For Immediate Release: July 11, 2012
Media Contact: Sandy Louey - 916-654-4989

MEDIA ADVISORY

Energy Commission Awards Nearly $1.2 Million for Energy Research Projects


SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission today awarded $1,154,230 to spur research for projects including one improving climate change projections used for energy forecasts.

Funds for the 10 projects come from the Commission's Public Interest Research Project (PIER) program.

Commissioners approved $300,000 to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego to better understand why there are differences in regional climate model projections for California and how it impacts hydropower generation forecasting.

"Climate change will have significant impacts on energy supply and demand. This research will help quantify the effects for energy forecasting," said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller.

The research will build upon work at Scripps that the Commission funded. The project will assist the Commission's energy forecasting activities, which use climate projections to estimate the impact on peak electricity demand. The findings will also help local and state policy makers tackle climate change issues.

The remaining nine projects are from PIER's Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) program. The program provides money to small businesses, non-profits, individuals, and academic institutions to conduct research that establishes the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts. These grants are capped at $95,000.

The EISG projects approved were:

  • Next Energy Technologies, Inc. will receive $95,000 for a project using soluble organic small molecules to increase the lifetime and reliability while lowering the cost of photovoltaics.
  • Engineering Economics, Inc. was awarded $95,000 to study enhanced cooling towers to cool buildings. The project would use heat exchanged between the cool, moist exiting air and hot, dry entering air to lower cold water temperature or reduce fan power and evaporative water consumption.
  • Charles Vann will receive $95,000 to design a folded electromagnetic coil wind turbine generator that is more cost-effective than other wind turbine generators in terms of the power-to-cost ratio.
  • Brian Moffat will receive $95,000 for a spindrift wave energy device that would generate electrical power from a wave-driven hydrokinetic turbine embedded in a submerged tube.
  • UC Davis was awarded $95,000 to look at the feasibility of an all-in-one approach to produce biofuels from feedstock in a single step and using one reactor. The project would study this approach by converting cellulose to ethanol.
  • San Diego State University was awarded $95,000 for a system that would transfer protons to serve as catalysts in converting water to oxygen. The project is part of a system that would covert water to hydrogen fuel and oxygen using sunlight.
  • Physical Sciences Inc. will receive $95,000 to study laser-based, natural gas sensors to provide rapid warning about pipeline leaks.
  • UC Riverside was awarded $94,714 for an eco-routing navigation system for electrical vehicles (EV). The project would calculate travel routes for electrical vehicles using the least amount of energy so that the EV range would be extended.
  • UC Riverside will receive $94,516 to investigate a new process to produce substituted natural gas from wet organic wastes.

The Commission's PIER program supports public interest research and development that helps improve the quality of life in California by bringing environmentally safe, reliable, and affordable energy services and products to the marketplace. Funds will be paid out to grantees upon receipt of invoices.



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The Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies.