DOE Guarantees $189 Million in Loans for Wind Power, Advanced Windows
DOE offered on March 5 two conditional loan guarantees for clean energy projects: a $117 million loan guarantee using American Recovery and Reinvestment funds for First Wind to finance the construction and start-up of an innovative 30-megawatt (MW) wind energy project in Kahuku, Hawaii, and a $72 million conditional loan guarantee to Sage Electrochromics, Inc. for an addition to its factory in Faribault, Minnesota, that manufactures electronically tintable windows. The awards mark the seventh and eighth conditional commitment issued by DOE's Loan Guarantee Program since March, 2009. See the DOE fact sheet on its loan programs.
The proposed Kahuku Wind project, located on the island of Oahu, involves installing a dozen 2.5-MW wind turbine generators along with a battery energy storage system for electricity load stability. Developed by Xtreme Power, the battery storage system will be able to provide up to 10 MW of power for at least an hour during periods of low wind speeds. The project is expected to employ 200 during its construction and will create 6 to 10 full-time jobs, and electricity generated by the project will be sold to the Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. The State of Hawaii, which now relies on imported oil for about 90% of its energy, has set a goal of meeting 70% of its energy needs with clean energy by 2030, and to meet that goal, the state teamed up with DOE to form the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. The Oahu wind farm is one of many actions needed to fulfill the energy goals of that initiative. See the press releases from DOE and First Wind, as well as the Web site for the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.
The Sage Electrochromics loan guarantee will help finance the construction and operation of a 250,000-square-foot, high-volume manufacturing facility to produce SageGlass, an energy-saving window technology for commercial use. Sage previously received a DOE Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit of $31 million for the new facility, which will be built next to Sage's existing production facility, enabling the company to expand production and lower costs. The new plant will employ 220 people during its construction. Sage makes "electrochromic" window glass, which changes from clear to tinted when a voltage is applied to it. The product allows natural light in while controlling unwanted solar heat, and can be used in building windows, skylights, and curtain walls. The technology consists of five ultra-thin layers of transparent metal oxides deposited onto sheets of glass. See the press releases from DOE and Sage, plus a description of the technology on the Sage Web site.
In a report issued in April 2008, DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) found that electrochromic windows can reduce peak cooling loads by 19%-26%, while reducing lighting energy use by 48%-67%. Test subjects also strongly preferred the electrochromic window for reduced glare and reduced reflections on computer monitors, despite the fact that they allowed in plenty of daylight. A preliminary report issued by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in December 2009 used building energy models to predict that electrochromic windows would produce energy savings of 9.1% and a 13.5% reduction in electricity demand in a home otherwise built to code. NREL has been working with electrochromic windows since the 1980s, and LBNL has been working with the technology for the past 20 years. NREL will also employ both electrochromic windows and thermochromic windows—windows that darken in response to the sun's heat—at its new Research Support Facility (RSF), a high-efficiency office building scheduled to open this summer. See the reports from LBNL (PDF 3.0 MB) and NREL (PDF 905 KB), plus the NREL feature stories on its work on electrochromic windows and their use in the RSF. Download Adobe Reader.