EREN Network News
May 31, 2000
News and Events
- Thin-Film Solar Modules Achieve Efficiency, Power Records
- Toyota Buys Green Power for Four California Facilities
- South Dakota Electric Cooperative Offers Wind Power
- Zion National Park Dedicates Efficient Visitor Center
- Carrier, Silicon Energy Offer Remote Thermostat Control
Energy Facts and Tips
- What is the Fuel Cost of Driving Your Car?
- Home Energy Audit Techniques Featured on "Home Again"
About this Newsletter
News and Events
Thin-Film Solar Modules Achieve Efficiency, Power Records
BP Solarex announced last week that two of its new thin-film
solar modules have broken previous performance records.
The company's 0.5-square-meter module achieved a
10.8-percent conversion efficiency, meaning that more than
one-tenth of the sunlight hitting the module is converted into
electricity. The module's efficiency, which was verified at
DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is the
highest in the world for thin-film modules of its kind. The
company's 0.9-square-meter module achieved a
10.6-percent conversion efficiency and a power output of
91.5 watts the highest power output for any thin-film
module in the world. See the BP Solarex press release.
Thin-film photovoltaic cells aim to achieve low costs by
mounting thin films of the costly semiconductor material onto
an inexpensive backing. The trade-off is that they typically
operate at a lower efficiency than standard crystalline solar
cells. To learn more, see the "Polycrystalline Thin Film"
section of the DOE Photovoltaics Program Web site on EREN.
Toyota Buys Green Power for Four California Facilities
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. announced last week that it
has contracted with GreenMountain.com for the purchase of
green power for several of its California facilities. Toyota is
buying electricity from 100-percent renewable energy
sources for its U.S. headquarters in Torrance, its port facility
in Long Beach, its regional sales office in Irvine, and its parts
center in Ontario. Toyota estimates the annual usage under
the contract to be 40 million kilowatt-hours of renewable
energy, which is equal to the amount of power used annually
by 6,060 average California homes. See the announcement
under the "Environment & Technology" heading on the
Toyota press release Web page.
In related news, the Fifth National Green Power Marketing
Conference is coming to Denver, Colorado, in early August.
See the Green Power Network on EREN.
South Dakota Electric Cooperative Offers Wind Power
The East River Electric Power Cooperative, which serves
22 distribution systems in South Dakota and Western
Minnesota, is now offering its customers the option to buy
electricity from wind power. Businesses and homeowners
can buy 100-kilowatt-hour blocks of wind energy for a
premium of $3.50 each. The cooperative is accepting
signups now, with the intent to construct a one-megawatt
wind facility by Spring 2001. Two thousand customer
signups are needed to meet that commitment. Customers
will not be charged extra until the wind facility starts
producing power. See "Act Now!" on the EREPC Web site.
Zion National Park Dedicates Efficient Visitor Center
Officials at the Zion National Park in Utah dedicated a new
energy-efficient visitor center and bus system last week. The
visitor center will save roughly $14,000 per year through
such energy-saving measures as daylighting, natural
ventilation, a solar photovoltaic electric system, a solar
Trombe wall for heating, and a passive downdraft cooling
tower for cooling. DOE's National Renewable Energy
Laboratory (NREL) helped design the center. See the NREL
Carrier, Silicon Energy Offer Remote Thermostat Control
Carrier Corporation and Silicon Energy announced early this
month the availability of an Internet-based program for
utilities to automatically adjust customers' thermostats. Heat
waves struck the U.S. East and West Coasts recently,
causing electric utilities to plead for customers to reduce
their use of air conditioning. The new program would give
utilities direct Internet-based control of customers'
thermostats, allowing utilities to reduce their electrical load
when brownouts or rolling blackouts are imminent.
Customers would presumably pay a discounted rate as
compensation for their participation in the program. The
companies have not yet announced if any utilities are
participating in the program.
The companies recently completed a similar residential
program with Puget Sound Energy in the Seattle area, where
more than 100 households tested technology that let
homeowners monitor and adjust their home heating systems
while they were away. The program also allowed the utility to
activate setbacks on the thermostats. See the Silicon Energy
press release under the "Newsroom" section of their Web
BIOSEM (Biomass Socio-Economic Multiplier) is a
quantitative economic model capable of capturing the
income and employment effects arising from the deployment
of bioenergy plants in rural communities. This site features
the results of a European study using BIOSEM. It includes
background information, a comprehensive manual, case
study data, and final results.
Energy Facts and Tips
What is the Fuel Cost of Driving Your Car?
Are you wondering how this summer's high costs of gasoline
will affect your pocketbook? A Web site from DOE's Energy
Information Administration (EIA) will tell you the answer. The
site draws on the latest EIA fuel prices, mileage information
from the Fuel Economy Guide, and your estimate of the
miles you drive each year. It combines this information to
give you the cost of driving 1,000 miles and your annual fuel
cost for your car in your region of the United States.
The West Coast driver of a 3.4-liter Porsche 911, for
instance, will currently pay $95 per 1,000 miles for premium
gasoline. His neighbor, driving a Honda Insight, will pay only
$27 to go 1,000 miles using premium. But his other
neighbor, driving a 4.6-liter Ford Expedition, will pay a
whopping $129 per 1,000 miles using premium. See the
EIA's "Regional Gas Costs" Web site.
The Fuel Economy Guide, which the EIA Web site draws
upon, is prepared by DOE and the U.S. Environmental
Home Energy Audit Techniques Featured on "Home Again"
The concluding episode of the Habitat for Humanity "Blitz
Build" on Bob Vila's "Home Again" features DOE experts
demonstrating how energy audits are performed on homes.
Among the technologies demonstrated is a blower door,
which allows a quantitative measurement of the amount of
air leaking into a house when all its doors and windows are
A dedicated team of volunteers built the energy-efficient
home in only five days, thanks in part to advanced building
technologies such as a pre-cast foundation system and
structural insulated panels. For more details about the
"Home Again" show, plus lists of local TV schedules, see
Bob Vila's Web site.
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