This week in energy efficiency news…
Opower, in partnership with its 90 utility clients across seven countries, announced that it has saved three terawatt hours of energy, or enough to power 600,000 homes. The company now serves 22 million consumers and businesses worldwide with its cloud-based software platform, saving more than $350 million for its clients to date. Over the past two quarters, Opower has added eight utility partners, announced a program with E.ON that serves five million customers, and expanded its platform to eight million new residential and business users. By the end of 2013, Opower expects to employ 500 people across four offices in Arlington, VA, San Francisco, London and Singapore.
Severstal Columbus received a check from Tennessee Valley Authorty (TVA) for more than $2.5 million for achieving 25,251,390 kilowatt hours in energy savings through TVA’s Major Industrial Program. The most savings came from retrofitting four 2,750-horespower fans. The TVA check to Severstal Columbus is the largest payment to date for the TVA program, which encourages industrial facilities with more than five megawatts of energy demand to reduce electric intensity. TVA estimates Severstal will save $1.6 million annually in energy costs due to the efficiency upgrades.
Abengoa’s Solana parabolic trough solar plant in Gila Bend, Arizona, the first large-scale solar plant with a thermal energy storage system in the U.S., fulfilled production forecasts required for commercial operation. The 280-MW plant was able to operate at full capacity while charging the thermal storage system. Solana will be able to meet Arizona’s peak electricity demand during the summer evenings and early nighttime hours with six hours of thermal storage. Thermal storage capabilities also eliminate intermittency issues and provide stability to the grid. Arizona Public Service, the largest utility in Arizona, will purchase all of the electricity produced by the solar plant for 30 years through a power purchase agreement with Abengoa. The Solana plant marks the start of thermal energy storage systems being deployed around the world. The molten salt thermal storage market is poised to grow at a CAGR of 17.25 percent from 2012 to 2016, according to Research and Markets.
FuelCell Energy announced two updates regarding the development and commercialization of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology. First, FuelCell announced a $6.4 million cost shared cooperative agreement with the US Department of Energy to continue research and development of a SOFC power plant demonstration project. SOFC systems generate power with nearly zero pollutants and significant greenhouse gas emissions reduction, particularly when paired with combined heat and power. Secondly, FuelCell announced a project to convert agricultural waste at a dairy farm in California into power by utilizing a combined heat and power SOFC power plant. Through using advanced combined heat and power technologies and SOFC tenchology, FuelCell can achieve 80 to 85 percent thermal efficiency.
ASHRAE and IES published new energy efficiency standards for building envelope, lighting, mechanical systems and the energy cost budget and modeling. The new 2013 standards for the building envelope include opaque elements and fenestration requirements. The 2013 standards for lighting include adding more controls, daylighting requirements and lighting limits for exterior applications. The 2013 standards for mechanical efficiency include increased efficiency requirements for heat pumps, packaged terminal air conditioners, single package vertical heat pumps, and air conditioners evaporative condensers.