Sacramento Ñ The California Energy Commission has given the nod to a research and development roadmap aimed at assisting California refineries reduce electricity consumption.
Voting 3-0 Wednesday, the Energy Commission approved a $43,000 contract with Energetics Incorporated, a Maryland-based consulting firm. The terms of the contract call for Energetics to help the Commission design and conduct a workshop to ascertain energy issues and priorities unique to the refining industry in California. The idea is to create a plan for future research and development that could help refineries in the state implement energy-efficient technologies.
The January 2004 workshop will gather input from refinery engineers, energy or facilities managers, and consultants and research institutions familiar with the refinery processes. Because California's environmental regulations and petroleum product mix differ from other states, research and development focus on California refineries needs a separate appraisal.
In California, refineries are the largest industrial consumers of electricity. Based on year 2000 figures, refineries while converting crude oil to gasoline and other petroleum products, consumed 6.2 gigawatt hours of electricity. They are also the second largest industrial users of natural gas, consuming at least 1.4 billion therms a year.
The need for energy efficient measures in the refinery business is dictated by increasing electricity use. California refineries will consume more electricity to reduce the sulfur content in gasoline and replace the additive MTBE with ethanol in California's gasoline supply by the end of this year.
"Given the oil industry's enormous consumption of electricity and natural gas, there is a critical need to facilitate more energy efficiency in refineries," said Energy Commissioner James D. Boyd. "Providing a plan for future research and development that could potentially reduce energy demand and improve process efficiency will help prevent future energy crises in the state."
The California workshop will pinpoint energy and environmental issues affecting only California refineries and will build upon and support, but not duplicate previous national technology roadmap activities conducted under the State Industries of the Future (SIOF) initiative. The initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Energy targets industries that use energy heavily. These include the steel, chemical, mining and refinery industries.
Funding for Energetics is part of a $185,000 grant awarded by the DOE's SIOF program to the Commission's Public Interest Energy Research Program in 2002. Energetics was specified by name by the DOE grant to conduct the workshop because it has performed similar work for the DOE on a national level.