EREN Network News
January 5, 2000
News and Events
- Wind Energy Posts Its Best Year Ever
- First Commercial Wind Plant Starts Up in Pennsylvania
- U.S. Postal Service Purchases 500 Electric Vehicles
- McDonald's Pledges to Cut Restaurant Energy Use
- New Solar Technology Promises Threefold Efficiency Boost
- Study: U.S. Market for Photovoltaics Gaining Momentum
Energy Facts and Tips
- Energy Suppliers Sail Uneventfully Into Y2K
- Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Reductions Tripled Since 1994
About this Newsletter
News and Events
Wind Energy Posts Its Best Year Ever
Global wind energy had its best year ever in 1999, according
to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
Preliminary estimates of the new wind energy capacity
installed last year total 3,600 megawatts, bringing the world's
wind energy capacity to roughly 13,400 megawatts. Although
Germany added the most wind capacity 1,200 megawatts
the United States showed the second-highest growth, with
a surging U.S. market adding 732 megawatts. See the
AWEA press release.
First Commercial Wind Plant Starts Up in Pennsylvania
While most electric utilities and power providers were busy
preparing for Y2K, Connectiv Energy and Community
Energy, Inc. celebrated New Year's Eve by starting up the
first commercial wind plant in Pennsylvania. The two
65-kilowatt wind turbines are expected to generate 200,000
kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, and will be followed
with two more turbines in spring. Customers have already
been lined up to receive the wind power, including a
purchase of 20,000 kilowatt-hours per month by
Philadelphia's Sheraton Rittenhouse Square Hotel. See the
Community Energy press release on Pennsylvania's Clean
Air Council Web site.
U.S. Postal Service Purchases 500 Electric Vehicles
The U.S. Postal Service announced a record-breaking
purchase of 500 electric vehicles on December 22nd. The
Ford Motor Company will begin producing the vehicles in fall
at a rate of 45 per month. Of the 500 vehicles, 480 will go to
California, and the remainder will go to Maryland, Virginia,
and Washington, D.C. The purchase the largest electric
vehicle purchase in U.S. history will essentially double the
number of electric vehicles in use by the entire U.S. federal
government. See the U.S. Postal Service press release.
McDonald's Pledges to Cut Restaurant Energy Use
McDonald's Corporation announced December 21st that it
will cut energy use in its U.S. restaurants, with an initial
target of cutting energy by at least 10 percent compared to
the restaurants' 1999 energy use. McDonald's will work with
the Environmental Defense Fund and others to set firm goals
by Earth Day 2000 (April 22nd). There are 12,500 McDonald's
restaurants in the United States, serving more than 22 million
customers each day. See the McDonald's press release.
New Solar Technology Promises Threefold Efficiency Boost
DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announced
last month that it's developing a new solar energy system
that could potentially boost solar efficiency and economics
by a factor of three. The "full-spectrum solar energy system"
uses a roof-mounted, two-axis tracking system to
concentrate the sun's light while dividing it into its visible and
infrared components. The visible light is distributed through
optical fibers into the building, providing a natural light
source, while the infrared light is converted into electricity.
The system achieves high efficiencies because the visible
light is simply gathered and redistributed, rather than being
converted into electricity. See the ORNL press release.
Study: U.S. Market for Photovoltaics Gaining Momentum
Consumer-friendly products and the selective use of solar
power are allowing solar photovoltaic products to gain a
foothold in the U.S. energy market, according to a new
report by the Utility Photovoltaic Group (UPVG). The study
documents the experiences of TEAM-UP, a public-private
investment program to jump start the U.S. market for solar
electricity. The study found that photovoltaic products are
most readily adopted when they are sold as appliances, in
standardized packages, rather than as a stand-alone power
source. The marketing of renewable energy as "green
power" is also helping the U.S. photovoltaic market. UPVG,
a nonprofit association of more than 90 energy service
providers, receives DOE funding to manage the TEAM-UP
project. See the UPVG press release.
Clean Energy Basics
This Web site, hosted by DOE's National Renewable Energy
Laboratory (NREL), tackles the fundamentals of energy
efficiency and renewable energy technologies such as solar,
wind, hydropower, geothermal, bioenergy and ocean energy.
It highlights the positive impact these technologies have on
the environment, economy, and national security and
explains why they are important to individuals and
businesses. The site provides specific information about
clean energy technologies for homeowners, small business
owners, students, teachers, electricity providers, and
For this and other recent additions see the EREN Web site.
Energy Facts and Tips
Energy Suppliers Sail Uneventfully Into Y2K
Electric utilities throughout North America met the New Year
without any significant power outages. The North American
Electric Reliability Council (NERC) credited "unprecedented
industry-wide cooperation" in preparing for Y2K. See the
NERC press release on the Web site of the President's
Council on Year 2000 Conversion.
Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson noted that energy-sector
investments in Y2K preparation were essential to maintain
the flow of energy. DOE estimates that the U.S. electricity,
natural gas and oil industries spent $5 billion in Y2K
remediation and rapid response systems. See the DOE
Although the power stayed on through the Y2K transition, it's
still a good idea to be prepared for possible power outages
from any number of causes, and solar energy is an excellent
source of emergency power. For more information, see
"Surviving Disaster with Renewable Energy" on the National
Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Web site.
NREL recently followed its own advice and installed a solar
photovoltaic electric system as an emergency backup power
source. See the NREL press release.
Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Reductions Tripled Since 1994
Companies' voluntary projects to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions avoided the equivalent of 212 million metric tons
of carbon dioxide emissions in 1998, according to a report
released yesterday by DOE's Energy Information
Administration (EIA). The avoided emissions totaled about
3.2 percent of all U.S. emissions for the year, and were
nearly three times the amount reported in 1994. The 1,507
emission-reduction projects were achieved by a diverse
group of 187 U.S. companies. See the EIA press release,
including a link to the report, on the EIA Web site.
Editor's Note: Our December 22nd article on global
temperatures for 1999 mistakenly reported that it was the
second warmest year on record. Last year was the second
warmest on record in the United States, but on a global
scale, it was the fifth warmest. See the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration's press release.
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