EREN Network News
November 28, 2001
News and Events
- Washington to Host Largest Publicly-Owned U.S. Wind Plant
- MIT, ENECO Develop New Heat-to-Electricity Device
- "Nuna" Wins World Solar Challenge Car Race
- Gallup Poll Shows U.S. Support for Efficiency, Renewables
- EPA Launches Energy Star for Hospitals, Aims for Telecom
- DOE Marks 25th Anniversary for Weatherization Program
Energy Facts and Tips
- Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE)
About this Newsletter
- Save Energy With Your Holiday Lighting
- Quads and Exajoules: A Note About Energy Units
News and Events
Washington to Host Largest Publicly-Owned U.S. Wind Plant
A wind energy developer was given approval in mid-
November to begin construction of a 48-megawatt wind plant
in south-central Washington state. The Nine Canyon Wind
Project will be the largest U.S. wind project that is owned by
public utilities. Energy Northwest, a public power agency
made up of 16 public utilities in Washington, recently
completed a $70.675 million bond sale to finance the project.
Formerly the Washington Public Power Supply System,
Energy Northwest last issued such bonds 20 years ago to
finance the WNP-4 and -5 nuclear plants, which were later
cancelled. It currently operates one nuclear plant and one
RES Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of United Kingdom's
Renewable Energy Systems Limited, has been awarded the
contract to build the wind plant. The Nine Canyon Wind
Project will comprise 37 1.3-megawatt wind turbines from
Bonus, a Danish company. With an anticipated federal
rebate of 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, it will generate power
at a cost of 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Nine of the Energy
Northwest member utilities will buy the power from the
project. See the RES press release.
MIT, ENECO Develop New Heat-to-Electricity Device
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced
yesterday the development of a new highly efficient device
for converting heat into electricity. MIT claims the device is
two times more efficient than its closest commercial
competitor, opening up new possibilities for making use of
waste heat from vehicles, industrial processes, and power
The device is based on thermionic technology, in which heat
is used to drive electrons across a vacuum gap to another
conductor, thus creating an electric current. Such devices
typically require temperatures of about 2000 degrees
Fahrenheit. The new device, developed by an MIT professor
in collaboration with ENECO, Inc., replaces the vacuum gap
with a multi-layer semiconductor to create "thermal diodes"
that operate at temperatures as low as 390 degrees Fahrenheit.
The research was presented yesterday to the fall meeting of
the Materials Research Society. See the MIT press release.
"Nuna" Wins World Solar Challenge Car Race
"Nuna," a solar car from the Netherlands, broke all records
as it took first place last week in the World Solar Challenge,
an annual race of solar vehicles down the middle of the
Australian continent. Nuna finished on day four of the race, a
day ahead of its nearest competitors. The team took a total
of just 32 hours and 39 minutes to complete the nearly
3,000-kilometer (1,864-mile) race, for an average speed of
91.18 kilometers per hour (56.66 miles per hour).
The European Space Agency (ESA), one of the Nuna
sponsors, hailed the achievement as a triumph of space
technology. ESA supplied high-efficiency dual-junction and
triple-junction gallium-arsenide solar cells designed for
satellites for the car, which also carried power control
devices that were developed for satellites. The main body of
the car was built from Kevlar-reinforced carbon fiber. Nuna
even carried two strips of solar cells retrieved from the
Hubble Space Telescope. See the ESA press release.
The Alpha Centauri Team, which built Nuna, also has its
own Web site (in Dutch only).
Meanwhile, Australia's own Eastern Fleurieu School appears
to have won the World Solar Cycle Challenge. Their entry,
the Solar Flare, achieved an average speed of 39.2 kilometers
per hour (24.4 miles per hour). The cycle challenge features
solar-assisted bicycles. See all the race results on the World
Solar Challenge Web site.
Gallup Poll Shows U.S. Support for Efficiency, Renewables
A poll released yesterday by the Gallup Organization shows
a continuing support among the American public for energy
efficiency standards and renewable energy sources. In polls
conducted in May and again this month, a full 91 percent of
Americans polled by the organization favored the development
of "new sources of energy, such as solar, wind, and fuel cells."
The May poll also found that 85 percent of Americans
supported mandates that future cars be more energy
efficient. In the latest poll, the percentage dropped slightly, to
77 percent. Gallup attributed the drop to decreasing prices
Gallup says the maximum error in the poll is plus or minus
5 percentage points. See the Gallup press release.
EPA Launches Energy Star for Hospitals, Aims for Telecom
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched
a new Energy Star rating tool for hospitals in mid-November.
Three hospitals one each in New York, Illinois, and
California were the first to earn Energy Star labels. The
rating tool will allow hospitals to benchmark their energy
performance against others on a nationwide scale of 1 to 100.
The EPA also called on the telecommunications industry to
help increase energy efficiency and establish a national
benchmarking tool for central offices. Central offices house
the computers and other equipment needed to connect and
switch phone lines, and require more energy per square foot
than all other commercial buildings. EPA is currently working
with Verizon on a benchmarking tool. See the EPA press
releases, 11-15-01 and 11-16-01.
DOE Marks 25th Anniversary for Weatherization Program
DOE celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Weatherization
Assistance Program yesterday by commemorating the
weatherizing of the five-millionth home under the program.
Weatherization reduces the annual utility bills of low-income
families, saves energy and enhances national energy
security by reducing U.S. energy dependence.
Low-income families typically spend 14 percent of their
annual income on energy compared with 3.5 percent for
other households. Last winter alone, the savings for all
households weatherized since the program began in 1976
totaled more than $1 billion. For every dollar spent, the
Weatherization Assistance Program returns $2.10 in energy
savings. See the DOE press release.
Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE)
The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy
(DSIRE) has been updated and improved to make it more
informative and user friendly. The new database provides a
wealth of information on incentives, programs, proposed
policies, and existing legislation that promote renewable
energy. DSIRE, a project of the Interstate Renewable
Energy Council (IREC), is funded by DOE's Office of Power
Technologies and managed by the North Carolina Solar
For this and other recent additions to the EREN Web site.
Energy Facts and Tips
Save Energy With Your Holiday Lighting
With the passing of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, the
time to add holiday lighting has officially begun. The Alliance
to Save Energy (ASE) suggests that consumers can save
money and energy with their holiday lighting, without, as
ASE says, "dimming the holiday spirit." ASE recommends
leaving holiday lights on for at most six hours in the evening
and points out that new "icicle" lights have more lights per
foot than regular light strands. See the ASE press release.
The Energy Ideas Clearinghouse has an even more
interesting suggestion: Buy new holiday lights made with
light-emitting diodes (LEDs)! Now a popular energy-saving
item for upgrading traffic signals, colored LEDs are also
finding their way into holiday lights. One downside is that
they only come in red, green, and yellow (blue and white
bulbs are expected soon). The Clearinghouse finds that the
lights don't quite pay for themselves compared to mini-lights,
but other features such as extremely long life, durability, and
safety may make them worthwhile to some consumers.
Compared to the larger old-fashioned "C-7" bulbs, however,
either mini-lights or LED lights are significant energy savers.
The low energy use of the LED lights also yields a practical
advantage: You can connect 25 strings together without
overloading a typical electrical circuit.
The Clearinghouse has one further suggestion for those
looking for the ultimate in energy-efficient lighting: the Fiber-
Optic Tree! These technical wonders use a single light
source and fiber-optic "needles" to create a highly efficient
tree that glows from each branch of the tree. Some even
come with a built-in color wheel. See the "Holiday Lighting
Factsheet" on the Energy Ideas Clearinghouse Web site. (PDF 346 KB),
Download Acrobat Reader
Quads and Exajoules: A Note About Energy Units
As many faithful readers of EREN Network News were quick
to point out, we incorrectly defined "quadrillion" last week. A
quadrillion is, in fact, 10 raised to the 15th power one
thousand times greater than the definition given in last
week's edition. We apologize for our turkey-brained editor,
who obviously had more edible items on his mind.
(Note: the online version of last week's edition has been corrected.)
While we're on the subject of the "quad," the shorthand
name for a quadrillion Btu, it's worth mentioning that there's
a metric equivalent on the same scale the exajoule, or EJ
(that's 10 to the 18th Joules). It turns out that a quad equals
1.055 exajoules, so the two units are nearly equal. That
means that at least on this scale, us backwards Americans
can catch up with the rest of the world without too much
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