Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

EERE International: 2016 Year in Review

January 19, 2017

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Fonroche site in Rajasthan, India using First Solar modules. | Photo courtesy of First Solar

Fonroche site in Rajasthan, India using First Solar modules. | Photo courtesy of First Solar

Dear EERE International Stakeholders:

Since more than 80 percent of energy use and 95 percent of customers reside outside the United States, the pathway to a global clean energy economy cannot focus on the United States alone. To turn decades of investment in EERE’s development of clean energy technology into real economic progress for America, we must promote market development outside our borders.

That’s where EERE International comes in. And for a small program, we had a productive year!

We managed technical and policy assistance projects with 11 strategically important countries, with the aim of expanding markets for clean energy technologies and services. As we helped our partner countries grow their markets, we helped American companies improve their market access and competitiveness, facilitating millions of dollars of trade and investment. Below are a few highlights.

Many thanks to all the staff, national lab experts, partners, and collaborators who have helped make 2016 a success.  Best wishes for a happy, productive, and efficient new year!

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

 
Energy performance contracting with China

China’s market for energy service companies (ESCOs) is $13 billion, about twice the size of that in the United States. With the right policies and programs, there’s potential to grow both the U.S. and Chinese markets significantly. In 2016, we used our market analysis and policy recommendations to inform criteria for selecting pilot projects for deep energy retrofits in Chinese building and industrial facilities through energy performance contracting. The nine pilot projects featured American ESCOs and technology providers partnering with Chinese ESCOs, facility owners, and financiers. All projects will achieve at least 20 percent energy savings, and in aggregate reflect millions of dollars in U.S. export content. The pilot projects were recognized at the 7th Annual U.S. China Energy Efficiency Forum, where more than 200 U.S. and Chinese leaders and experts exchanged information on energy efficiency technologies, policies and programs, fostering new bilateral partnerships, trade and investment.

Strengthening markets for energy efficient building products in India

When well designed and implemented, building codes generate economic savings from better building performance, provide a more comfortable building environment, and increase the viability of the market for energy efficient products. We supported the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to help with implementation of India's Energy Conservation Buildings Code (ECBC) at the state and local level, including two “smart cities”, Visakhapatnam and Gujarat International Finance Tec-City. Our trainings and analysis helped local stakeholders better understand the importance of building energy codes, to use available resources to adopt and implement ECBC, and to evaluate code compliance. In November, PNNL published a Smart Cities Tool Kit for Implementing ECBC to help cities in India successfully implement India’s energy conservation building code. American companies have participated in stakeholder workshops organized as part of this project and have signaled strong support for our work, to help their bottom lines.

Accelerating the deployment of American-made clean energy products in South Africa

In 2016, our collaboration with South Africa focused on supporting the adoption of increasingly stringent and efficient building codes, similar to those in the United States. In June, we co-hosted the Smart-Energy Technology Conference that brought together U.S. and South African industry, government, and academic partners to establish the Building Performance Test Lab and share insights into new clean energy technologies. Our project team also presented analysis to the South Africa Bureau of Standards on the efficiency of building materials in the South African climate. We conducted several trainings throughout the year on DOE-developed software that analyzes typical South African building structure to determine their energy efficiency. The collective efforts have resulted in exports of advanced technology. For example, cool coatings that are applied to building roofs and walls in South Africa to reduce cooling loads and to meet new standards incorporate an advanced chemical component developed by DOW and produced in New Jersey.

Promoting energy efficiency in buildings in collaboration with Brazil

Over the past few years, we helped Brazil establish a business case for a new testing laboratory to help the country adopt performance standards that would carry across international markets. These efficiency ratings for windows, doors, and insulation – which standardize the measures of energy loss, heat gain and air leakage – prompted participation from American companies active or interested in the Brazilian market. With the lab established at Brazil’s Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) and stocked with American-made equipment, we began efforts in 2016 toward a common labeling scheme to promote trade of energy energy efficient glazings and supply chain materials. In 2016, as an additional benefit of our work, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and UFSC researchers developed the Portable Window Energy Window, a new device that can measure the energy performance of windows without removing them from their site. LBNL showcased and demonstrated the prototype to potential manufacturers and end users in the United States, who demonstrated interest in exploring opportunities for commercialization.

Improving efficiency through the International Partnership on Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC)  

IPEEC is an autonomous partnership of 16 of the Group of 20 economies (G20) focused on advancing energy efficiency policies, programs, and best practices. EERE International represents the United States and serves as Chair of the Executive Committee of IPEEC. In 2016, we activiely participated in nine multilateral collaborative efforts (IPEEC “Task Groups”). For example, we oversaw preparation of a report on the design, governance, and management of residential energy efficiency rating schemes among IPEEC member countries, which can inform policy approaches taken nationally and locally in the U.S. and other countries around the world. We also supported the development of the G20 Energy Efficiency Investors Statement, which highlights six key areas where institutional investors and asset managers can increase the efficiency of their portfolios, across asset classes. To date, 40 investors jointly managing $4 trillion in assets have endorsed the statement. 

RENEWABLE ENERGY

 
Renewable energy in rural Indonesia 

Our project on Sustainable Energy for Remote Indonesian Grids (SERIG) is blazing the trail for U.S. exports of clean energy technologies and services to Indonesia, a country with the world’s fourth largest population, a rapidly expanding economy, and aggressive goals for renewable energy and electricity access. We developed strategies to accelerate deployment of renewable electricity in remote communities across Indonesia’s 6,000 inhabited islands and is partnering with the Indonesian government to implement these strategies. Our SERIG project team, led by National Renewable Energy (NREL) experts, also conducted technical and economic analyses of renewable energy technologies for displacing diesel generation on three remote pilot grids. We are now working with U.S. developers, engineering companies, and technology providers to attract development of the pilot sites to demonstrate American technologies.

Mapping opportunities for solar in India 

India is primed for rapid solar expansion, with its abundance of sunshine, growing population, and its government’s vow to provide reliable electricity to all. These factors have led the U.S. Department of Commerce to rank India as the second most attractive market for U.S. solar exports. To underpin further development of that market, we supported NREL to collaborate with India’s National Institute of Solar Energy to enhance the quality and accuracy of India’s solar resource maps and data. Solar radiation data is used in a number of applications, including financial models to estimate potential revenue of solar projects. As part of our project, NREL released updated satellite-based solar radiation data for India in March 2016 on its National Solar Radiation Database. The updated database has already been accessed by more than 400 entities. Our solar resource mapping efforts have facilitated exports of American-made solar photovoltaics to India.

Promoting adoption of solar thermal technology in China 

China’s 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020) set a target of 5 gigawatts (GW) of concentrating solar power (CSP) by 2020. With world class commercial CSP installations and technology providers, thanks to decades of DOE investment, the United States is well positioned to help meet demands of this burgeoning market. Over the past several years, we helped facilitate partnerships and conduct technical analysis that are paying off. In 2016, the Chinese government finally released the policy (a feed-in tariff) that will allow its initial 20 CSP pilots to move forward. The value of the CSP tariff was informed by a technical analysis that we supported, completed by NREL and China’s State Grid Energy Research Institute. This paved market entry for American companies Brighsource Energy and Solar Reserve. In 2015, we facilitated tours by key Chinese officials of the landmark powerplant installations of both companies. In 2016, we helped these companies sign partnership agreements. The U.S. export content for the initial pilots and their planned expansion could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

CROSSCUTTING

 
Commercializing new technologies with Israel 

The Binational Industrial Research and Development Energy program provides grants to U.S. and Israeli businesses who partner and jointly apply for competitive awards to develop and jointly commercialize new clean energy technologies. With Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, we selected five clean energy projects to receive $4 million. This year’s projects are working in the areas of solar, biomass, energy efficiency, and energy storage. Three past awardees have already commercialized new technologies, resulting in new clean energy jobs, deployment of clean energy technology, and repayment of the grant, a condition of the award if commercialization is successful. More than $70 million in follow on investment has already been realized since the program launched in 2009.

Clean energy development in Chinese cities 

China is calling for cities to peak their emissions before 2030. With nearly 100 cities with more than 1 million people, the opportunity space for clean development is enormous. We supported training on technical tools developed by experts at LBNL to assist with urban planning and evaluation of policies and actions on emissions.  Activities included a training with more than 10 cities in conjunction with the second annual U.S.-China Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Summit and one with nine cities from Southern China. We worked closely with four major cities to do more in-depth modeling and roadmapping to find pathways towards cities’ peaking goal. Having already prepared a review of commercially available technologies for low carbon eco-city development in 2015, American companies, including members of the AmCham-affiliated U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program, are well positioned to help satisfy market demand for clean technology and services.

Renewable energy-powered water desalination systems 

We supported experts at NREL to provide review and oversight of a pilot program in the United Arab Emirates to test technologies for renewable energy-powered water desalination. All five pilot plants, including one using California-based Trevi Systems’ forward osmosis technology, are in an operational phase and producing data on innovative systems for water desalination. We also supported NREL’s participation in the new Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance, and a related expert workshop hosted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in October 2016. The report resulting from this workshop provided key insights on the global state of technology and research needs for renewably powered water desalination systems. This work may help guide EERE research and development investments and inform identification of cost effective solutions for desalination around the world, including drought-stricken Southern California.

International Solar Decathlon competitions 

The Solar Decathlon is a DOE-created competition series which challenges collegiate teams to compete across 10 different categories in the design, construction, and operation of energy efficient, solar-powered homes. Since 2002, seven competitions have been held in the United States. Since 2010, through DOE collaborations with international partners, Solar Decathlon competitions have been held in France, Spain, China, and Colombia. In 2016, we worked to bring the competition to Africa through an agreement that was signed in November at the COP22 climate conference in Marrakesh. Morocco will host the first Solar Decathlon Africa in 2019. We also facilitated an agreement signed later that month for Colombia to host the second Solar Decathlon Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018. In October, we participated in the announcement ceremony for the teams selected to take part in the first Solar Decathlon Middle East in 2018 (one team from the United States, Virginia Tech, was among those announced). China’s second competition is shaping up, and of course the next U.S. competition will take place in Colorado in October 2017. In all of these competitions, advanced renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, including many from top U.S. providers, will be on display to demonstrate the art of the possible – and practical – in sustainable housing.