New Local Incentive Search Widget: DSIRE

Via The Energy Savers Blog.

The Energy Savers mailbox gets requests for the latest in tax credits, appliance rebates, and other energy efficiency incentives on a regular basis. So when the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) released its new incentive search widget, we were thrilled to post it on the Rebates, Tax Credits, & Financing section of the website!

The DSIRE widget helps you to quickly locate incentives in your state—whether you’re a homeowner, renter, business, school, or other purchaser—and find out which ones you can take advantage of right away.

What’s more is, since this is a widget, you can download the code by clicking on the “Get Widget” bar at the bottom of the graphic and place it on your own website. Check it out on the Energy Savers Rebates, Tax Credits, & Financing page.

Free Filtered Water For Reusable Bottle Users – The Trend Grows

Read the full post at Treehugger.

Certain places hold us captive to buying bottled water – which if you’ve seen the documentary Tapped you’ll likely not want to do. Airports are generally the worst – if you unthinkingly purchase bottles in the terminal before passing through security, your very expensive water will basically go staight into the trash. Adding a reusable bottle to the things we all cart around sometimes feels like a drag, but hopefully a new trend makes schlepping the reusable Kleen Kanteen or other stainless or glass bottle much more rewarding.

The Chicago Department of Aviation has installed filtered water stations especially designed for reusable bottles at both O’Hare (Terminal 2) and Chicago Midway airports. Not only is this a boon to those of us with reusable bottles and a real aversion to buying bottled water. It’s also saving CO2 emissions. Yes, a drop in the proverbial bucket, but a start in turning back the massive tide of bottled water that is so damaging to our environment and so unnecessary.

Army to Invest $7.1bn in Clean Energy Through Private Sector

Read the full post at Treehugger.

I was pleased to see the British army investing in beekeeping as an alternative to opium farming in Afghanistan. But that spending pales into insignificance compared to the money the US military is planning to plow into clean energy in coming decades. Brian already wrote about the potential for the military to bring solar to the masses, Matthew talked about $3.6bn in stimulus money that would be used to green the military, and now the army has launched a dedicated clean energy task force that will invest as much as $7.1bn in the next 10 years in renewables through the private sector.

Business Green reports that the newly formed Energy Initiatives Office (EIO) Task Force is charged with finding private sector partners to reach ambitious clean energy goals. With a target already identified of using renewables for a quarter of its energy needs by 2025, the army is acutely aware that it needs to invest in large-scale power projects, and it needs the help of the private sector to do so.

U.Va. Researchers Find High Energy Output From Algae-Based Fuel, But ‘No Silver Bullet’

Read the press release.

Algae-based fuel is one of many options among the array of possible future energy sources. New University of Virginia research shows that while algae-based transportation fuels produce high energy output with minimal land use, their production could come with significant environmental burdens.

For farmers looking to maximize profits, algae would produce considerably more transportation energy than canola and switch grass for every hectare planted, and can also be grown on poor-quality marginal land that cannot be easily used to grow food crops such as corn, according to a report by Andres F. Clarens and Lisa M. Colosi, both assistant professors of civil and environmental engineering in the U.Va. School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Mark A. White, professor in the McIntire School of Commerce.

From an environmental impact standpoint, however, algae-based fuel has mixed performance, compared to other biomass sources. Algae-based biodiesel production uses more energy – in the form of petroleum-powered processes – than other biofuels. Additionally, algae-based biodiesel and bioelectricity production processes also require substantial amounts of water and emit more greenhouse gases.

The report, “Environmental Impacts of Algae-Derived Biodiesel and Bioelectricity for Transportation,” is available online on the website of Environmental Science and Technology, a leading environmental research journal and will be published in an upcoming print edition. Hagai Nassau and Eleazer P. Resurreccion, civil and environmental engineering graduate students, contributed to the research.

USDA and DOE Fund 10 Research Projects to Accelerate Bioenergy Crop Production and Spur Economic Impact

The U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture have awarded 10 grants totaling $12.2 million to spur research into improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of growing biofuel and bioenergy crops. The investments are part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to develop domestic renewable energy and advanced biofuels, providing a more secure future for America’s energy needs and creating new opportunities for the American farming industry.

“Biofuels, along with other advanced vehicle technologies, hold the potential to help reduce our oil imports while adding new jobs and driving wealth creation in rural America,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “This investment in research will be instrumental in developing the best possible crops to produce biofuels.”

“USDA is helping our nation develop the next generation of biofuels to grow jobs and generate energy from new, homegrown sources,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Combining DOE’s leadership in genome-scale technologies with USDA’s experience in crop improvement will accelerate the efficient production of biofuels.”

Overall, the USDA and DOE projects are designed to improve special crops to be grown for biofuels—including selected trees and grasses—by increasing their yield, quality and ability to adapt to extreme environments. Researchers will rely on the most advanced techniques of modern genomics to develop breeding and other strategies to improve the crops. The research will be conducted on switchgrass, poplar, Miscanthus and Brachypodium, among other plants.

The potential benefits of this research range from decreasing oil imports to increasing options for American farmers.  Because these crops will be optimized to tolerate conditions such as drought and poor soils, they can be grown on marginal lands unsuitable for food crops, thereby avoiding competition with food production.  Farmers will have the option to grow bioenergy crops in addition to other existing crop choices.

The 10 projects are located in California, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia. View the full list.

This is the sixth year of the joint USDA and DOE funding program. DOE’s Office of Science will provide $10.2 million in funding for eight projects, while USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will award $2 million to fund two projects. Initial funding will support research projects for up to three years.

For more information on the individual projects and the joint DOE-USDA Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy research program.  For additional, visit the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

DOE updates the 2005 Billion Ton report on biomass; increased focus on energy crops

Read the full post at Green Car Congress.

The US Department of Energy released a new report—2011 U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry, referred to as 2011 BT2—detailing US biomass feedstock potential for energy applications nationwide.

The new report basically supports the conclusion of the original 2005 Billion-Ton Study (2005 BTS, earlier post)—that the land resources of the US could produce a sustainable supply of biomass sufficient to displace 30% or more of the country’s present petroleum consumption—but expands on the original to include:

  • A spatial, county-by-county inventory of potentially available primary feedstocks;
  • Price and available quantities (e.g., supply curves) for the individual feedstocks; and
  • A more rigorous treatment and modeling of resource sustainability.