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Research Highlights

Berkeley Lab to Lead U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center

Mark Levine

Berkeley Lab scientist Mark Levine, head and founder of the China Energy Group.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been chosen to lead a consortium for a U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) on building energy efficiency. The Center will develop technologies for low-energy residential and commercial buildings, work on technology commercialization, and research how behavior affects building energy use.

The CERC will receive $12.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy over five years. Consortium partners will match that amount, to provide at least $25 million in total U.S. funding, and the Center's Chinese counterparts will contribute an additional $25 million. The consortium's seven research partners are: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Natural Resources Defense Council (Beijing branch), ICF International (Beijing branch), National Association of State Energy Offices, Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and University of California, Davis.

The Center will also receive more than $16 million of in-kind resources (primarily research staff) and cash over a five-year period from its industrial partners, who include Dow Chemical Company, General Electric, Honeywell, Schneider Electric, Saint-Gobain, Bentley, Pegasus Investment Advisors, Climate Master, and several other organizations.

For more information:

Wind Energy Paper Receives ARES Award

A conference paper, "Wind Energy Facilities and Residential Properties: The Effect of Proximity and View on Sales Prices," has won the American Real Estate Society (ARES) 2010 award for "Real Estate Sustainability" sponsored by the NAIOP Research Foundation. ARES is dedicated to producing and disseminating knowledge related to real estate decision making and the functioning of real estate markets.

The paper's authors are Ben Hoen, Ryan Wiser, and Peter Cappers of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division; Mark Thayer, of San Diego State; and Gautam Sethi, of Bard College. The paper is based on the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report, The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis. [PDF]

Berkeley Lab Researcher Receives GridWeek Leadership Award

Sila Kiliccote

Sila Kiliccote

Sila Kiliccote, a researcher in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Environmental Energy Technologies Division, has received the 2010 GridWeek Acceleration Award. She was presented the award for her research and work in promoting standards-based secure communications for new Smart Grid demand response applications. The award committee cited Kiliccote for her "leadership, vision, non-traditional approach, ability to create step function versus incremental change, and willingness to take risk." GridWeek is an annual gathering of Smart Grid stakeholders whose goal is "to explore Smart Grid's impact on the economy, utility infrastructure, consumers and the environment while answering the industry's most pressing questions."

More information about the GridWeek Leadership Awards.

DOE Proposes Higher Efficiency Standards for Refrigerators


Continuing a 40-year trend of improving refrigerator energy efficiency, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new efficiency standard for this essential home appliance. The standard, proposed to take effect in 2014, was negotiated between environmentalists, consumer advocates, and manufacturers. As proposed, it could save consumers as much as $18.6 billion over thirty years, and would also eliminate the need for up to 4.2 gigawatts of generating capacity by 2043—equivalent to eight to nine coal-fired power plants nationwide. The savings would reduce cumulative carbon dioxide emissions by 305 million metric tons between 2014 and 2043.

The Environmental Energy Technologies Division's (EETD) Energy Efficiency Standards Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory contributed significantly to DOE's technical and economic analysis, including the analysis of life cycle costs and consumer national impacts. This is the third 25% or greater increase in efficiency from U.S. standards (1993 and 2001 were the other implementation dates). Energy Analysis Department Head James McMahon says, "a new top-freezer refrigerator in 2014 will consume less than 22% of the electricity annually of a new refrigerator sold in 1974."

For more information see the DOE press release.

EETD Researchers Contribute to UC San Diego's Efficient DC-Power Data Center

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), in partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute and numerous high-technology private-sector manufacturers, have pioneered a direct current (DC) technology for data centers that eliminates the need for multiple conversions between AC to DC power, which are commonly used in AC-based data centers.

Wire Rack

(Photo: William Tschudi)

The technology is being used at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), which is operating a set of servers in their campus data center on 380-volt DC (direct current) power. The new modular data center's sensors and other instruments measure the energy efficiency of information and communication technologies, and the infrastructure that supports it, to help researchers build greener IT systems and software.

William Tschudi, Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) Program Manager explains the project's significance. "We're pleased to be part of this project to implement DC-power technology in a major, high-profile university. The DC power approach offers many advantages over traditional AC-powered systems. It eliminates several power conversions, and it will involve less equipment, which will improve reliability because there are fewer potential points of failure. It should also reduce capital costs and will help operators save energy and money. Power quality issues should also improve with the use of the DC power technology."

Data Center

Interior of the GreenLight Instrument, with Berkeley Lab's Bill Tschudi (at left in distance) and other engineers during the powering-up of the all-DC energy system. (Photo: UC San Diego)

The project is one of the first U.S. installations to use system components specifically manufactured for this 380-volt DC power system topology. Switching to an all-DC power distribution is expected to increase the "computing work per watt," a barometer of energy efficiency in computing environments. In addition to significant energy savings, other potential benefits include improved power quality, reduced cooling needs, higher equipment densities, reduced heat-related failures, improved reliability (from fewer components), and greater ease of use of renewable sources.

The project is a strategic partnership between UCSD and its partners, including several members of the EMerge Alliance, an open-industry association leading the adoption of safe DC power distribution in commercial buildings through the development of standards. The EMerge Alliance is developing a 380-volt DC power standard for inclusion in its hybrid alternating current (AC) and DC microgrid platform. This open architecture focuses on reducing or eliminating inefficient AC to DC conversions that occur between power sources and digital devices in commercial buildings by converting and distributing power in DC form. Berkeley Lab is a member of the EMerge Alliance, and Tschudi is a member of EMerge Alliance's Advisory Council.

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