In the past two weeks, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced numerous projects to receive funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “Act”) to support research and development in biofuels, solar, energy-efficient lighting and more.
On January 13, 2010, Secretary Chu announced more than $80 million in financing under the Act for a new national program dedicated to biofuels research, much of which will be focused on algae research. Yet, according to the New York Times, a recent University of Virginia study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology suggests that algae production is energy intensive and can end up emitting more greenhouse gases than it sequesters. That said, algae does not compete with food crops for land space and has a higher energy yield than other biofuels sources, including corn and switch grass.
The funding also includes monies for ethanol infrastructure projects in nine states, including Georgia and Florida. The projects plan to install E85 pumps, retrofit existing pumps to dispense E85, and install blender pumps that offer ethanol blends up to 85 percent at over 60 stations.
Other recently released funding projects include:
More than $37 million in funding earmarked for 17 projects that support high-efficiency solid-state lighting projects. Solid-state lighting, which uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) instead of incandescent bulbs, has the potential to be ten times more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent lighting. (Announced on January 15, 2010).
On January 20, 2010, DOE announced that its National Renewable Energy Laboratory will invest up to $12 million in total funding in four companies to support the development of early stage solar energy technologies and help them advance to full commercial scale. Three of the companies are located in California and one company is located in North Carolina.
On January 21, 2010, five projects were selected to receive more than $20.5 million under the Act to support deployment of community-based renewable energy projects, such as biomass, wind and solar installations.