PIER Program Long-Term Priorities

As a "proof-of-concept" program, EISG seeks out concepts that are not yet proven and are very early in the research pipeline: so early that even angel investors may not yet be willing to invest. The EISG program encourages technical innovation and risk taking. Since the EISG program focuses on innovative concepts at the very early stage of development, the goal is to uncover a few good ideas and start them on the path of development, leading to ratepayer benefits and the development of new technologies that will benefit the California economy. Following are suggested research topics for several PIER areas of public interest RD&D.

Energy Systems Integration

  • Technologies to facilitate grid connection for distributed generation.
  • A testable method to aggregate loads and DG into a collected resource with the demand sensing and cognizant control for effective demand response systems.
  • Technologies to enhance real time information about grid conditions with the goal of optimizing the use of existing transmission assets.
  • Grid dispatch using probabilistic criteria. Applicants should use actual data to demonstrate feasibility.
  • Sensors and controls for fast detection of high voltage/high current system faults and response devices.
  • Speed the accuracy and response time of grid dispatch and control.
  • Technologies to enhance the robustness of the grid during major stress events.
  • A testable method to un-bundle and assess the cost and value of the services provided by the grid. The method and the test of its feasibility must be contained within the same grant application.

Building End Use Energy Efficiency

  • Appliances that sense a power interruption and "gracefully" shut down.
  • HVACs and refrigerators that respond to a demand response signal and will nevertheless protect refrigerated contents from spoilage.
  • Robust, cost effective and performance-predictable building materials that shift the load off-peak.
  • Lower cost energy efficiency products, such as windows, roofing, HVAC and appliances.
  • Economic models that enable analysis of the energy savings and value of multiple circuit compressors/evaporators in large systems and with the staged operation of fans. The models must be demonstrated with real-world data.
  • Technical solutions that improve the energy performance of buildings.
  • Fault detection with diagnosis in lighting and for such appliances as refrigerators.
  • Low energy cooling systems, such as evaporators, that match the needs of builders and customers while providing superior cooling performance.
  • No-maintenance evaporative cooling for schools (schools usually have minimal funding for maintenance).
  • Distributed digitalized temperature sensing and control.
  • Construction-friendly radiant cooling and/or heating systems (possibilities are currently limited by building trade practices).

Transportation Energy

Transportation Systems

Sustainable Communities

  • Advancing methods to measure and monitor the system-wide impacts of land use decisions.
  • Developing data-driven planning tools and case studies to help regional and local agencies design, test, and implement new policies.
  • Assessing institutional barriers and policy drivers to energy efficient community development and land use strategies.

Electric Fuel

  • Advancing methods and technologies for recycling lithium-ion batteries used in plug-in electric vehicles.
  • Researching second-life applications of lithium-ion batteries.
  • Researching consumer behavior for plug-in electric vehicles.
  • Encouraging off-peak vehicle charging and managing the additional load on the grid.

Alternative Fuels

  • Advancing the development and deployment of sustainable alternative fuels, reducing GHG emissions.
  • Promoting California-based fuels and feed stocks, enhancing the state's energy security and employment base through displacing imported fuel.
  • Emphasizing biofuels that are compatible with conventional vehicles and the existing fueling infrastructure.

Vehicle Technology

  • Improving the energy efficiency of active and passive components in light-duty vehicles
  • Advancing vehicle HVAC systems using thermoelectric technologies
  • Demonstrating the use of a high efficiency advanced technology in medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Demonstrating an electric plug-in technology in delivery truck applications
  • Analyzing performance, infrastructure requirements, and evaluating long- and short-term grid requirements for plug-in technology for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles

Industry, Agriculture and Water

  • Public domain models that locate and aggregate customer loads for critical peak reduction using information from the customers' energy management systems.
  • Advancements in materials science and architecture that will improve inverter performance, such as current-carrying capacity and reliability, at reduced cost.
  • A public domain, user-friendly Excel model for easier investigation of energy storage, enabling the user to enter parametric data for the site and its application so that the model provides general specifications, cost, performance and economics.
  • Non-tracking optics for the distribution within buildings and use of natural lighting and with the UV removed.
  • Lower cost, more reliable sensors and controls for industrial processes, such as refinery operations.
  • More accurate and economic flow measuring in compressed air and steam systems for tie-in to industrial control rooms.
  • Improved knowledge-based control optimization for food processing.
  • Improved decision-based models to be used by management for risk assessment when considering process modifications and water management.
  • Modeling the value and cost of water for real time pricing of water use in California to determine if there is there enough value to justify further investigation of real-time pricing.
  • Advanced materials to economically improve the life expectancy of impellers in lift pumps.
  • Sensors and prediction techniques (i.e. vibration, IR, etc.) to identify potential failures in impeller lift pumps. Same for the possible loss of pump efficiency.
  • Reduced pressure and energy requirements of filters in commercial drip irrigation systems.
  • Conversion to useful energy of the waste products from oil wells and waste gas.



  • Reduce the levelized cost of electricity production from solar energy via reduction in capital, O&M and balance of plant costs.
  • Smarter and more economic tracking concentrators for PV power plants, including optimized tracker movement.
  • Advanced energy storage media to reduce the cost and improve the performance of solar systems.
  • Utilize the temperature rise of solar cells, or mitigate the effect of temperature rise on cell efficiency, for building integrated PV systems.
  • Optimize the hybrid solar power plant (combination of solar power and combined cycle) so that the system cost is reduced and the performance is improved.
  • Alternative materials for solar cells to reduce cost and improve performance.
  • Reduce the effects of high temperature on solar cell performance when used with concentrators.
  • Improve energy storage for solar cells to reduce electricity cost and extend system operation when sufficient solar insolation is not available.


  • Reduce the levelized cost of electricity production from biomass through reduction of capital, O&M and fuel costs.
  • Improve the economics of electricity production from biomass by co-production of value added products (fuels, chemicals, and other products).
  • Improve the harvesting, processing, transportation and handling of forest fuels, especially in areas with medium to high slopes.
  • Improve the efficiency of biomass energy conversion systems (combustion, gasification and pyrolysis).
  • Improve biomass energy conversion systems without using air or nitrogen.
  • Reduce the emissions of biomass energy conversion technologies to meet California environmental standards and requirements.
  • Improve the performance and reduce the cost of anaerobic digestion of livestock manure, wastewater and food processing waste.
  • Improve the performance and reduce the cost of landfill gas to energy systems.


  • Reduce the levelized cost of electricity from geothermal energy by reducing the cost of exploration, well drilling and/or O&M and capital costs.
  • Develop an advanced thermal desalination system that uses spent geothermal fluids (brine) as a heat source. The distilled water can be used for power plant cooling or to improve the water quality of the existing water body. The brine can be plumbed and re-injected through the power plant's conveyance system.
  • Advanced remote sensing for locating and/or identifying geothermal resources. Improved directional tools for geothermal exploration.
  • Reduce the production cost of aerogels for insulation applications in building, piping, etc..
  • Technologies that will contribute by a factor of 2 (or more) to the cost reduction of constructing bore fields for geothermal applications.
  • Increase ground source heat pump efficiency by >50%.


  • Reduce levelized cost of electricity through cost reductions of the wind turbine gear train and balance of the plant. Improve wind turbine performance and capacity factors.
  • Reduce the cost and improve the performance of distributed wind energy generation of wind energy in urban settings.
  • Lower cost, better performing energy storage for wind electric generation.
  • Advanced techniques for tracking avian flight. Automated avian monitoring.


  • Extraction of low head hydro with minimal or no impact on the environment and reduced costs.


  • Advanced energy harvesting technologies to exploit low energy density sources with high efficiency. Currently, concepts exist to exploit the temperature differences between any two reservoirs that are not in thermal equilibrium (e.g. ocean and land surfaces, air and shallow subsurface, etc.) for very low power demands. Such technologies could be useful when integrated into lower power home and industrial applications, and for recharging small batteries.

Energy Innovations
Small Grants


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