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For Immediate Release: September 28, 2006
Media Contact: Adam Gottlieb - 916-654-4989

Energy Commission Awards Renewable Energy Research Funding
Projects Include Improving Wind Energy, Solar, Energy Storage Cells


SACRAMENTO - Demonstrating its commitment to public interest energy research, the California Energy Commission has approved 10 grants totaling nearly $950,000 to universities, research facilities, and energy consultants. The grantees were selected from 63 competitive applications and include such technologies as wind turbine design, heat pump systems, and solar cell development.

"By funding this energy research we are demonstrating California's competitive presence in scientific innovation and the Commission's commitment toward conserving energy through new technologies," said Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld.

Funding for the project comes from the Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program. The PIER program annually awards up to $62 million to conduct public interest energy research, development and demonstration projects. Of the 10 projects, six were renewable technology; two were building end use efficiency, and two seek to improve California's electricity infrastructure.

The PIER program's mission focuses research that improves the quality of life in California by providing environmentally sound, safe, reliable and affordable energy services and products. The program includes the full range of research, development, and demonstration activities that advance science or technology not adequately provided by competitive and regulated markets. The grants include:

  • $95,000 to Appa Renewable Energy Systems, Inc of Lake Forest (Orange County) for "smart blades" for improving efficiency of small wind turbines. Allows for wind turbines to operate at lower wind speeds better matched with small turbines with less noise.
  • $94,958 to Greenvolts, Inc. Berkeley (Alameda County), for the economical two-axis carousel tracker for concentrated photovoltaic power plants. This concept has the potential to better track the sun's rays than current technologies.
  • $95,000 to Primus Power of Orinda (Contra Costa County), for the prototype energy cell. This energy cell batter idea has the potential to provide higher reliability to the electricity infrastructure and reduce power outages due to back-up power failures.
  • $95,000 to Nanotron of San Diego (San Diego County), for the laser process facilitating solar cells that would improve their efficiency at a reduced cost.
  • $94,896 to Steven Winters Associates of Norwalk, Connecticut, for the building integrated damper to improve room comfort with evaporative cooling and potential lower customer electricity use.
  • $95,000 to University of California, Davis, for the nanoparticle-based catalysts used in solar hydrogen generation. This concept has the potential to produce hydrogen as a fuel to power automobiles or generate electricity.
  • $95,000 to University of California, Davis - Institute of Transportation Studies for the hydrogen enrichment of landfill gas for enhanced combustion. This project has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • $95,000 to Santa Clara University for the phase change material solar thermal storage system. This solar air conditioning project has the potential to reduce customer's electricity consumption cost.
  • $95,000 to Clarkson University of Potsdam, New York, for the use of plasma actuators to improve air flow over the blades of wind turbines allowing turbines to operate at lower and high wind speeds generating more electricity.
  • $95,000 to Purdue University of West Lafayette, Indiana for increasing the energy efficiency of vapor compression system by using "smart" and cost-effective compressors. This concept has the potential of reduced household electricity cost and consumption with the improvement of air conditioning compressors.

For more information on PIER, go to http://www.energy.ca.gov/pier/index.html

Created by the Legislature in 1974, the California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The Energy Commission has five major responsibilities: forecasting future energy needs and keeping historical energy data; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building standards; developing energy technologies and supporting renewable energy; an planning for and directing state response to energy emergency.

Members of the Energy Commission are: Chairman Jackalyne Pfannenstiel; Vice Chair James D. Boyd; Commissioners Jeffrey Byron; John Geesman; and Dr. Arthur H. Rosenfeld.

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