Bridgestone Americas hosts TAEBC Annual Meeting featuring Nissan, new board members

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council wrapped up another successful Annual Meeting in Nashville thanks to Bridgestone Americas.

Bridgestone Americas recently moved into a brand new building in downtown Nashville deemed the Bridgestone Tower. The 30-story high-rise building provided a remarkable venue and demonstrated Tennessee’s surge in its advanced energy economy.

Attendees heard from featured guest Scott Becker, Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance for Nissan North America. His presentation focused on Nissan’s contribution to Tennessee’s advanced energy economy providing good-paying jobs for Tennesseans and the growth the company has experienced since its original decision to locate to Tennessee.

He also discussed Nissan’s corporate vision striving for Zero Emissions through its electric vehicles and Zero Fatalities through its autonomous drive technologies, all leading back to the Nissan LEAF.

Scott Becker presenting during TAEBC Annual Meeting.

Members also had the opportunity to hear from TAEBC’s newest board members in a panel moderated by Vice President Cortney Piper. Trish Starkey with Schneider Electric, Marc Gibson with UT, and Chris Bowles with Bradley were all formally appointed to serve on TAEBC’s board.

The newest board members were asked a variety of questions including what their thoughts were on Tennessee’s current advanced energy economy, outlooks for the future, and what areas within the state’s advanced energy ecosystem they felt could use improvement.

More: TAEBC welcomes newest board members Trish Starkey, Marc Gibson and Chris Bowles

Tennessee auto manufacturers awarded for sustainability, energy efficiency practices

Nissan manufacturing operations in Smyrna, Tennessee recently received the 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award for the sixth year in a row.

This is the highest honor given to top organizations dedicated to protecting the environment by making their operations more energy efficient.

Nissan has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its continued commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy management.

Nissan’s efforts to reduce energy usage include switching to more efficient LED lighting, enhancing the compressed air leak production program, optimizing chilled water systems and using a paint process involving less volatile organic compounds that has cut energy usage by 30 percent.

Nissan’s Tennessee facility was also recently awarded the ENERGY STAR Certification for the eleventh year in a row, signifying Nissan’s spot among the top 25 percent of the automotive manufacturing industry for superior energy management.

Also Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant has been continuing to strengthen its energy policies. The Chattanooga facility is the first and only LEED Platinum certified automotive plant worldwide.

The plant has a solar park with 33,000 solar panels on 66 acres with a capacity of 9.5 million watts. Volkswagen also utilizes an advanced painting process that reduces CO2 emissions by 20 percent, and power efficient light bulbs installed in various lighting systems on site saves an estimated 20 percent energy compared to conventional industrial lighting.

Three Distinctive Features of Tennessee’s Energy Economy: Part Three

The potential for Tennessee to expand its advanced energy technologies is shaped by its economic factors and unique assets. TAEBC identified three distinctive features of Tennessee’s energy economy that together reflect the challenges and opportunities for the expansion of advanced energy technologies:

  1. High Per-Capita Energy Consumption
  2. A Gap in Personal Income
  3. The Potential of Three Major Players (and Who are They?)

In some recent posts, we have elaborated on Tennessee’s high per-capita energy consumption and a gap in personal income. The final part to this series is discussing the potential of three major players – and explaining who they are.

Initiatives from three distinct components of Tennessee’s economy – the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the automotive sector, including the massive assembly plants of General Motors, Nissan and Volkswagen – will have a disproportionate influence on the direction and success of the state’s efforts to promote an advanced energy economy. The ability to understand the assets that these three major economic players bring to the discussion, as well as their willingness to combine these assets in support of advanced energy technologies, will to a large extent shape the opportunities for sustained expansion of the advanced energy economy in Tennessee.

While the automotive sector represents what may be the single largest opportunity to expand the use of advanced energy technologies, significant opportunities also exist within other key clusters in which Tennessee, because of geography and a mature industrial base, has a competitive advantage. Examples include logistics, transportation and distribution services, chemical products and plastics, and advanced manufacturing.

Since its creation in the 1930s, TVA has played a major role in the growth of Tennessee’s manufacturing base and, more recently, in efforts to reduce the volume of sulphur and carbon emissions in the state’s air. TVA’s mission includes use of the agency’s resources to improve environmental quality and foster economic development. The scope of TVA’s energy portfolio makes it possible to pilot, incentivize and evaluate a variety of innovative clean technologies.

Increasingly, Tennessee’s inventory of advanced energy technologies is the beneficiary of breakthrough discoveries and initiatives at ORNL, the nation’s largest energy research institution, and the University of Tennessee. The Laboratory is at the forefront of innovation for biofuels, energy storage, solar technology and nuclear power. A close relationship with the University of Tennessee has resulted in the Laboratory becoming a vital part of the state of Tennessee’s economic strategy with successive governors.

In many respects, the initiatives of both TVA and ORNL are responsive to efforts by Tennessee’s automotive manufacturers to promote advanced energy technologies, both in their products and in the operation of their manufacturing facilities. In Smyrna, Nissan has made a historic investment in the design and manufacture of batteries and electric cars in Tennessee. In Chattanooga, Volkswagen operates Tennessee’s largest solar park, where 13 million kilowatt hours are produced annually to power 12 percent of the enormous manufacturing facility.[i] Each of Tennessee’s automotive manufacturers is looking over the horizon to innovative technologies and materials such as carbon fiber that will reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency.

The last decade has witnessed a growing willingness among the three major entities in Tennessee’s energy economy to partner in the deployment of innovative technologies. TAEBC views the ability to replicate this kind of cooperation as a key factor in expanding Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

[i] 2012, August 29. Work begins on $30 million solar park at Volkswagen. Chattanooga Times-Free Press. Retrieved from http://www.timesfreepress.com.

Three Distinctive Features of Tennessee’s Energy Economy: Part One

As in every state, the potential for the expansion of advanced energy technologies will be shaped by economic factors and assets that are unique to Tennessee. TAEBC identified three distinctive features of Tennessee’s energy economy that together reflect the challenges and opportunities for the expansion of advanced energy technologies:

  1. High Per-Capita Energy Consumption
  2. A Gap in Personal Income
  3. The Potential of Three Major Players (and Who are They?)

We’ll elaborate on Tennessee’s high per-capita energy consumption for this blog post and explore the other features in subsequent posts. 

The most distinctive feature of the state’s energy economy – and perhaps the greatest opportunity for an investment in advanced energy technologies – is the fact that Tennessee ranks as the 20th largest user of energy, per capita, in the U.S. The average residential consumer uses far more energy than consumers in almost all other states. In 2011, the average Tennessean used 87.8 million Btu’s of electricity, ranking Tennessee the 4th highest consumer of energy in the residential sector.[i]

In terms of industrial and commercial energy consumption per capita, Tennessee ranks as the 25th highest user. However, roughly 47 percent of energy consumed in Tennessee is for industrial and commercial purposes, while only 24 percent of Tennessee’s total consumption is for the residential sector. Approximately 29 percent of Tennessee energy consumption falls in the transportation sector.[ii]

TVA’s decision in 2007 to promote energy efficiency initiatives offers hope that historic patterns of energy consumption in Tennessee might gradually be reversed through the adoption of a combination of new energy technologies, government policies and TVA incentives designed to reduce residential demand for electric power. By 2010, energy efficiency programs had resulted in a savings of 143,000 megawatts of power, or about .14 percent of the state’s power consumption.[iii]

The introduction of new advanced energy technologies, particularly in the automotive industry, holds the promise of substantial reductions of energy use, both in the manufacturing of vehicles and in the amount of transportation energy used by the vehicles. The incorporation of similar technologies could have equally significant energy reductions for large commercial companies such as Federal Express.

Linked to TVA’s effort to reduce energy consumption is the agency’s parallel desire to lower the volume of emissions from coal-fired plants that provide more than one-half of the state’s electricity. The implementation of new energy technologies, some of which may be developed in Tennessee research institutions, can assist TVA in reaching that goal. In some instances, the ability to move these advanced energy technologies into the market will depend upon providing entrepreneurs with available capital and the support services required to stand up a new company.

The effort to reduce emissions from coal-fired plants is supplemented by initiatives to reduce the use of fossil fuels in Tennessee’s transportation industry. Joining with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the state of Tennessee has allocated substantial funds to promote research and deployment of biofuels. Working with the same two partners, in 2011 Nissan chose Tennessee as one of the first five states to introduce the company’s electric car. Memphis Bioworks Foundation has been a major catalyst for business-led approaches to commercial advanced biofuels, biomass and feedstocks across Tennessee and the Mid-South.

Tennessee’s largest employer, Federal Express, is partnering with the Department of Energy to test the ability of hydrogen fuel cells to reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously lowering costs in Fed Ex’s enormous fleet of delivery trucks by as much as 40 percent. Managed through a partnership that includes Smith Electric Vehicles and Plug Power, the $3 million project will equip 20 delivery trucks with lithium-ion batteries combined with a 10-kilowatt Plug Power hydrogen fuel cell system.[iv]

[i]Energy consumption per capita by end-use sector, 2011, U.S. Energy Information Administration., Retrieved from http://www.eia.gov/state/seds/data.cfm?incfile=/state/seds/sep_sum/html/rank_use_capita.html&sid=US.

[ii] Tennessee: State Profile and Energy Estimates, 2014, U.S. Energy Information Administration., Retrieved from http://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=TN#tabs-2

[iii] Clean Energy in My State: Tennessee Residential Energy Consumption, 2010. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Retrieved from http://www.eere.energy.gov/states.

[iv] Energy Department Invests Over $7 Million to Commercialize Cost-Effective Hydrogen and Fuel Cell. Energy.Gov. U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved from Technologies http://energy.gov/articles/energy-department-invests-over-7-million-commercialize-cost-effective-hydrogen-and-fuel.