ORNL, UT technologies included in latest “R&D 100 Awards” finalists

(Originally published on Teknovation.biz)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Tennessee (UT) are among finalists that R&D Magazine has just announced for its annual “R&D 100 Awards.”

At times described as the equivalent of the Academy Awards, the recognition, now in its 56th year, have long been considered the most globally prestigious recognition of invention and innovation. The awards recognize 100 of the top innovations across five categories: analytical/test, IT/electrical, mechanical devices/materials, process/prototyping, and software/services.

The finalists were selected by an independent panel of more than 50 judges representing R&D leaders in a variety of fields.

ORNL was named as the primary or sole developer on six of the recognized technologies and was a co-developer on two more including something named the “Mobile Universal Grid Analyzer” where UT was the primary developer.

Read more here.

“Electric Mass Transit as an Option for Urban Mobility” panel discussion reviews policy issues, smart mobility case studies

A panel held at the Baker Center Toyota Auditorium in Knoxville covered a variety of topics regarding electric mass transit and its potential in the United States.

Discussions ranged from technology and connectivity concerns to examining smart mobility case studies. Policy options and issues were also reviewed, as well as evaluating future visions and groundtruthing.

The two day panel, open to the public, analyzed the costs, benefits, and barriers associated with electrified transit and intelligent transportation system technologies while also addressing what local governments, utilities, and transit agencies must consider in making the switch.

With the emergence of these technologies expanding, best practices were also identified through smart mobility case studies and further analysis was conducted and discussed at what can be done at the local, state, and federal levels to provide momentum for these technologies.

“Electric Mass Transit as an Option for Urban Mobility” was jointed hosted by the Baker Center, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

To view the recording of the June 20 discussions, click here

To view the recording of the June 21 discussions, click here

UT Earns Top EPA Award

The University of Tennessee has received a 2017 green power leadership award from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The annual awards recognize America’s leading green power users for their commitment to advancing the nation’s voluntary green power market.

Green power is electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power helps accelerate the development of those sources in the United States and advance the American green power market.

The EPA presented UT Sustainability Manager Preston Jacobsen an Excellence in Green Power Use Award at the 2017 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in New York City in October.

“This is UT’s top environmental and sustainability award to date, and we look forward to achieving a higher standing in the years to come as our campus moves toward a more sustainable place to learn, live, and work,” Jacobsen said.

In addition, UT ranks 35th on EPA’s National Top 100 list, and first on the Top 30 College and University list. Each list highlights EPA Green Power Partners using the most renewable energy annually as of July 2017.

“Being honored among the nation’s top green power users is affirmation that our program is among the nation’s best, but to receive this latest award is quite an accomplishment for our university,” Jacobsen said. “It places UT among the ranks of Google, Apple, and Microsoft as organizations who not only champion sustainability but put these technologies into action.”

UT was one of only eight organizations nationwide to receive an Excellence in Green Power Use Award.

UT is currently purchasing nearly 246 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough to meet 95 percent of the organization’s electricity use.

UT became an EPA Green Power Partner in 2005.

Read the complete story here.

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.

America’s largest companies save $1.1 billion annually through advanced energy initiatives

Now we’re talking. A new report released last week found that 53 Fortune 100 companies reporting on climate and energy targets are collectively saving $1.1 billion annually through their emission reduction and renewable energy initiatives – which certainly qualify as advanced energy.

Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies are increasing the demand for cleaner, more efficient sources of energy. The states that provide not only the energy source, but also the technologies and the workforce will win. Why not Tennessee?

215 companies in the Fortune 500 have set targets in one of three categories and will be looking for ways to meet them: 1) greenhouse gas reduction commitments, 2) improving energy efficiency and 3) procuring more renewable energy. Many of these companies have Tennessee ties (including FedEx and General Motors) or would be welcome additions to our state.

The latest report adds to our evidence that Tennessee’s advanced energy sector is poised for a period of sustained growth. The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) was created to help facilitate this growth by championing the use and manufacture of advanced energy technologies as an economic development strategy.

The Advanced Energy Now 2014 Market Report, published by Advanced Energy Economy, indicated strong growth globally and nationwide in the advanced energy market. Globally, advanced energy represents a $1.1 trillion-dollar market. With estimated revenues in 2013 of $169 billion, the U.S. now represents 15 percent of the world market, up from 11 percent in 2011.

TAEBC sees in these national trends an enormous opportunity for Tennessee. The opportunity includes, through the adoption of affordable technologies, a chance to grow Tennessee’s economy.

The University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the state’s expanding automobile sector (as well as other key clusters) provide Tennessee with unique assets that together offer an unparalleled platform for collaboration, innovation, testing and implementation of advanced energy technologies.

Our goal is to help business and government view Tennessee’s advanced energy assets and challenges as an emerging sector that will play an increasing role in the state’s economic development.