EREN Network News
January 3, 2001
News and Events
- First Solar Gearing Up to 100-Megawatt Production Capacity
- Utilities Deliver Energy Efficiency Gifts for the Holidays
- California Approves $17.2 Million for Clean Transportation
- California Saves Energy in University and Prison Buildings
- Third Fuel-Cell System Installed in New York City Area
Energy Facts and Tips
- "Brightfields" Web Site on EREN Gets a New Look
About this Newsletter
- Natural Gas Prices Hit Record Highs, Stocks Remain Low
- EPA to Cut Pollution from Heavy-Duty Trucks and Buses
News and Events
First Solar Gearing Up to 100-Megawatt Production Capacity
Since the news broke last year that a new company called
First Solar was building the world's largest photovoltaic
manufacturing plant capable of producing enough solar
panels each year to generate 100 megawatts of power the
industry has awaited further news with both skepticism and
anticipation. To find out more, Kevin Eber, the editor of this
newsletter, recently visited the plant in Toledo, Ohio.
The heart of the First Solar plant, and the basis for the
100-megawatt capacity claim, is its high-technology coating
line. The fully automated equipment is capable of applying a
coating of cadmium telluride semiconductor to sheets of
glass up to 4 feet by 8 feet in size, a feat that has been
demonstrated there and is itself a record. In practice, four
sheets of 2-foot-by-4-foot glass are coated at one time, at a
pace of four sheets per minute. Each sheet is capable of
generating 50 watts, so if this line were operated
continuously, the plant could indeed produce 100 megawatts
of photovoltaic panels per year.
The plant is still in its startup phase, and the company is
tweaking operating parameters on its coating line while it
works to assure that its "finishing" line will be capable of
producing 25 megawatts of finished product per year. The
finishing process includes the laser scoring of the
semiconductor to create separate cells, the application of
conducting material, and the mounting of electrical junctions
to create a finished module.
First Solar plans to maintain the centralized production of
semiconductor-coated glass in Ohio, but to build other
finishing lines throughout the world, close to the end
markets. "Our target is to be able to build a plant anywhere
in the world in six to nine months," says Greg Nelson,
Executive Vice President. See the First Solar Web site.
Utilities Deliver Energy Efficiency Gifts for the Holidays
With energy costs and supply issues on the minds of many
U.S. consumers, this year's holiday season was marked by
energy efficiency giveaways from utility companies to their
customers. In Rhode Island, for example, the Narragansett
Electric Company mailed three energy-efficient compact
fluorescent light bulbs to each of its 15,000 low-income
customers. See the December 7th press release from
Narragansett Electric's parent company, National Grid USA, by selecting "News Releases".
In New York City, the New York Power Authority (NYPA)
gained approval to purchase 26,000 super-efficient
refrigerators to be installed in apartments operated by the
New York City Housing Authority. NYPA is in year six of an
eight-year program to replace 180,000 Housing Authority
refrigerators. The Power Authority finances the purchase
and installation of the refrigerators and recovers its costs by
sharing in the electric bill savings realized by the Housing
Authority. See the NYPA press release.
And in California, the Los Angeles Department of Water and
Power (DWP) is offering a free CD-ROM that will help its
residential customers find ways to reduce their electricity
use. The CD-ROMs are available until January 15th, while
supplies last. See the DWP press release.
Even if you're not a DWP customer, you can now help clean
up Los Angeles by buying "Green Power Certificates" from
DWP. At five dollars apiece, the certificates cover the
Incrementally higher cost of DWP's purchases of renewable
energy from resources such as wind, solar, geothermal or
biomass. See the DWP press release.
California Approves $17.2 Million for Clean Transportation
California's Mobile Source Air Pollution Review Committee
(MSRC) announced last week that it is funding $17.2 million
in clean-air transportation projects for southern California.
The funds will place 360 new alternative-fueled transit buses
and heavy duty vehicles on the road, while also training
mechanics and improving the refueling infrastructure. In
addition, the MSRC is funding programs to encourage
electric bikes for commuting to work, employer ridesharing
projects, and a "smart growth" development project. The
MSRC is funded by a portion of the California motor vehicle
registration fee. See the MSRC Web site.
California Saves Energy in University and Prison Buildings
The California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved
more than $6 million in funding to encourage energy
efficiency in the state's public university and prison buildings.
The university funds will focus on lighting improvements and
heating, ventilation, and air conditioning upgrades, while the
prison funds will go toward heat pumps and energy
management technologies. In a meeting in late December,
the CEC also approved $8 million in contracts to encourage
the use of reflective coating materials or other means to
reduce solar heat absorbed by roof surfaces and ducts.
Such "cool roofs" reduce building cooling needs while also
helping reduce the urban "heat island" effect. See the
December 20th press releases on the CEC Web site.
To learn more about urban heat islands, see the "Urban
Heat Island" page in the "Buildings" section of the EREN
Third Fuel-Cell System Installed in New York City Area
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) installed its third
fuel-cell system last month. The 200-kilowatt natural-gas-
powered fuel cell is providing supplemental and backup
power to the North Central Bronx Hospital. See the NYPA
"Brightfields" Web Site on EREN Gets a New Look
The "Brightfields" Web site was recently redesigned to give it
a crisp, clean look that is easy to navigate. DOE's
Brightfields concept is to use pollution-free solar energy and
high-tech solar manufacturing jobs for revitalizing
abandoned industrial sites, often referred to as "brownfields."
See the revitalized Brightfields Web site on EREN at:
For this and other recent additions to the EREN Web site,
Energy Facts and Tips
Natural Gas Prices Hit Record Highs, Stocks Remain Low
Natural gas prices are continuing to make the news, with
prices spiking as high as $45 per million Btu last week. The
January futures contracts prices closed out at yet another
record high settlement price of $9.978 per million Btu.
Meanwhile, DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA)
estimates that the amount of natural gas now in storage is
22.6 percent below the 5-year average for this point in the
heating season. See the "Natural Gas Update" on the EIA
The situation led President Clinton to release an additional
$300 million in funds through the federal Low Income Home
Energy Assistance Program. For businesses, the President
noted that special loans are available from the Small
Business Administration to help stretch out their energy
payments. See (or listen to) the President's December 30th
Radio Address on the White House Web site.
EPA to Cut Pollution from Heavy-Duty Trucks and Buses
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
announced in late December that it is enacting new
emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses that
will reduce emissions by 95 percent. The new standards will
be phased in from 2007 to 2010. To allow the vehicles to
meet these standards, EPA is also requiring that the sulfur
content of diesel fuel be cut by 97 percent by mid-2006. See
the press release on the EPA Web site.
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