For Immediate Release: February 25, 2015
Media Contact: Michael A. Ward - 916-654-4989

MEDIA ADVISORY

Energy Commission adopts report on how state will transform
transportation to meet climate and clean air goals
Also approves nearly $16 million for building efficiency research projects
and $11 million for biofuels production

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission adopted its 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update, which outlines, among many things, how the state is working to transform the transportation system to zero- and near-zero technologies and fuels to meet its climate and clean air goals during its business meeting today.

The Energy Commission also approved almost $16 million in research grants to help develop the next generation of energy efficient technologies for commercial and residential buildings, $11 million for projects to convert feedstock and waste into biofuels and about $900,000 for natural gas innovations.

IEPR

The IEPR, produced by the Energy Commission every two years and updated in alternate years, assesses major energy issues facing the state. This is the first IEPR to focus primarily on transportation. It finds that California is making good progress in transforming the state's transportation system to a low carbon, zero emission transportation system with nearly 120,000 plug-in electric vehicles on California’s roads, a growing hydrogen fuel cell market and significant biofuels investments.

The report also looks at trends in oil-by-rail transport, provides annual forecasts for electricity demand, gives updates on the energy infrastructure in Southern California and discusses how to further incorporate environmental information into renewable energy planning.

Building Efficiency Research

Building efficiency research projects are funded through the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program, a multi-year, research investment program focused on electricity-related innovations and bringing clean energy ideas to the marketplace. Recipients included:

  • University of California, Berkeley
    • $2.9 million to develop new design and operation tools for radiant cooling and heating systems.
    • $2.5 million to develop low-cost, low-power calibration-free sensors for measuring room airflow in buildings and volumetric air flow in heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
    • $1 million to research DC and AC/DC hybrid power applications in buildings to help achieve zero net energy goals.
    • $2.5 million to evaluate and develop new solar reflective "cool wall” technologies that can reduce heat load, cut energy use, reduce peak power demand and improve air quality.
    • $1 million to develop alternative attic construction practices that contribute to lower residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning system energy consumption.
    • $1.9 million to develop control systems that provide energy efficient lighting tailored to the needs of building occupants and allows integration into whole-building control and automation systems.
  • The California Lighting Technology Center at UC Davis – $3 million to design and develop innovative light-emitting diode (LED) solutions for screw-type replacement lamps, linear tubular replacement lamps and spectrally optimized dedicated LED fixtures. The research will focus on quality, performance, longevity and cost effectiveness.
  • Bira Energy Inc., Pleasanton – $1 million to research and develop new approaches to home attic design using construction techniques and materials that perform similarly to ducts in a conditioned space but with lower incremental cost compared to typical methods for sealed insulated attics.

Biofuels

Biofuels projects are funded through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which supports technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on petroleum-based fuels. Recipients included:

  • Aemetis Inc., Cupertino – $3 million to convert grain sorghum feedstock into 9 million gallons of low-carbon transportation ethanol fuel and to evaluate the potential for developing in-state supplies of grain sorghum as a feedstock that will continue to reduce the carbon intensity of fuel production.
  • UrbanX Renewables Group Inc., Long Beach – $5 million to construct a biorefinery in Southgate capable of producing at least 7.5 million gallons of renewable diesel fuel annually.
  • City of Napa – $3 million to modify its materials diversion facility allowing it to convert 25,000 tons of organic waste annually into 328,000 diesel gallons equivalent of renewable natural gas (RNG) and to install an RNG refueling station to supply its fleet of waste and recycling trucks.

ARFVTP funding was also used to provide $128,000 to the Woodland Joint Unified School District to install 16 plug-in electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city. The charging stations will be free to the public.

Natural Gas

Natural gas projects were funded by the Public Interest Energy Research Program (PIER), which provides funding for public interest energy research, development and demonstration projects. Recipients included:

  • University of California, San Diego – $150,000 to demonstrate a catalyst that can remove tar from producer gas in a biomass gasifier. This innovation could eliminate expensive downstream gas cleaning processes currently required prior to producing bio-synthetic natural gas.
  • Stanford University – $150,000 to demonstrate a new sensor technology that could significantly reduce the cost of renewable natural gas production by providing rapid feedback during synthetic gas production.
  • Pyro-E LLC, Oakland – $150,000 to demonstrate a micro combined heat and power (CHP) device that uses solid-state pyroelectric materials to convert heat directly into electricity. The device will be more efficient, more reliable and cost less than micro CHP devices that use traditional thermoelectrics.
  • Quantitative BioSciences, Inc., San Diego – $150,000 to demonstrate a process that cleans biogas from wastewater treatment by passing it through oval “raceway” ponds that continuously circulate algae and water and leave purified biomethane that can be compressed and used as a transportation fuel.
  • Otherlab, San Francisco – $145,000 to determine the feasibility of using spiral tubes made of braided fiber composite to create a low-profile gas tank that can free up cargo space and increase the driving range of compressed natural gas vehicles.
  • Ascend Energy Systems, Shingle Springs – $146,000 to determine the feasibility of using a newly developed small solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that can utilize natural gas directly to generate electricity in an electric all-terrain vehicle. The new technology will increase efficiency compared to natural gas vehicles and decrease total emissions. It will also serve as a model for using SOFCs in larger hybrid on-road vehicles.

Other Actions

The Energy Commission approved $3 million in loans through the Energy Conservation Assistance Act-Education (ECAA-Ed) program for the installation of solar photovoltaic panels at two campuses in the Sequoias Community College District. The loan will be paid back in about seven years and will save the district more than $400,000 annually. The ECAA-Ed program, funded by the California Clean Energy Jobs Fund (Proposition 39), provides no-interest loans to community colleges and K-12 schools for energy projects. They are paid back within 20 years using energy cost savings.


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About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The agency was established by the California Legislature through the Warren-Alquist Act in 1974. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, and preparing for energy emergencies.