EREN Network News
August 16, 2000
News and Events
- Largest PV Manufacturing Facility in the World Now Open
- DNC Powered by Green Power and Alternative Fuels
- GM, ExxonMobil Develop Gasoline Processor for Fuel Cells
- DOE Funds 21 Companies to Advance Geothermal Energy
- DOE Provides $4.4 Million for 21st Century Truck Initiative
- Maryland, West Virginia Tie in FutureTruck Competition
- "Village Power 2000" Brings Lights to Uganda, Tanzania
Energy Facts and Tips
- United BioEnergy Commercialization Association
About this Newsletter
- Report: More Americans Are Using Air Conditioning
- In English or Spanish, Cut Your Bills With Energy Savers
News and Events
Largest PV Manufacturing Facility in the World Now Open
First Solar, LLC, quietly began production at its new 75,000-
square-foot photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing facility in June.
The fully automated facility in Perrysburg, Ohio, is capable of
producing 100 megawatts of solar electric modules per year,
making it the largest PV manufacturing plant in the world. At
present, the company is gradually gearing up to its full
To achieve its high output, First Solar is using a patented
Vapor Transport Deposition process to apply thin films of
cadmium telluride, a semiconductor, onto a glass substrate.
A laminate layer is then added to protect the films. The
company claims the process can produce 70 meters
(roughly 230 feet) of product per minute.
First Solar is currently producing a 50-watt PV module,
which in July received the Underwriter's Laboratory
recognition for electrical and fire safety. The company claims
that it will provide a full-service solution for solar electrical
systems by engineering and assembling modules into large
arrays, adding ancillary electrical equipment, and installing
the systems. See the First Solar Web site.
For more information on thin-film technology, see the DOE
Photovoltaics Web site on EREN.
DNC Powered by Green Power and Alternative Fuels
The Democratic National Convention (DNC), now underway
in Los Angeles, is striving to be one of the greenest
conventions ever. The DNC Committee has arranged for the
convention to be powered entirely by green power
electricity from renewable energy sources provided by the
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. A solar
electric system has also been installed on the roof of the
Convention Center to provide about 15 percent of the
center's electrical needs. In addition, the DNC Committee
has included a significant number of alternative fuel vehicles
in its fleet. See the DNC press release.
GM, ExxonMobil Develop Gasoline Processor for Fuel Cells
General Motors Corporation (GM) and ExxonMobil
Corporation jointly announced last week that they have
developed an efficient processor for converting gasoline into
hydrogen for use in fuel cells. The companies claimed that
the processor converts gasoline to hydrogen with 80 percent
efficiency, but did not state how that efficiency was defined.
GM plans to build an integrated system that uses the
processor to fuel a 25-kilowatt fuel cell stack, and intends to
demonstrate the system in a GM laboratory by year end. GM
also plans a vehicle demonstration of the system by
February 2002. See the press release on the GM Web site.
The GM and ExxonMobil press release follows a July
announcement by Nuvera Fuel Cells that it will ship "the
world's first complete gasoline-powered fuel processing
systems" to four major automotive companies for testing.
The press release doesn't state a specific shipping date. The
Nuvera system incorporates a sulfur removal technique that
allows it to be fueled with sulfur-bearing gasoline. Fuel cell
systems are intolerant of sulfur, which is present in today's
gasoline formulations. See the Press Release section of the
Nuvera Web site.
DOE Funds 21 Companies to Advance Geothermal Energy
DOE announced last week that it is awarding $3.5 million in
first-year funds to 21 companies in support of its GeoPowering
the West Initiative. Among other goals, the initiative aims to
meet 10 percent of the electrical needs in the western United
States with geothermal energy by 2020. Of the 21 companies,
five will focus their efforts on developing small-scale
geothermal power plants, nine will work on increasing power
production at existing power plants and extending the plants'
operating life, and seven will advance the exploration and
development of geothermal resources. See the DOE press
DOE Provides $4.4 Million for 21st Century Truck Initiative
DOE announced last week that it is awarding $4.4 million
over four years for the development of advanced truck
technologies. As part of DOE's 21st Century Truck Initiative,
three teams will develop low-friction heavy-duty axles,
lightweight ceramic composite brakes, and an integrated
engine flywheel and electric motor that will serve as a starter
and will generate electricity to supply the truck's electrical
loads. See the DOE press release.
Maryland, West Virginia Tie in FutureTruck Competition
The University of Maryland and West Virginia University
were declared joint winners of this summer's FutureTruck
competition last week. The competition pits university teams
against one another in a challenge to minimize a Chevrolet
Suburban's greenhouse gas emissions while maximizing its
fuel economy, without sacrificing performance. The winners
tied due to the Maryland team's 12 percent increase in fuel
economy and the West Virginia team's 23 percent decrease
in greenhouse gas emissions. GM had originally declared
West Virginia the winner at the end of the competition in
June, before the results were official. See the press release
on the GM Web site.
"Village Power 2000" Brings Lights to Uganda, Tanzania
Seventeen U.S. students traveled in late July to Uganda and
Tanzania to install solar panels in schools and a clinic that
had no electricity. The trip was part of the DOE's Village
Power 2000 Millennium Project, working to bring clean and
affordable energy to millions of rural people throughout the
world who have no access to electric power. Traveling with
the students were members of the Hathaway Foundation
and the Discovery Channel Global Education Fund; the
Discovery Channel also filmed the trip. DOE presented
awards to the students and their sponsors last week. See
the DOE press release.
United BioEnergy Commercialization Association
This trade association's mission is to build market
understanding and credibility of biomass power and to help
define appropriate technology commercialization paths. The
Web site includes an overview of biomass power, including
benefits of the technology, white papers, brochures, and a
glossary. The site also features a summary of biomass-
For this and other recent additions to the EREN Web site,
Energy Facts and Tips
Report: More Americans Are Using Air Conditioning
As continued heat waves are causing U.S. electric utilities to
cope with high electrical demands, it should come as no
surprise to utility executives that more Americans now have
air conditioning, and they are using it more. A report issued
early this month by the DOE's Energy Information
Administration (EIA) finds that 47 percent of U.S. households
had central air conditioning in 1997, up from only 23 percent
in 1978. Over the same period, the percentage of
households without any form of air conditioning dropped
from 44 percent to 28 percent. Of the homes with central air
conditioning in 1997, more than half the residents say they
use it all summer long. See the EIA report.
In English or Spanish, Cut Your Bills With Energy Savers
Looking to save energy at home? DOE's popular Energy
Savers booklet is available as a Web site, as an Adobe
Acrobat PDF file, or in hardcopy. A new Spanish edition is
also available as either a PDF file or in hardcopy. For
information on obtaining any of these, see the Energy
Savers page on EREN.
Electric utilities or other organizations can order bulk copies
of Energy Savers in either English or Spanish for distribution
to their customers or members. An Energy Savers Quick
Tips bill stuffer is also available. See the Energy Savers
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