The Energy Department on April 8 awarded more than $3 million to Connecticut-based FuelCell Energy for a project that could increase U.S. competitiveness in the fuel cell
market and give businesses more affordable, cleaner power options. This project will enhance the performance, increase the lifespan, and decrease the cost of stationary fuel cells being used for distributed generation and combined heat and power applications.
With support from the Energy Department, the private sector and the Department's national laboratories have significantly reduced costs and improved performance in fuel
cell and hydrogen technologies. Building on this progress, the project awarded to FuelCell Energy will focus on developing an innovative carbonate fuel cell electrolyte matrix, which promises enhanced cell output and the doubling of service life, which will
reduce the costs and enhance the market for efficient, clean fuel cell power. In addition, the project will look for more opportunities to reduce costs through greater production by incorporating manufacturing process improvements. See the Energy Department
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Energy Department on April 3 announced that they are honoring 127 organizations for their commitment to protecting
the environment through superior energy efficiency. Recipients of the 2014 Energy Star Partner of the Year Award include the Des Moines Public School District; KB Home; Meritage Homes Corporation; PepsiCo., Inc.; Sears Holdings Corporation; and Samsung.
The winners were selected from 16,000 Energy Star partners—including manufacturers, retailers, public schools, hospitals, real estate companies, and home builders—for
their dedication to protecting the environment through greater energy efficiency. Products, homes, and buildings that earn the Energy Star label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the EPA. See the
EPA news release and the
complete list of winners.
The Energy Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) on April 2 released information showing that U.S. consumers used 2.3 quadrillion thermal units more
energy in 2013 than the previous year. The nation's energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased to 5,390 million metric tons, the first annual increase since 2010, according to LLNL.
In the utility industry, wind energy continued to grow strongly, increasing 18% from 1.36 quadrillion BTUs, or quads, in 2012 to 1.6 quads in 2013, the equivalent of about
470.6 million kilowatt-hours. New wind farms continue to come on line with bigger, more efficient turbines—most new wind turbines can generate 2 to 2.5 megawatts of power. Similarly, the transportation sector is using more renewable energy, specifically biomass-based
ethanol. The majority of energy use in 2013 was used for electricity generation (38.2 quads), followed by transportation, industrial, residential, and commercial applications.
Energy use in the residential, commercial transportation, and industrial sectors all increased slightly. See the
LLNL news release.
The Energy Department on April 1 recognized Volvo Group North America for its leadership in energy efficiency at the New River Valley assembly plant near Roanoke, Virginia.
As a Better Buildings, Better Plants partner, the Volvo Group has already achieved 16% savings across its U.S. plants and continues working toward its goal of becoming 25% more energy efficient within 10 years.
Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley assembly plant is the company’s largest truck manufacturing plant in the world, covering more than 1.6 million square feet. In 2012, the
New River Valley facility was one of the first facilities in the United States to be certified under the Energy Department’s Superior Energy Performance program for facilities. The Superior Energy Performance program helps facilities establish energy baselines
and savings goals, and provides certifications when facilities achieve significant savings. New River Valley achieved a 26% improvement in energy efficiency in three years. As a partner in the Better Buildings Industrial Superior Energy Performance Accelerator,
the Volvo Group is now implementing the Superior Energy Performance program at facilities nationwide. See the
Energy Department news release.
The Energy Department's Better Buildings Alliance and the nonprofit Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) have extended the submission deadline for the new Green Lease
Leaders recognition program until April 22. The program is for firms and brokers successfully using green leasing to save energy in commercial buildings.
The Green Lease Leader recognition program recognizes firms and brokers that are successfully introducing green lease language into their new or existing leases to save
energy in buildings. The Green Lease Leader recognition strives to identify a new standard for sustainable relationships between tenants and landlords. Adopting changes to standard lease language may help reduce electricity and water consumption, improve tenant
comfort, and allow the landlord and tenant to better control operating expenses while minimizing waste. See the
IMT press release.