EREN Network News
August 2, 2000
News and Events
- Ford Commits to Improving Fuel Economy for SUVs
- First Commercial-Scale HTS Motor Operated Successfully
- DOE Awards $40 Million for Advanced Microturbines
- DOE and Energy Star Air Conditioners Help Cool the South
- Drive Your Car Less and Save Money on Auto Insurance
- Battelle Experts Forecast Energy Innovations for 2010
Energy Facts and Tips
- Kansas Wind Energy
- DOE Launches New Consumer-Oriented Web Site
About this Newsletter
- EIA: World Oil Supply May Peak in 2037
News and Events
Ford Commits to Improving Fuel Economy for SUVs
Ford Motor Company announced last week that it would
improve the fuel economy of its sport utility vehicle (SUV)
fleet by 25 percent by 2005. About 70 percent of the fuel
economy gains will be achieved with improvements to Ford's
existing fleet, including advanced drivetrain technologies,
weight reductions, and improved aerodynamics. See the
Ford press release.
The news followed Ford's April announcement that it would
produce a hybrid electric SUV by 2003. See Ford's Hybrid
Electric Vehicles Web site.
Ford credited the Partnership for a New Generation of
Vehicles (PNGV) for some of the technologies to be used in
its SUVs. The PNGV is a public and private partnership that
aims to develop an environmentally friendly car with up to
triple the fuel efficiency of today's midsize cars. See the
PNGV Web site.
First Commercial-Scale HTS Motor Operated Successfully
American Superconductor and Rockwell Automation
announced in July that they had successfully operated a
1000-horsepower motor that uses high-temperature
superconductor (HTS) wires. HTS wires have no resistance
at low temperatures, so HTS motors operate at a higher
energy efficiency and can be built up to three times smaller
than standard motors. American Superconductor expects to
test a 5,000-horsepower motor in early 2001. See the press
The companies are working under the auspices of DOE's
Superconducting Partnership Initiative. See the
"Superconductivity for Electrical Systems" page on EREN.
In related news, American Superconductor has deployed a
number of superconducting magnetic energy storage
(SMES) systems at electrical substations along a
transmission line owned by Wisconsin Public Service
Corporation. SMES systems store large amounts of power
and can discharge it quickly. The Wisconsin Public Service
installations are intended to improve grid reliability along the
transmission line. See the press release.
DOE Awards $40 Million for Advanced Microturbines
DOE announced last week the award of $40 million to six
industrial partners for research, development, and testing of
"next generation" microturbines. Microturbines generate
power from a variety of fuels, including natural gas, and can
also provide heating and cooling. They are one of many
technologies that can be located at or near an electrical
customer's site, providing support for the electrical grid
a concept known as distributed generation. See the DOE
In related news, the National Association of Regulatory
Utility Commissioners (NARUC) passed a resolution at their
recent summer meeting in support of electric industry rules
that encourage distributed generation. See the resolution on
the NARUC Web site.
DOE and Energy Star Air Conditioners Help Cool the South
DOE announced yesterday that it is working with several
corporations to make more than 49,000 Energy Star air
conditioners available to low-income residents of Texas,
Tennessee, and Louisiana. DOE has coordinated an
agreement with Sears, the Carrier Corporation, Whirlpool
Corporation, and Friedrich Air Conditioner Corporation to
make the air conditioners available to local weatherization
agencies at a reduced price. See the DOE press release.
For more information about DOE's role in weatherization,
see DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program Web site on EREN.
Drive Your Car Less and Save Money on Auto Insurance
If certain Texans take the bus to work today, they might pay
less for car insurance next month. Through a pilot program
offered in Texas by the Progressive Auto Insurance
company, drivers are being charged based on actual
mileage driven, time of day, and geographic location. With
support from the U.S. Department of Transportation's
Federal Highway Administration, the Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety, and Environmental Defense, Progressive is
using global positioning technology to track customer's
actual driving habits, which have a direct impact on their
monthly insurance bills. Preliminary evidence indicates that
the participants in the program are driving less.
In a deal signed last week, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) will work cooperatively with the
other partners to study the reduction in auto emissions, if
any, from participating in the innovative insurance plan. See
the EPA Web site.
Battelle Experts Forecast Energy Innovations for 2010
Energy experts from Battelle and the four DOE national
laboratories it manages took a stab last week at predicting
the top ten energy innovations for 2010. In the context of a
shifting energy industry, the experts saw big advances
coming for hybrid electric vehicles, smart energy
management systems, distributed power generation, fuel
cells, the conversion of gases to liquid fuels, advanced
batteries, farms that grow bioenergy crops, solar energy, and
the mining of methane hydrate crystals from the ocean
bottom. See the Batelle press release.
Kansas Wind Energy
This site captures the results of a two-year study on Kansas
wind energy potential, including estimated wind class,
capacity potential, and transmission line issues. It ranks the
top 25 potential sites and provides estimates of the total
electrical generating capacity of the top six. The site also
includes market research data on the potential for green
energy marketing, as well as a general overview of wind
energy and wind turbine performance.
For this and other recent additions to the EREN Web site,
DOE Launches New Consumer-Oriented Web Site
DOE launched the new energy.gov Web site on Monday,
helping to bring energy information to U.S. consumers in a
user-friendly way. The site presents DOE information that
relates to your health, house, transportation, school,
business, and community, as well as for the world and the
future. A special "kidzzone" is also available for children. The
site currently features EREN's own "Energy Savers: Tips for
Saving Energy & Money at Home" on its home page.
Energy Facts and Tips
EIA: World Oil Supply May Peak in 2037
DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) has
examined estimates of world oil supplies and projected the
dates of peak oil production, with results ranging from 2021
to 2112. The projections, released last week, are based on
current world oil resource estimates from the U.S. Geological
Survey (USGS). Using the "expected" (mean) USGS
estimate and the current rate of growth in oil production, the
EIA projects the peak production at 2037.
Although there was much focus in the 1970s on when oil
supplies would run out, oil industry experts in recent years
have focused more on when oil production will hit its peak.
Assuming energy demand continues to increase once oil
production starts decreasing, oil prices are likely to increase
dramatically, and other energy sources will be needed to fill
the gap. EIA notes that its peak production estimates occur
later than those generated by other analysts, some of whom
predicted that the production peak would occur as early as
2004. See the "Long Term World Oil Supply" presentation on
the EIA Web site.
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