October 10, 2014 Capitol Update

In this issue:

 

DOD COMPETITION TO LAUNCH NEW MANUFACTURING INSTITUTE

The Defense Department is sponsoring a competition that will provide up to $110 million in federal funds to launch an Institute for Manufacturing Innovation, or IMI, whose work involves photonics — the science and engineering applications of light.

In photonics, light is used to capture and display images, convert energy, and detect, transmit, store and process information. Integrated photonics is an important innovation that simplifies optical system design, reduces the size of components and power used, and improves reliability.

The Integrated Photonics IMI would be the fourth DoD-led manufacturing institute to be announced since the pilot project was launched in August 2012.  Beginning in early November, when DoD officials release a broad agency announcement for the competition, the department will collect proposals from teams of nonprofit organizations, universities and private companies to head the institute. The $110 million available over five years must be matched by at least $110 million in nonfederal commitments.

The award for the Integrated Photonics IMI should be announced early next summer, and the institute will have five years to become self-sustaining.

In addition to private companies of all sizes, universities and community colleges, the new IMI will have federal partners such as the Commerce and Energy departments, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Science Foundation.

For additional information on the announcement, including how to submit an application, please visit http://ppec.asme.org/.

 

DOE ISSUES DRAFT LOAN GUARANTEE SOLICITATION FOR ADVANCED NUCLEAR ENERGY PROJECTS

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a draft solicitation that would provide up to $12.6 billion in loan guarantees for Advanced Nuclear Energy Projects. Once finalized, these loan guarantees will provide financing to help commercialize advanced nuclear energy technologies, supporting projects that are often unable to secure full commercial financing due to their scale and use of innovative technology. This draft solicitation represents another step in DOE's commitment to help overcome the financial barriers to the deployment of next generation technologies that will diversify America's clean energy portfolio.

Authorized by Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Advanced Nuclear Energy Projects Solicitation would provide loan guarantees to support construction of nuclear energy and front-end nuclear projects in the United States that reduce, avoid, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. While any project that meets the eligibility requirements may apply, the Department has identified four key technology areas of interest in the draft solicitation: advanced nuclear reactors, small modular reactors, upgrades and uprates at existing facilities, and front-end nuclear projects.

The Department will consider public feedback provided during the 30-day public comment period in defining the scope of the final solicitation. The draft solicitation can be found online at: http://www.energy.gov/lpo

Once the solicitation is finalized, the Department's Loan Programs Office (LPO) will have open solicitations in four areas, including the $8 billion Advanced Fossil Energy Projects Solicitation, the $4 billion Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Solicitation and the $16 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program. Additional information about the aforementioned solicitations can be found at: http://energy.gov/lpo/loan-programs-office

 

EPA RELEASES GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS DATA FROM LARGE FACILITIES

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its fourth year of Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data, detailing greenhouse gas pollution trends and emissions broken down by industrial sector, geographic region and individual facilities. In 2013, reported emissions from large industrial facilities were 20 million metric tons higher than the prior year, or 0.6 percent, driven largely by an increase in coal use for power generation.

The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program collects facility-level greenhouse gas data from major industrial sources across the United States, including power plants, oil and gas production and refining, iron and steel mills and landfills. The program also collects data on the increasing production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) predominantly used in refrigeration and air conditioning.

Over 8,000 large-emitters reported direct greenhouse gas emissions to the program in 2013, representing approximately 50 percent of total U.S. emissions. The data from these facilities show that in 2013:

  • Power plants remained the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with over 1,550 facilities emitting over 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, roughly 32 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. Power plant emissions have declined by 9.8 percent since 2010, but there was an uptick in emissions of 13 million metric tons in 2013 due to an increased use of coal.
  • Petroleum and natural gas systems were the second largest stationary source, reporting 224 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, a decrease of one percent from the previous year.
  • Reported methane emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems sector have decreased by 12 percent since 2011, with the largest reductions coming from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells, which have decreased by 73 percent during that period. EPA expects to see further emission reductions as the agency's 2012 standards for the oil and gas industry become fully implemented.
  • Refineries were the third largest stationary source, reporting 177 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, up 1.6 percent from the previous year.
  • Reported emissions from other large sources in the industrial and waste sectors increased by seven million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution, up one percent from 2012.

To review key facts and figures and explore Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program Data, please visit: www.epa.gov/ghgreporting/

 

IEA REPORT: SOLAR ENERGY COULD BE THE LARGEST SOURCE OF ELECTRICITY BY MID-CENTURY

The sun could be the world's largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear, according to a pair of reports issued recently by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The two IEA technology roadmaps show how solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate up to 16 percent of the world's electricity by 2050. Solar thermal electricity (STE) from concentrating solar power (CSP) plants could provide an additional 11 percent. Combined, these solar technologies could prevent the emission of more than six billion tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2050 – that is more than all current energy-related CO2 emissions from the United States or almost all of the direct emissions from the transport sector worldwide today.

The two reports do not represent a forecast. As with other IEA technology roadmaps, they detail the expected technology improvement targets and the policy actions required to achieve that vision by 2050, highlighting priority actions and milestones for governments, research and industry stakeholders. A central message in both publications deals with the need for clear, credible and consistent signals from policy makers, which can lower deployment risks to investors and inspire confidence.

The two documents underline the complementary role of the two technologies. With 137 GW of capacity installed worldwide at the end of 2013 and adding up to 100 MW each day, PV deployment so far has been much faster than that of STE, mainly thanks to massive cost reductions. Under the scenario described in the roadmaps, most of the growth of solar electricity comes from PV until 2030. However, when reaching shares between five percent and 15 percent of annual electricity generation, PV starts to lose value in wholesale markets. Massive-scale STE deployment takes off at this stage thanks to CSP plants' built-in thermal storage, which allows for generation of electricity when demand peaks in late afternoon and in the evening, thus complementing PV generation.

To download Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy, please click on http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/technology-roadmap-solar-photovoltaic-energy---2014-edition.html

To download Technology Roadmap: Solar Thermal Electricity, go to http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/technology-roadmap-solar-thermal-electricity---2014-edition.html

 

To download the presentation at the launch of the reports, visit http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/speeches/140929_SolarRoadmaps_Slides.pdf

 

TECH COMPANIES INTRODUCE EFFORT TO AIM TO INTRODUCE CODING TO 100 MILLION STUDENTS

In an effort to attract more diverse programmers in the future tech workforce, the CEOs of two dozen big tech companies, including Microsoft and Google, have recently launched a campaign with non-profit Code.org to introduce computer science to 100 million students world-wide.

To do this, the companies have agreed to promote Hour of Code, a campaign that encourages students to try an hour of computer coding with an online tutorial, as well as participate in a crowd-sourced campaign to raise $5 million to be used to train teachers in schools that do not offer computer science classes.

Hour of Code will take place during Computer Science Education Week, which will be held December 8-14, 2014. Approximately 40 million people have participated in Hour of Code since the program's inception last year.

This new initiative comes after many tech companies voluntarily released data showing their workforces are heavily male, white and Asian, and the tech sector's need for greater diversity. Education at the K-12 level is a key factor in getting more girls and under-represented racial minorities studying computer science.

According to code.org, only 10% of American schools teach computer science, and in 27 states computer science cannot be applied to math or science requirements.

In addition, the numbers of female or minority computer science students are low. Of the 22,000 U.S. students who took the advanced-placement computer science test in 2012, about 4,200 were girls and fewer than were 3,000 African-American or Hispanic.

The full article on this project can be found at http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/tech-companies-hope-to-introduce-coding-to-100-million-students/.

For additional information about the initiative or the Hour of Code campaign, please visit: http://code.org/.

 

NASA EXPANDS COMMERCIAL SPACE PROGRAM, REQUESTS PROPOSALS FOR SECOND ROUND OF CARGO RESUPPLY CONTRACTS FOR INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

The National  Aeronautics  and Space Administration (NASA) has released a request for proposals (RFP) for the next round of contracts for private-sector companies to deliver experiments and supplies to the orbiting laboratory.

Under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 RFP, NASA intends to award contracts with one or more companies for six or more flights per contract.  As with current resupply flights, these missions would launch from U.S. spaceports, and the contracted services would include logistical and research cargo delivery and return to and from the space station through fiscal year 2020, with the option to purchase additional launches through 2024.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration decided to extend the life of the International Space Station until at least 2024. The ability to continue commercial deliveries to the station is critical to continuing the use of the station as a platform for discovery that improves life on Earth, expands the commercial use of low-Earth orbit, and helps advance America’s journey to Mars through high-quality scientific research and technology development.

This RFP is open to companies able to demonstrate safe, reliable launch and rendezvous capabilities with the station. The contract will fulfill NASA's need to procure cargo delivery services for pressurized and unpressurized cargo delivery, disposal, return, or any combination, to the space station using U.S. commercial carriers after the initial Commercial Resupply Service contracts conclude.

Proposals are due November 14th. The awarded contracts will be firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity. NASA anticipates making a selection in May 2015.

A link to the RFP is available on the “Research and Development” issues webpage on the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/research-and-development/

 

NIST RELEASES FINAL VERSION OF SMART GRID FRAMEWORK, UPDATE 3.0

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published its NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 3.0, a document that reflects advances in smart grid technologies and developments from NIST’s collaborative work with industry stakeholders. Revisions to its guidelines for smart grid cybersecurity are available as well.

The 3.0 framework updates the plan for transforming the nation's aging electric power system into an interoperable smart grid—a network that will integrate information and communication technologies with the power-delivery infrastructure, enabling two-way flows of energy and communications. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 established a goal to modernize the nation’s electricity system and assigned to NIST the primary responsibility to coordinate development of a framework to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and systems.

The document first appeared in January 2010 and was last updated in February 2012 to its 2.0 version. The 3.0 version was needed in part because of recent progress in grid modernization, including the following developments:

  • In the past few years, the nation has seen wide deployment of smart electric meters as well as devices called phasor measurement units. These devices, also called synchrophasors, help engineers monitor the flow of electricity at various points in the grid to better maintain grid stability and increase grid efficiency. The 3.0 framework addresses these deployments.
  • NIST has identified new standards that support interoperability of the smart grid. This list now includes 74 standards and protocols, including seven standards not listed in the 2.0 framework.
  • Significant updates have been made to the reference architecture model of the smart grid. This model, which offers a broad picture of how the fundamental elements of the smart grid connect and communicate, has now been harmonized with a similar model being developed by the European Community. The updated model reflects the growing importance of “distributed energy resources,” which include nontraditional sources such as customer-owned solar and wind power systems.
  • New developments and publications in smart grid cybersecurity are documented in the 3.0 framework. In particular, the role of smart grid cybersecurity is discussed in the context of cybersecurity of other critical infrastructures.
  • Testing and certification is taking on increased urgency as industry reaches consensus on the underlying standards for the smart grid, and the 3.0 framework includes an expanded discussion of this topic. Version 2 of the “Interoperability Process Reference Manual” provides a guide for those setting up new test programs or improving existing ones.

The framework 3.0 document is accessible on the “Energy” issues webpage on the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/

NIST also has published a revision to its Guidelines for Smart Grid Cybersecurity (NISTIR 7628), the original version of which appeared in 2010. NISTIR 7628 Rev. 1 updates include new sections describing the relationship of smart grid cybersecurity to the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, cyber-physical attacks, cybersecurity testing and certification, and address regulatory changes involving privacy.

NISTIR 7628 Rev. 1 is available on the ASME PPEC at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/

 

The articles contained in Capitol Update are not positions of ASME or any of its sub-entities, unless specifically noted as such. This publication is designed to inform ASME members about issues of concern being debated and discussed in the halls of congress, in the states and in the federal agencies.

 

ASME Government Relations
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Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations

  • Melissa Carl covers public policy-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and diversity issues for ASME. She can be reached at carlm@asme.org
  • Paul Fakes covers public policy-related energy, standards and environmental issues for ASME. He can be reached at fakesp@asme.org
  • Roy Chrobocinski covers public policy-related research and development (R&D) and manufacturing issues for ASME. He can be reached at chrobocinski@asme.org