The state of California is continuing to lead the rest of the U.S. in clean energy research and development further fueling their economy. Other states and even countries look to California for inspiration and experience in moving from a fossil fuel economy.
The California Energy Commission approved $21 million in grants for energy innovation and efficiency programs at its monthly business meeting last week. Almost a dozen innovative projects – including one to convert forest residues to electricity and another to turn dairy manure into bio-gas – were funded through four key grant and loan programs.
Grant recipients include:
Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC)
EPIC is a multi-year, research investment program focused on electricity-related innovations and bringing clean energy ideas to the marketplace. Grant recipients include:
Electric Power Research Institute, Inc., Palo Alto – $1 million to develop a tool to assess costs and benefits to help guide the optimization of energy storage projects.
American Biogas Electric Company Lakeview Farms Dairy, Bakersfield – $4 million to install and demonstrate a covered lagoon digester that converts dairy manure into biogas to generate renewable electricity and to prepare a 1-megawatt generator platform capable of being expanded by using biogas from neighboring dairies.
West Star North Dairy, Buttonwillow – $4 million to install and demonstrate a double-cell covered lagoon dairy digester system that will allow the quantity of wastewater to vary.
West Biofuels LLC, Woodland – $2 million to develop a modular biomass gasification system with a high-efficiency lean-burn engine that can convert forest residues into renewable grid power.
Sunfolding Inc., San Francisco – $1 million to develop a more reliable solar tracker that helps reduce the cost of solar by lowering component costs. The project also received a $1.8 million Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy grant in 2013.
InnoSepra, LLC, Cupertino – $1.3 million to demonstrate the company’s biogas upgrader technology and its feasibility as a biogas and landfill gas pre-treatment for combined heat and power.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – $1.5 million for research to match locally available waste biomass resources in California with grid, industrial, building power and waste heat needs.
Energy Conservation Assistance Act (ECAA)
ECAA provides zero- or low-interest loans to public entities for energy efficiency or energy generation projects. Loans are paid back within 20 years using savings from reduced energy costs. The loan recipient is:
County Of Alameda – $3 million at 1 percent interest to install roof-mounted photovoltaic panels on the Santa Rita Jail. The project will save the county more than $435,000 in utility costs annually, and the loan will be paid back in about seven years.
Energy Conservation Assistance Act-Education (ECAA-ED)
ECAA-Ed, funded by the California Clean Energy Jobs Fund (Proposition 39), provides no-interest loans for energy projects to community college districts and educational agencies such as K-12 districts and charter schools. Loans are paid back within 20 years using energy cost savings. The loan recipient is:
Esparto Unified School District – $1.4 million to install photovoltaic panels at three schools and energy efficient lights at various sites. The project will save the district about $91,652 in utility costs annually, and the loan will be paid back in about 16 years.
Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP)
The Energy Commission approved $2 million through an interagency agreement to develop and administer an electric vehicle charging station financing program for the California Pollution Control Financing Authority. The agreement is funded through the ARFVTP, which supports technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on petroleum-based fuels.
The California Energy Commission also approved the 2014 Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) annual report, which highlights energy research, development and demonstration projects funded through PIER, provides an evaluation of their success and an overview of ratepayer benefits. The Energy Commission has invested more than $779 million for energy research and development through PIER, leveraging its investment to attract more than $1.3 billion in match funding.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.