CEC Spending Almost 10 Million on Renewable Energy Research

Always ahead of the game, California is known for its progressive renewable portfolio standards and robust solar growth. The California Energy Commission (CEC) continued that commitment to renewables this week with the awarding of nearly US $10 million towards research and development activities on various renewable energy technologies.

A big portion of the funding, nearly $2 million, will go to the University of California, Davis to develop and demonstrate whole building retrofit solutions for existing multi-tenant light commercial buildings, such as strip malls, small office parks and mixed-use developments. Research on retrofitting existing commercial buildings – many of which have outdated technologies – is needed and represents a promising opportunity in reaching the state’s greenhouse gas and energy efficiency targets, the commission said.

The Commission also approved a $400,000 grant to Utility Savings and Refund, LLC of Irvine for a project to demonstrate the benefits of using energy storage systems in conjunction with an on-site fuel cell power generation. Another $2.5 million for the project is coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $1.2 million from the California PUC. The demonstration site is the Dublin San Ramon Services District’s Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility in Pleasanton. Integrating specific rechargeable flow battery (i.e vanadium redox) energy storage systems with fuel cells is an approach that can benefit a number of energy-intensive industries and institutions including colleges, universities, and military bases, according to the commission.

Federspiel Controls of El Cerrito will receive $250,000 to help demonstrate and field test energy efficient cooling control technologies at data centers.

In a separate announcement, the CEC said that it is awarding six grants worth almost $6 million for renewable transportation initiatives including advancing the manufacture of biofuels and the use of electric vehicles.

In biofuel production:

  • $1,499,179 is going to Mendota Bioenergy LLC to test the feasibility of converting sugar beets and such agricultural waste as almond orchard prunings into several kinds of transportation fuel, green electricity and other green products.
  • $1,315,800 to Clean World Partners, a Sacramento-based company managing anaerobic digestion systems that diverts organic waste from landfills and converts it into clean transportation fuel and reusable by-products.
  • $1,229,966 to G4 Insights, Inc. to test the feasibility of creating pipeline-quality natural gas from forest waste.

For electric vehicles components, 1,197,064 is going to Wrightspeed, Inc. a Silicon Valley company that plans to manufacture digital drive systems and retrofit kits for commercial trucks. With a digital drive system installed, class 3 to class 6 medium- to heavy-duty trucks could use plug-in electric power for the first 40 miles of operation.

And in biodiesel production:

  • $886,815 is going to to Santa Barbara-based Biodiesel Industries to build and test a system that enhances the operation of existing biodiesel plants. The new technology uses the waste materials and co-products of conventional biodiesel production to create nutrients and carbon dioxide for algaculture, and to generate enough renewable heat and power to run the biodiesel unit.
  • Finally, $250,000 is going to Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo to conduct a pilot-scale demonstration of a technology that produces oil-rich algae while simultaneously treating wastewater.

Many of the projects will leverage additional private funding.  More details about the projects that received funding can be found at this link.


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