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Network World - Millions of dollars were laid out this year for all manner of energy research - from new biofuels and wind projects to better batteries and smartgrid cybersecurity programs.
There were other stories too, such as the X Prize Foundation's $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize that was awarded to three teams who developed super fuel-efficient vehicles capable of achieving 100 miles per gallon or the energy equivalent (MPGe). In the end it will be interesting to see how all that research manifests itself in real products and programs. Here is a look at some of the key energy stories this year.
U.S. offers $30 million for high-risk biofuel research
The U.S. Department of Energy in December announced $30 million for research projects that would develop advanced biofuels that could replace gasoline or diesel without requiring special upgrades or changes to the vehicle or fueling infrastructure. The $30 million would be spent over the next four years to support as many as five "traditionally high-risk biofuels projects," such as converting biomass into biofuels and bioproducts to be eventually used for hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals.
US delivers record 1.7B supercomputing hours to boost energy research
The U.S. DoE awarded a massive amount of its world-class supercomputing time to 57 research projects looking at everything from biofuels and climate change to nuclear power and lithium air batteries. The DOE is awarding time on its Cray XT5 "Jaguar" at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the IBM Blue Gene/P "Intrepid" at Argonne National Laboratory. Jaguar's computational capacity is roughly equivalent to 109,000 laptops all working together to solve the same problem. Intrepid is roughly equivalent to 26,000 laptops, the DOE stated.
IBM, European Union team to swat electronic vampires
IBM and a number of European academic and corporate scientists in October announced a project known as Sleeper that aims to reduce the energy used by everything from mobile phones to laptops and televisions to supercomputers by 10-fold. The problem? The enormous amount of electricity sucked up by computer equipment in standby mode. In the European Union it is estimated that the vampire effect of standby power already accounts for about 10 % of the electricity used in homes and offices of the member states. By 2020 it is expected that electricity consumption in standby/off-mode will rise to 49 terrawatt hours per year - nearly equivalent to the annual electricity consumption for Austria, Czech Republic and Portugal combined, according to a press release from IBM.
Google wants to control wind energy
Google in October said it wants a big part of the energy that could be generated from offshore wind farms. The company said it inked "an agreement to invest in the development of a backbone transmission project off the Mid-Atlantic coast that offers a solid financial return while helping to accelerate offshore wind development - so it's both good business and good for the environment. The new project can enable the creation of thousands of jobs, improve consumer access to clean energy sources and increase the reliability of the Mid-Atlantic region's existing power grid."