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OSTIblog Articles in the energy Topic

Keeping the lights on

On August 14, 2003, a software bug at a utility company brought New York City to its knees, and the resulting cascading effect ultimately forced the shutdown of more than 100 power plants (read more). Approximately 50 million people in 8 U.S. states and Canada experienced the worst blackout in North American history.

Research has been ongoing at the Department of Energy to improve our electrical grid’s reliability to ensure history is not repeated. Dr. William Watson, Physicist, OSTI staff, details in his latest white paper In the OSTI Collections: Keeping Power Grids Stable how DOE researchers are using data-based simulations, mathematically analyzing power grid behavior, improving energy storage, and working to understand the effects of transient power changes caused by devices connected to the grid so that we can avoid power grid instability and keep the lights on.  

Related Topics: blackout, Dr. William Watson, energy, lights, North American, OSTI Homepage, power grids, power plants


Department of Energy’s SunShot Projects


Department of Energy’s SunShot Projects

The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.  As part of the initiative, the Department announced seven data-driven projects that will bring to light new opportunities to lower costs and advance solar energy deployment in the U.S.A.  Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, “Through powerful analytical tools developed by our nation’s top universities and national labs, we can gain unparalleled insight into solar deployment that will help lower the cost of solar power and create new businesses and jobs.”

The Energy Department is investing funds in these projects to assist with these new discoveries to improve solar cell efficiency and reduce costs.

DOE Green Energy site, offers more information on the SunShot Initiative

Additional Resources:

Related Topics: Chu, diffusion, DOE Green Energy, energy, green energy, power, solar, SunShot


Wind Direction Forward

Wind-Energy - A Revitalized Pursuit was issued by Sandia Laboratories in 1974.  This report discusses challenges of the “energy crunch” and the U.S. goal to maintain high standards of living by developing “promising energy sources that are (1) vast, (2) environmentally acceptable, and (3) economically competitive.”  The authors felt that wind energy was a feasible solution. 

Devising ways to efficiently harness the wind is an ongoing pursuit of scientists around the world.  The wind mills of the past have evolved into high-tech wind turbines, governed by complex computer systems.  These control systems continue to be more and more important as turbines become larger, with more flexible and lighter components.  Advanced controls are necessary to prevent damage and possible malfunction of the turbines.  Facilities for testing new control systems at the National Wind Technology Center are described in the fact sheet Advanced Wind Turbine Controls Reduce Loads

Read more about wind energy in the DOE Science Showcase: Wind Power and watch Energy 101: Wind Turbines  (YouTube) to learn about the fundamentals and future of wind energy.


Daphne Evans, OSTI Staff

Related Topics: energy, Sandia, showcase, wind


Energy in the Forecast

If you can accurately predict the weather, you may be able to predict how much energy can be generated from wind turbines.  That was one objective of the “Great Plains Wind Energy Transmission Development Project,” completed in 2011, to “develop a wind energy forecast system, and demonstrate its efficacy in scheduling power output from wind farms in the Great Plains.”  The forecasting system described in the report was comprised of three elements, a software component using various weather prediction models, a wind energy output model, and a graphical user interface.

Detailed wind resource maps, provided by the Wind Powering America Initiative, are another tool for demonstrating wind resource potential and removing some of the guesswork from wind energy prediction. 

You can read more about the wind, weather, and turbine dynamics in OSTI Collections: Wind Power, and link to many other research reports delving deeper into a range of topics related to wind energy.

Daphne Evans, OSTI Staff

Related Topics: energy, maps, OSTI collections, weather, wind, wind collection


ETDEWEB World Energy Base


ETDEWEB World Energy Base

Just in time for the summer heat, a refreshing new design of ETDEWEB World Energy Base!  New results screen and display options make your search experience cool.  (Registration may be required). See more records on your search results screen and don’t forget to use the new ‘…Show More’ to expand content.  Interested in full text?  Users may now limit their searches to show only records with full text available.

Not sure exactly what you want to search for?  Check out the latest ETDEWEB World Energy Base enhancement: Popular Topics.  Using Popular Topics will give you search results from topics you may have not thought to explore yet. Or if a Popular Topic is already your area of interest, simply click the search to get the latest information available.

ETDEWEB World Energy Base is constantly working to expand the content you know and love.  Come explore and search for information on energy R&D; energy policy and planning; basic sciences and materials research; the environmental impact of energy production and use, including climate change; energy conservation; nuclear; coal and fossil fuels; renewable energy technologies and much, much more. ETDE is always open to receiving your thoughts and suggestions.

Related Topics: climate change, coal, conservation, energy, ETDEWEB, fossil, fuels, nuclear, r&d


Fuel cell vehicle…working toward an enviro-friendly car of the future


Fuel cell vehicle…working toward an enviro-friendly car of the future

Hydrogen fuel cells are being widely tested as a potential for meeting future transportation needs.

In the technical report, Controlled Hydrogen Fleet and Infrastructure Demonstration and Validation Project, available from the Information Bridge, the U.S. Department of Energy, Mercedes-Benz & Research Development, North America (MBRDNA), Chrysler, Daimler, Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), BP, DTE Energy and Next Energy endeavor to substantiate fuel cell technologies for infrastructure and transportation as well as evaluate technology and commercial market suitability. Tests were performed through the operation and fueling of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in practical situations, including variations in climate, topography, and driving conditions.

The Team deployed 30 GEN I and 20 GEN II fuel cell vehicles to over 37 customers located in various regions in the United States, which provided real-world lessons for the future of the overall program. This report and many others are available on this topic…find them at the DOE Information Bridge.


Related Topics: energy, fuel cells, Information Bridge (IB)


Energy Quadrennial Technology Review Released

“The Department is uniquely situated to serve as a resource for energy and technology data, information, and analysis that can enhance understanding, operation and planning across all organizations… ."

— From the Energy Quadrennial Technology Review

"the Department’s role as a source of information… is unique and indispensible in the advancement of energy technologies.”

— From the media announcement regarding the Energy Quadrennial Technology Review

On September 27, Secretary Steven Chu and Under Secretary Steven Koonin released the first Report on the Department of Energy Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR).

Recommended by the President’s Council on Science and Technology (PCAST), the Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Technology Review highlights the Department’s key research functions in a broad energy landscape.  It states that the Department’s role as a source of information and as a convener, two functions that are often underestimated, is unique and indispensible in the advancement of energy technologies.  It establishes a framework, utilizing six key strategies, to prioritize the Department’s research and development across energy technologies.

The QTR finds that DOE should give greater emphasis to the transport sector relative to the stationary sector.  Among the transport strategies, DOE will devote its greatest effort to electrification of the light-duty fleet, a sweet spot for pre-competitive DOE R&D.  Within the stationary heat and power sector, the QTR finds that DOE should increase emphasis on efficiency and grid modernization.  Finally, it highlights the need for DOE to develop stronger, more integrated policy, economics and technical analysis of its...

Related Topics: 21st century, doe, energy, r&d, research, Technology


DOE’s Solar Decathlon – Building the Future


DOE’s Solar Decathlon – Building the Future

The Solar Decathlon is being held September 23–October 2, 2011, at the National Mall’s West Potomac Park in Washington, DC. The event is free and open to the public.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon  challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

19 teams from universities from the US and around the world are competing in the sixth running of the Solar Decathlon.  Each team’s home is monitored for its performance in five areas relating to performance and livability: comfort (maintaining comfortable temperature and humidity in the home), hot water (producing a sufficient quantity for washing and bathing), appliances (such as keeping refrigerated items at the right temperature), home entertainment (running lights, computers and other devices) and energy balance.  For the energy balance portion, homes must even out energy consumption and generation so that they use zero net energy over the course of a week. Other contests rate the teams for their communications with the public, as well as the affordability, architecture, engineering and market appeal of their homes. The winner of the competition will be announced on October 1.

To learn more about solar energy and other green energy technologies, go to the DOE Green Energy Portal and find results from valuable sources of DOE research and development information, including  DOE databases of technical reports and patents that arefiltered for green energy related subjects such as solar, hydro, geothermal, wind energy, energy storage, tidal and wave power, direct energy conversion, nuclear fuel cycle, biomass, synthetic...

Related Topics: biomass, collegiate, decathlon, DOE Green Energy, energy, geothermal, green, hydro, power, solar, synthetic fuels, wave, wind


Strengthening America’s Energy Security


Strengthening America’s Energy Security

Energy continues to be much in the news these days; rising gas prices affect all Americans – families feel the pinch at the pump, and businesses and farmers see the increased costs impact their bottom line.

The Obama Administration recently released a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future (pdf) that outlines a comprehensive national energy policy that aims to:

  • Develop and secure America’s energy supplies
    • Expand Safe and Responsible Domestic Oil and Gas Development and Production
    • Lead the World Toward Safer and More Secure Energy Supplies
  • Provide consumers with choices to reduce costs and save energy
    • Reduce Consumers Costs at the Pump with More Efficient Cars and Trucks
    • Cut Energy Bills with More Efficient Homes and Buildings
  • Innovate our way to a clean energy future
    • Harness America’s Clean Energy Potential so that 80 percent of electricity will come from clean energy sources by 2035
    • Win the future through Clean Energy Research and Development
    • Lead by Example so that the Federal Government models best practices and clean energy technologies

Do you want to know what is being done at the Department of Energy and its national laboratories that will help reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy, what new or alternative sources of energy are being developed and how we can use energy more efficiently?

Go to the Office of Scientific and Technical Informationand use Science Accelerator, a free resource that was developed to advance discovery and deliver science information.

Science Accelerator allows the user to search, via a single query, for...

Related Topics: America, energy, Science Accelerator