Wind and Solar Energy

As part of the Climate Action Plan recently announced by President Obama, the Department of Energy (DOE) has announced an additional allocation of $8 billion through its loan program for projects that work toward reducing greenhouse emissions – most notably to curb atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane – mainly produced through the use of fossil fuels.

As of now, the DOE has invested over $34 billion in over 30 energy projects; ranging from developing new forms of green technology, improving on wind turbines and solar panels, and backing companies like electric vehicle maker Tesla – until they paid the DOE’s loan back in May. Much like President Obama noted during his recent speech at Georgetown University, Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz reiterated the sentiment for addressing a wide range of energy initiatives for the DOE to consider, including the improved efficiency measures of non-renewable energies like coal and nuclear power.

“America needs an all-of-the-above approach to develop homegrown energy and steady, responsible steps to cut carbon pollution, so we can protect our kids’ health and begin to slow the effects of climate change,” says Moniz. He continues, “These investments will play a critical role in accelerating the introduction of low-carbon fossil fuel technologies into the marketplace and reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Fossil fuels currently provide more than 80 percent of our energy, and adopting technologies to use them cleanly and more efficiently is critical to our all-of-the-above approach.”

In a statement regarding the $8 billion allocation, the DOE released a brief statement about which types of projects it’s targeting, “These technologies could include any fossil technology that is new or significantly improved; as compared to commercial technologies in service in the US… applicants must show that their proposed project avoids, reduces, or sequesters air pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions.”

As Knovel noted last week, the DOE is targeting several major factors when considering which projects to fund –

1) Resource Development – Extractions contribute nearly 5 percent of all US greenhouse gas emissions. The latest developments have come through the natural gas industry, as the equipment and technology has resulted in fewer wells that are being drilled more effectively.

2) Carbon Capture/Low-Carbon Power Systems – These two are closely-related: More efficient power systems will greatly benefit in minimizing carbon emissions, meaning less carbon will need to be captured. Overall, over 50 percent of emissions are created through fossil-based energy systems, making this a glaring need to address though DOE-funded initiatives.

3) Efficiency Improvements – The US wastes more energy than any country in the world, with an average of 58 percent being unused. Wasted heat energy is a common culprit of residential, industrial, and commercial properties alike. Something as simple as installing energy-efficient lighting or installing variable frequency drives in a factory can greatly help the effort, but the necessity to develop efficiency measures cannot, and has not gone unnoticed through the DOE.

Despite failed funding from the Department of Energy for start-ups like Solyndra and Fisker Automotive, the DOE states their loan program has boasted a sterling 97% success rate among the sum of their combined investments. However, Fisker’s demise may hurt that percentage a bit as it declared bankruptcy months after the 97% success rate claim was made, but that’s still an astonishing figure compared to start-ups in the private sector.

Photo Credit: Energy Efficiency/shutterstock