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The EERE Blog includes updates to current Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) projects, interviews with energy experts, and success stories about EERE’s technology offices and national laboratories. Subscribe to the blog email list.

November 1, 2016
SunPower is using drones and robotics to improve the development and operation of large-scale solar projects. Photo courtesy of SunPower.
EERE Success Story—Drones Help Solar Site Design Take Flight

The commercial and civic benefits of drones are growing—from surveying the eye of a hurricane to helping farmers maintain healthy crops—enabling researchers to imagine new possibilities for the emerging technology. Now, researchers think drones can help the solar industry.  

October 31, 2016
Weatherization Training Centers and Technology Impact
Creating Jobs in Home Efficiency

Over the last 40 years, the Energy Department's Weatherization Assistance Program has helped weatherize more than 7 million homes, helping to improve the health and safety of occupants while reducing energy bills. Another benefit of this program is job creation with a recent national evaluation of the program finding that it supports 8,500 jobs in a typical year.

October 28, 2016
8 Questions with Idaho National Lab Director on the DOE Lab-Corps Program

Since the DOE Lab-Corps program launched in fall 2015, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has put through more researchers than any other national lab. We sat down with INL Director Mark Peters to find out why he thinks researchers at INL are so attracted to the innovative Lab-Corps curriculum.

October 27, 2016
Weatherization Assistance Program Sets Gold Standard for Home Performance Industry

The Energy Department is joining weatherization organizations across the U.S. who've used federal government funding to weatherize low-income homes in celebrating National Weatherization Day on Sunday, October 30. Forty years after the Energy Department started this program, it’s making a bigger impact than ever so many Americans don’t have to choose between heat, medicine, and food.

October 27, 2016
EERE Blog
“Witchgrass” Switchgrass: A Feedstock for Future Flights

You might think it would take a Halloween trick to transform grasses, corn husks, and other plants and organic waste into fuel you can use to power your car or an airplane. But scientists are already figuring out how to use chemical processes at a biorefinery to cost-effectively convert the sugars from non-food plants and wastes into biofuel. Biofuels are already powering some airplanes—and that’s no trick!

October 26, 2016
This Energy Department-funded technology, the Whooshh Fish Transport System, uses lengths of flexible tube and slight differences in pressure to gently propel salmon and other fish up and around obstacles such as hydroelectric dams in waterways. | Photo courtesy of Whooshh Innovations
Project Led by a Small Business Keeps Fish Out of Harm’s Way

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has worked with Whooshh Innovations on an inventive project demonstrating a fish-friendly transport system. This Energy Department-funded technology uses lengths of flexible tube and slight differences in pressure to gently propel salmon and other fish up and around obstacles such as hydroelectric dams in waterways.

October 25, 2016
More than Just an Energy Efficiency Program, Weatherization Ensures Health and Safety

The Energy Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) has reduced energy costs for millions of low-income households by providing energy efficiency upgrades. Many of the people getting their homes weatherized are also realizing another positive result: improved health and home safety.

October 24, 2016
Aerial photograph of the company’s algae test ponds in Kauai, Hawaii. | Photo courtesy of Global Algae Innovations, Inc.
Algae Hard at Work in Hawaii

The beautiful island of Kauai, Hawaii, is known for its pristine beaches and dramatic mountain ranges. But Kauai is not just a vacation spot; it is also the location of one of the largest algae biofuel production facilities in the United States.

October 24, 2016
Sun Number Scores show a home’s solar potential and are now available on Zillow’s website for more than 35 million homes across the United States.
EERE Success Story—Sun Number Partnership with Zillow Brings Solar Potential Scores to Millions of Americans

Millions of Americans looking to buy a home have a new resource to help them go solar in the process. Thanks to a partnership between SunShot Initiative awardee Sun Number and real estate company Zillow, homeowners and prospective buyers across the country can now quickly and easily access detailed information about a property’s solar energy potential.

October 21, 2016
Announcing 7 Communities That Will Lead the Climate Fight in Alaska

Remote Alaska Communities Energy Efficiency Competition helps communities implement energy solutions that can be replicated throughout rural Alaska and potentially other Arctic regions.

October 21, 2016
SunShot's social sciences research is helping to explore the forces behind solar adoption in the United States. | Photo courtesy of National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Insights into Consumer Preferences Mirrored in Powerful Solar Software Platforms

The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative is taking new steps to reduce solar energy costs. Social sciences research is helping to explore the forces behind solar adoption in the United States.

October 21, 2016
Graphic by Sarah Harman | Energy Department
How Much Power is 1 Gigawatt?

Today marks the one-year anniversary of “Back to the Future” Day.

It’s a date most movie buffs know by heart: October 21, 2015 – the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future in Stephen Spielberg’s 1989 classic “Back to the Future: Part II.”

Although you may not have remembered the date, you’ve probably heard of Doc’s DeLorean, which takes 1.21 gigawatts (GW) of power to travel through time. Admittedly, our national labs haven’t quite figured out time travel just yet, but they do analyze power.

October 20, 2016
Electric Vehicle Charging: Coming to a Federal Workplace Near You

Nearly 75% of Americans commute to work alone. That makes for a lot of cars that use a lot of gasoline that produce a lot of greenhouse gasses. The Energy Department's Workplace Charging Challenge is making it easier for commuters to use plug-in electric vehicles to get to work.

October 19, 2016
Our Cities-LEAP project, which helps deliver standardized energy data and analysis, recently launched two new resources to help cities strategically map their energy vision for the future.
New Resources Help U.S. Cities to Accelerate the Clean Energy Revolution

Tackling climate change requires the cooperation of leaders and organizations at every level, including local communities. Our Cities-LEAP project, which helps deliver standardized energy data and analysis, recently launched two new resources to help cities strategically map their energy vision for the future.

October 19, 2016
Bioenergy: Renewable, Sustainable, Attainable

Happy Bioenergy Day! Today, bioenergy organizations across North America are celebrating the benefits of bioenergy by holding events and open houses in their local communities. Here at the Energy Department we’re celebrating as well, with extra coverage of bioenergy successes and news all month.

October 19, 2016
Aerial view of Enel Green Power North America’s Stillwater plant in Fallon, Nevada, the first triple hybrid renewable energy plant. | All photos courtesy of Enel Green Power North America, Inc.
This Hybrid Power Plant Combines 3 Clean Energy Sources in One

Engineers at Idaho National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory helped build the world’s first triple hybrid renewable energy plant. It combines geothermal power, solar panels and concentrating solar power into one reliable energy source.

October 14, 2016
Renewing Forests in Colorado: Opportunities for Bioenergy

Decomposition of dead trees occurs naturally and is healthy for a forest ecosystem. However, too many dead trees makes the region prone to forest fires that are costly and dangerous to contain. Recent advances in biofuel technologies are bringing us closer to turning those dead trees into biofuels.

October 13, 2016
EERE Blog
Better Buildings Challenge Partners Net Energy Savings With Efficiency Improvements

What do Frosty's and Cheerios have in common? Both brands are tied to the Energy Department's Better Buildings Challenge. But Wendy’s and General Mills are not alone. Find out what other conglomerates are also striving to achieve a 20% energy savings over 10 years.

October 13, 2016
Advancing the Frontiers of Clean Energy Innovation

America must continue to push the boundaries of clean energy innovation by doubling down on Federally-funded research and accelerating new technologies.

October 13, 2016
Students from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, participate in a fuel cell demonstration outside the Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, D.C. | <em>Photo by Jeremy Kahn</em>
New 'Energy Talks' Series Introduces Students to Clean Energy Technologies

The first in a series of "Energy Talks" kicked off at the Energy Department on Oct. 11 with 100 ninth-graders from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, listening to talks on everything from fuel cell technologies to building efficiency to future careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

October 12, 2016
On the Verge of a Hydrogen Tipping Point?

Across the country this past week, scientists and engineers have been celebrating National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day. Aptly chosen to represent the atomic weight of hydrogen (1.008), National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day was celebrated for the first time on October 8, 2015 and this year we’ve keeping the momentum going.

October 11, 2016
This technology transfer public-private partnership project at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory demonstrates friction stir welding, a process that overcomes the challenges of traditional laser welding, enabling manufacturers to use more lightweight materials in more vehicle components, thus improving fuel efficiency. | <em>Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory</em>
At SXSW Eco: Small Businesses Play Key Role in Developing Clean Energy

Hundreds of business leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs and designers gathered at the South by Southwest Eco (SXSW Eco) in Texas. The conference has quickly become a launch pad for the latest cleantech innovations set to positively impact society and the environment, making it a great venue to celebrate sustainability solutions and emphasize the Energy Department’s new $12 million investment into its Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot program.

October 7, 2016
EERE Blog
Revolution...Now Rewind: Illustrating the Wind Energy Story

As detailed in the recently released 2016 Revolution…Now report, the U.S. wind energy industry has forged a trajectory of sustained growth thanks to rapidly decreasing costs and increasing market demand. Let’s take a deeper dive to better understand where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we’re headed in the near future.

October 7, 2016
Making Our Solar Future with American Manufacturing

Every second that ticks by, six solar cells come off U.S. manufacturing lines that contain crystalline silicon. In 10 years, the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative expects nearly three-times that amount to be racing across the lines, helping to make America a leader in high-tech solar manufacturing.

October 7, 2016
With SunShot funding, 1366 Technologies developed these three-dimensional silicon wafers that require fewer raw materials, helping to reduce the cost of solar panels.
EERE Success Story – Silicon Solar Wafers Enter a New Dimension

The vast majority of solar modules are currently made with silicon, as the material is widely available, relatively low-cost, and able to reach high efficiencies. Today, nearly all silicon wafers for solar modules are manufactured by first transforming the raw material into silicon blocks, which are then sawed into thin wafers that are turned into solar cells and integrated into modules. But one SunShot Initiative awardee has developed a method that is changing the game.