USDA Announces $5.2 Million for Nanotechnology Research

Read the full story from USDA.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced an investment of more than $5.2 million to support nanotechnology research at 11 universities. The universities will research ways nanotechnology can be used to improve food safety, enhance renewable fuels, increase crop yields, manage agricultural pests, and more. The awards were made through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the nation’s premier competitive, peer-reviewed grants program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences.

Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework

The Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework (KDF) is an online collaboration toolkit and data resource providing access to the latest research on bioenergy. The site supports the creation of a robust, advanced, domestic bioenergy industry for the United States, offering resources for researchers, private industry, policy makers, and the public. In the KDF, users can:

  • Search the Bioenergy Library to find datasets, publications, and models on a wide variety of bioenergy topics.
  • Use the map interface to visualize, analyze, download, and export geospatial data.
  • Browse the site’s collection of specialized Tools & Apps, which can also be launched on the map.

The Bioenergy Library contains hundreds of publications, datasets, and models specifically related to the production, distribution, delivery, and end use of bioenergy. Many of the Bioenergy Library publication records include abstracts and links to full-text content. Additionally, users can add data to certain datasets and visualize them on the KDF map. Registered users also have the ability to comment on entries and share links with others via email and social networking sites.

Can energy efficiency rise to its $279 billion potential and help meet climate goals?

Read the full story from ACEEE.

Energy efficiency financing has seen record growth over the past year. Property-assessed clean energy (PACE) hit a billion dollar milestone, the nation’s largest green bank has roughly $4 billion of projects in the pipeline, and green bond issuance grew from $3 billion four years ago to over $40 billion in 2015. Total energy efficiency investment in buildings is slated to reach $125 billion by 2020, which is still less than half of the estimated $279 billion available.

But is it enough? On one hand, the market is telling us that we are poised to leave hundreds of billions of dollars on the table, while the Paris climate negotiations earlier this year set investment targets of over $200 billion to help avoid climate change. Energy efficiency financing is growing fast, but can it grow fast enough?

A DOE budget request sheds light on the future of advanced manufacturing

Read the full story from ACEEE.

The Department of Energy’s 2017 budget request was released back in February, and is now awaiting congressional approval. The request included $261 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), the part of DOE that focuses on energy use in the manufacturing sector. It does so by bringing together manufacturers, research institutions, suppliers, and universities to promote manufacturing clean energy products and implementing best practices. The increase, over prior years, of the AMO budget allocation demonstrates a continuing interest and commitment by the federal government to invest in energy efficiency in the industry sector, especially in helping energy-intensive manufacturers reduce their energy use and develop new, energy-efficient technologies, processes, and products.

Coal economy workers need help — and a carbon tax could provide it

Read the full story from Brookings.

Both as a result of market forces—especially low natural gas prices—and because of our search for clean energy sources, America’s coal workers and their communities are hurting. Coal consumption is declining, both at home and abroad, creating ripple effects across coal-reliant economies that begin with job losses and spill over to cause a host of economic and fiscal problems.

The jobs picture has been especially bleak for coal workers over the past year, with large layoffs occurring in even the most productive coal plants. Just last month, One of America’s most productive coal plants, in Wyoming, laid off 15 percent of its workforce. In Magoffin County, Kentucky, where coal production dominates local industry, unemployment reached 21.6 percent.

In new research published at Brookings this week, I take a closer look at how declines in coal production have impacted coal workers and local economies and consider industry projections for the coming decades. I show how it would be a risky bet to rely on a rebound in the coal sector to improve coalfield economies and how federal support will be necessary to help dislocated workers, their families, and retirees. Though several policy proposals have emerged to address the concerns of coal-reliant areas, there’s a striking disconnect between the urgent needs in coal country and the level of funding currently available to meet those needs.

See Which Parts Of The World Still Run On Fossil Fuels With This Interactive Map

Read the full story in Fast Company.

The bad news is that most of the world still runs on dirty fuels. But the bright spots—including 7 countries that are 100% renewable power—are growing.