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The EERE Blog includes updates to current Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) projects, interviews with energy experts, and success stories about EERE’s technology offices and national laboratories. Subscribe to the blog email list.

April 25, 2016
The Opekiska Lock and Dam, a non-powered dam on the Monongahela River. Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Energy Department Opens New Round of Funding to Reward New Hydropower

Harnessing the power of water to generate electricity means finding new locations that can be upgraded with hydropower technology. The Energy Department is opening applications for a new round of funding to identify facilities that might be capable of producing electricity with the right technology. The sum of $3.5 million in funding will be awarded as incentive payments based on kilowatt hours of electricity generated.

April 22, 2016
Gecko Robotics' proprietary magnetic adhesion technology works much like the sticky foot of a gecko, allowing its robots to crawl up walls to inspect for damage in power plants. This technology helps ensure safety and increase efficiency by deploying robots rather than humans.
Rice Business Plan Competition Crowns Student Startup Energy Winners

Forty-two companies with promising energy and other cutting-edge technologies collected more than $1.69 million at the 2016 Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston, Texas, capping an annual event billed as the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup contest. For the second straight year, the top place in energy at the Rice competition went to a startup from Carnegie Mellon University.

April 22, 2016
EERE and Earth Day--A Partnership in Pictures

Today, Earth Day celebrates its 46th birthday. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s mission is directly connected to the goals of Earth Day, supporting scientific research to find smarter ways to generate, conserve, and consume energy through renewable power sources, sustainable transportation, and energy-efficient homes, businesses and industries. Let's take a look at what our offices have done (and are doing now) to celebrate Earth Day every day.

April 20, 2016
Palo Duro Homes built this 2,215 square-foot home in Sante Fe, New Mexico to the performance criteria of the U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program. The project won a 2015 DOE Housing Innovation Award. 
Photo courtesy Palo Duro Homes
Hear What Homeowners Are Saying About Their Zero Energy Ready Homes

A Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home is a high performance home so energy efficient that a renewable energy system can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption. Zero energy ready homeowners from across the U.S. discuss what they love about their homes.

April 20, 2016
Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Dr. Dave Danielson addresses national industry leaders and stakeholders in his remarks at the 2015 AEMC Summit.
Clean Energy Manufacturing Leaders to Convene at Northeast Regional Summit in New York

Our latest summit, the American Energy & Manufacturing Competitiveness (AEMC) Northeast Regional Summit: Innovating for a Clean Energy Future, will be held on May 12 at the City College of New York. The AEMC partnership – established in 2012 – is a joint effort between the Department of Energy and the Council on Competitiveness. Registration is now open to take part in this fourth annual event.

April 20, 2016
EERE Blog
EERE Success Story— Hydropower Fellowship Program Leading Students to Industry Careers

The Hydro Research Foundation’s (HRF) Hydro Fellowship Program allowed outstanding up-and-coming student fellows to conduct hydropower-related research—all made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

April 18, 2016
KWh Analytics employees discuss their solar portfolio management platform, HelioStats.
EERE Success Story—Data Access and Analytics Improve Solar Valuation

As the solar energy industry expands, banks and investors increasingly require higher quality data and tools to quantify the risks associated with solar projects and integrating more solar assets into their portfolios. Without data standards, transactions for solar projects take longer than necessary and can require higher than normal interest rates. Solar projects can even be valued below their true worth due to the perceived risks around system performance and future profitability.

April 18, 2016
NovoMoto's MicroPlant technology aims to provide renewable, sustainable electricity to communities in sub-Saharan Africa. | Photo courtesy of NovoMoto
Solar Smart Grid Startup NovoMoto Wins Cleantech University Prize at Clean Energy Trust Challenge

NovoMoto, a student-led startup from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, took home $50,000 after winning the Energy Department's Cleantech University Prize regional competition at the annual Clean Energy Trust Challenge in Chicago. NovoMoto's MicroPlant technology aims to provide renewable, sustainable electricity to communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

April 15, 2016
EERE Blog
National Bat Appreciation Day

April 17 is National Bat Appreciation Day. Bats are amazing and helpful creatures, which is why DOE is serious about finding ways to keep them safe.

April 14, 2016
The heavily residential Gentilly section of New Orleans will receive several advanced microgrids after learning about their use from the Energy Transition Initiative. | Photo by Phil Voss/NREL
How Renewables Will Help New Orleans Keep the Lights On

The immense challenges that New Orleans faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were intensified by electric grid failures. More than 20 days after Hurricane Katrina struck, a quarter of the city's residents still didn't have power. In order to avoid massive disruptions like that in the future, the city reached out to the Energy Department to find a more resilient grid solution to power a more resilient New Orleans.

April 13, 2016
Timeline: A Brief History of Oil Prices and Vehicle Technologies

Benjamin Franklin once expressed that there are only two things you can count on in life: death and taxes. Transportation analysts might add a third item to that list – fluctuating gas prices. Our interactive timeline illustrates when and why oil prices have fluctuated over the last 40 years, and explains how the Energy Department has worked to minimize our country’s vulnerability to these price swings.

April 12, 2016
These before and after photos of Lake Oroville in Northern California show the dramatic results of extended years of drought. Funding support from the Energy Department to California’s Appliance Efficiency Program is lowering flow rates for faucets and showerheads as well as helping the state maintain a nearly constant level of electricity consumption per capita despite population growth.
EERE Success Story—Energy Department Assists with Conserving Water in California

Energy and water are strongly interdependent in the U.S. economy. Electricity generation requires water, and water treatment and distribution require energy. The Energy Department has studied this water-energy nexus and it has funded state initiatives promoting both water and energy conservation.

April 12, 2016
Improving Access to Energy-Rich Sugars. Ning Sun is part of a team of researchers in the Energy Department's Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) Deconstruction Division exploring methods to pretreat biomass. | Image courtesy of JBEI
Harnessing Biotechnology to Accelerate Advanced Biofuels Production

Advances in synthetic biology—which involves engineering biological systems for new uses—can offer innovative solutions to improve advanced biofuel production. This, in turn, can speed up the development and commercialization of biofuels, making them attractive and affordable to industrial manufacturers.

April 11, 2016
Project team members from WFIP 2 meet at the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, a data-collection site in Sherman County, Oregon. Photo courtesy: Justin Sharp/Vaisala
Testing the Wind in the Columbia River Gorge

Deep in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge in Washington and Oregon, an extensive data collection effort is underway. It’s all part of the Wind Forecasting Improvement Project in Complex Terrain’s (WFIP 2) effort to improve wind forecasts. From October 2015 through mid-2017, scientists will collect and analyze meteorological data in order to improve wind forecasts in regions of complex terrain, such as mountains, valleys, and river gorges. Our aim is to generate better forecasts that will help make wind power more reliable, efficient, and easier to integrate into the power grid.

April 8, 2016
WEC-Sim Phase 1 testing at the Oregon State University Hinsdale Directional Wave Basin.
EERE Success Story—Open-Source Testing Reaches New Milestone for Wave Energy

Ocean wave energy is a developing next-generation technology. Wave energy converters are important for renewable energy development because the wave energy resource in the United States is substantial, and co-located with a large percentage of the population.

April 7, 2016
These before and after photos of Lake Oroville in Northern California show the dramatic results of extended years of drought.  Funding support from the Energy Department to California’s Appliance Efficiency Program is lowering flow rates for faucets and showerheads as well as helping the state maintain a nearly constant level of electricity consumption per capita.
Energy Department Assists with Conserving Water in California

The Energy Department is helping California address severe drought conditions by supporting their Appliance Efficiency Program which lowers flow rates for faucets and showerheads as well as helps the state maintain a nearly constant level of electricity consumption per capita.

April 7, 2016
Depending on the technology pathway, one million Btu of natural gas, which has the same energy content of about nine gallons of gasoline, can take a car between 175 and 325 miles, compared to 200 miles for an equivalent conventional gasoline powered car.
Natural Gas: Lifting Mileage Higher and Higher

A new Energy Department brochure compares the energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and ranges of the three proposed natural gas passenger vehicle configurations using analysis by Argonne National Laboratory.

April 7, 2016
EERE Blog
Shining Sunlight on SunShot’s Project Portfolio

A new interactive project map gives the public a birds-eye view of more than 200 active projects in EERE's SunShot Initiative. Working to make solar energy cost competitive, SunShot is showing where the projects are, what they're setting out to discover, and more.

April 7, 2016
EERE Blog
Good Fences Make Good Financing: Project Finance Explained

How does EERE support research? We fund projects--and one way of doing so is through "project finance." This method helps minimize corporate risk, which promotes investment in diverse research and development efforts.

March 31, 2016
Several women from the Energy Department served as technology activity leaders and mentors to 4th- through 8th grade students at a White House event to spark youth interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Energy Department Women Flex STEM Muscle for Nation's Youth

Eighty 4th through 8th grade students and educators were special guests at the White House to kick off the administration’s “Week at the National Labs” event from Feb. 29-March 5. Among special invitees were three women from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), who led hands-on activities and mentored the youth during the “Day at the Lab” event. The EERE team wowed the students with technology displays and showcased the Energy Department’s growing pipeline of women in STEM.

March 31, 2016
PPG Industries’ online tool, Construct, allows users to quickly build a virtual Insulated Glass Unit (IGU) and calculate its thermal and optical properties. Image credit: PPG Industries.
EERE Success Story—Energy Efficient Windows to Reach Market Quicker with New Tool

About 10% of the energy used in U.S. buildings—approximately 4 quads per year—compensates for energy lost through windows. To address this inefficiency, architects, engineers, and home-builders are advocating the use of high-performance windows, which are composed of insulated glass units (IGUs). IGUs lessen unwanted heat gain by combining insulating frames and multiple panes, thin film coatings, and special gas fills between the panes, while selecting for other properties, such as transmittance of visible light and solar heat gain.

March 30, 2016
The Women of Geothermal. Image courtesy of the Geothermal Technologies Office.
Women's History Month: Women of Geothermal

When it comes to equality in employment for women, EERE's Geothermal Technologies Office is leading the way, literally. Guided by Dr. Susan Hamm as acting director, the program has equal representation of women in the office's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) positions. EERE celebrates the Women of Geothermal in Women's History Month.

March 30, 2016
Deputy Secretary Liz Sherwood-Randall with the graduates of the Solar Ready Vets program at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.
Graduating to a Bright Tomorrow: Solar Ready Vets Class Graduates from Hill AFB

Deputy Secretary of Energy Liz Sherwood-Randall visited Hill Air Force Base in Utah recently to celebrate with 18 graduates of EERE's Solar Ready Vets program. This program helps transition military veterans into civilian careers in the solar industry, with promising results to date.

March 29, 2016
Acoustic Doppler velocimeter, deployed in Puget Sound, Washington State. Image courtesy Jim Thomson, University of Washington.
Calming the Waters: The Impact of Turbulence on Tidal Energy Systems

New research is helping the emerging tidal energy industry learn from their counterparts in the wind industry. By considering the effects of atmospheric turbulence when developing turbine designs, the wind industry has lowered the cost of energy to record lows and deployed turbines broadly across much of the nation.

March 28, 2016
DOE’s 1.5-MW wind turbine at the National Wind Technology Center is being used to demonstrate that wind farms can provide the frequency-responsive back-up or “ancillary services” currently supplied to the electrical grid by conventional power plants. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder/National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
DOE Explores Potential of Wind Power to Stabilize Electric Grids

A team at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory is exploring the capability of wind energy to stabilize the nation's electrical grid when conventional power plants shut down. A 1.5 megawatt wind turbine, connected to a cutting edge grid simulator, is being tested at the National Wind Technology Center.