. I also asked him what he thought about ethanol and he said his dad works for Syngenta so he grew up knowing that ethanol is better for the environment, a lot cheaper and reduces America’s need for foreign oil.

Josh said the most common question he is asked is what is ethanol? He noted that after talking with most consumers, and mentioning the NASCAR drivers are racing on the same E15 fuel that consumers can use, most of them become excited about ethanol.

Listen to my interview with Josh Lopez here: Josh Lopez interview

Visit the 2014 American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen photo album.


BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFFuel cost savings of $5,000 per day. Cheaper and simpler oil changes. Emissions reduced by millions of pounds. That’s the message of a new case study analyzing Student Transportation Inc.’s 435 school buses operating with propane autogas during a one-year period. These buses service Nebraska’s Millard and Omaha public school district. They also support Omaha’s “Green Schools Initiative,” which encourages environmental responsibility, consumption reduction and green living.
  • CRS is hosting a free webinar that explains the Green-e Energy certification program and how it works within the larger voluntary renewable energy market in North America. This webinar, taking place Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 10:00 am PT, will cover the basics of how renewable energy is generated, tracked, and sold; how Green-e Energy protects consumers by ensuring clear title to renewable energy purchases that are as advertised; and how consumers, businesses, and renewable energy sellers can become involved with Green-e Energy.
  • Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc., a leader in the development and construction of wind, solar, transmission, and energy storage projects in the Americas, is pleased to announce it has reached financial close of a $222 million construction loan for the 150 MW Border Winds Project in Rolette County, North Dakota and a $286 million construction loan for the 200 MW Pleasant Valley Wind Project in Mower and Dodge Counties, Minnesota.
  • Soltage-Greenwood, a joint venture between the premier North American solar power provider Soltage, LLC, and Greenwood Energy, the North and Latin American clean energy division of the Libra Group, have announced an equity financing of $70 million led by John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.) for the construction and operation of seven solar photovoltaic (PV) power stations in Massachusetts and North Carolina totaling 32 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity.

DOE Allocates $31M to Establish FORGE

The Department of Energy (DOE) has allocated up to $31 million to establish a new program: Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE). The field lab will be dedicated to cutting-edge research on enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).

EGS are engineered reservoirs, created beneath the surface of the Earth, where there is hot rock but limited pathways through which fluid can flow. During EGS development, underground fluid pathways are safely created DOE FORGE programand their size and connectivity increased. These enhanced pathways allow fluid to circulate throughout the hot rock and carry heat to the surface to generate electricity. In the long term, DOE believes EGS may enable domestic access to a geographically diverse baseload, and carbon-free energy resource on the order of 100 gigawatts, or enough to power about 100 million homes.

“The FORGE initiative is a first-of-its-kind effort to accelerate development of this innovative geothermal technology that could help power our low carbon future,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Dave Danielson. “This field observatory will facilitate the development of rigorous and reproducible approaches that could drive down the cost of geothermal energy and further diversify our nation’s energy portfolio.”

According to DOE, the research and development (R&D) at FORGE will focus on techniques to effectively stimulate large fracture networks in various rock types, technologies for imaging and monitoring the evolution of fluid pathways, and long-term reservoir sustainability and management techniques. In addition, a robust open data policy will make FORGE a leading resource for the broader scientific and engineering community studying the Earth’s subsurface. These significant advances will reduce industry risk and ultimately facilitate deployment of EGS nationwide.

The FORGE initiative is comprised of three phases. The first two phases focus on selecting both a site and an operations team, as well as preparing and fully characterizing the site. In Phase 1, $2 million will be available over one year for selected teams to perform analysis on the suitability of their proposed site and to develop plans for Phase 2. Subject to the availability of appropriations, up to $29 million in funding is planned for Phase 2, during which teams will work to fully instrument, characterize, and permit candidate sites.

Subject to the availability of appropriations, Phase 3 will fund full implementation of FORGE at a single site, managed by a single operations team. This phase will be guided by a collaborative research strategy and executed via annual R&D solicitations designed to improve, optimize, and drive down the costs of deploying EGS. In this phase, partners from industry, academia, and the national laboratories will have ongoing opportunities to conduct new and innovative R&D at the site in critical research areas such as reservoir characterization, reservoir creation, and reservoir sustainability.

DNV GL Identify Solar Module Quality Leaders

DNV GL has released its new PV Module Reliability Scorecard 2014, that found that nearly 2/3 of the cumulative 130 gigawatts of installed solar photovoltaic modules in the world were produced in the last three years. This period marked record module price reductions as well as module manufacturers’ aggressive cost reductions. This cost reduction, finds the Scorecard, has led to questions around long-term PV performance and module quality while at the same time, projects are being built in more extreme and diverse environmental condition then ever before.

To address these concerns, the Scorecard identifies module manufacturers’ reliability performance from a standardized accelerated life testing program. The Scorecard supports PV project developers, EPCs, investors and asset managers in their evaluation of leading module manufacturers and is a critical tool for quality-backed procurement strategies.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 8.20.58 AMGTM Research has compiled data from DNV GL’s highly accelerated life testing (HALT) on major global PV module manufacturers. Participating manufacturers were subject to rigorous tests designed to mimic real world environmental stresses and identify potential long-term quality issues and failure modes. The Scorecard goes beyond standard module qualification and certification tests and allows the industry to identify the spectrum of performance differences across the module vendor landscape.

In the Scorecard, GTM Research found that module vendors performed relatively well across all metrics, with a few exceptions on specific tests. However, “module reliability is not necessarily a consistent quality. Of all vendors analyzed, only one company consistently ranked within the Performance Leaders group for all test regimens,” wrote report author and solar analyst Jade Jones.

“While all modules met the regulatory UL requirements, long term real world performance is not simply pass/fail. More robust module designs were clearly identified,” said Jenya Meydbray, Head of Module & Inverter testing at DNV GL and former PVEL CEO.

Tests in the Scorecard program include extended thermal cycling, damp heat, humidity-freeze, dynamic mechanical load, and potential induced degradation for positively and negatively biased modules.

DOE & USDA Announce Bioenergy Projects

Ten projects will receive funding aimed at accelerating genetic breeding programs to improve plant feedstocks for biofuel production as well as biopower and bio-based power. The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $12.6 million in research grants designed for harnessing nonfood plant biomass to replace US DOE Energy logofossil fuels and chemicals. The agencies note that feedstock crops tend to require less intensive production practices and can grow on poorer quality land than food crops, making this a critical element in a strategy of sustainable biofuels production that avoids competition with crops grown for food.

“Biofuels and bio-based products offer the potential of homegrown American resources that can reduce our dependence on imported oil and also cut carbon emissions,” said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “This advanced research is helping us to lay the groundwork for biomass as an important part of the low-carbon future.”

The winning projects are located in California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Texas, and Virginia. DOE’s Office of Science will provide $10.6 million in funding for eight projects, while USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will award $2 million to fund two projects. Initial funding will support research projects for up to three years.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack added, “Innovative research is a critical link to stimulating rural economies and creating jobs across America. These awards are part of the Obama Administration’s “all of the above” energy policy. These projects will not only support our efforts to provide a sustainable and domestic energy source for the nation, but also improve the lives of rural residents.”

New projects to be funded this year will build upon gains in genetic and genomic resources for bioenergy and biofuels. The projects will accelerate the breeding of optimized dedicated bioenergy feedstocks through a better understanding of complex interactions between bioenergy feedstock plants and their environment, allowing the development of new regionally-adapted bioenergy feedstock cultivars with maximal biomass or seed oil yield and traits leading to more sustainable production systems, such as minimal water usage and nutrient input requirements.