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California makes first investments in $100M energy research & development program; also biogas and H2

The California Energy Commission approved its first $10 million to fund Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) research and development (R&D) projects during its monthly business meeting today. The Commission also approved grants for the operation of a hydrogen fueling station, biofuel production, geothermal exploration and rooftop solar for schools.

EPIC is a multi-year, research investment program focused on electricity-related innovations, finding new energy solutions and bringing clean energy ideas to the marketplace. The program’s 2012-2014 plan calls for investing $330 million between 2014 and 2015 in innovative technologies that provide benefits to electric ratepayers served by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. The seven awards approved will fund applied R&D projects that will develop utility-scale renewable energy generation technologies.

First NorCal Retail H2 Refueling Station Open
The first hydrogen refueling station in Northern California was dedicated in West Sacramento. It marks the 10th retail hydrogen refueling station in the State
The station is cofunded by the California Energy Commission under its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) and was installed at a fuel station that has been operating for more than 60 years by Ramos Oil, one of the largest Hispanic-owned companies in the United States.

Two of the awardees, Halotechnics and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), also received funds from the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). The state and federal awards are complementary and aim to push emerging technologies to the marketplace.

  • Halotechnics and UCLA: $1.5 million each to advance thermal energy storage technologies that will help cut costs and improve the efficiency of thermal energy storage, leading to increased capacity and operational benefits for concentrated solar power plants.

  • Itron, Inc.: $1 million to use high-fidelity solar forecasting to predict load impacts on California’s electricity grid and reduce solar integration costs.

  • Geysers Power Company: $3 million to investigate if geothermal plants could vary output to balance other intermittent renewable resources to increase the amounted of wind and solar used by the grid.

  • University of California, San Diego (UCSD): $1 million to use advanced solar forecasting to optimize campus distributed energy resources on the UCSD campus. Also, $1 million to address solar energy forecasting for large-scale concentrating solar power and photovoltaic plants.

  • University of California, Davis: $1 million to improve the accuracy of short-term forecasting of wind power production in the Tehachapi Wind Resources Area.

In the next year, the EPIC program will invest an additional $180 million in grants to fund projects designed to achieve California’s clean energy goals and provide customers with additional energy choices.

Alternative Fuel and Vehicles. The Energy Commission approved two grants and contracts through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which supports the development and use of alternative and renewable fuel projects and advanced transportation technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on petroleum-based fuels.

  • Colony Energy Partners Tulare, LLC: $5 million to construct a digester for processing waste that will produce 2.8 million diesel gallon equivalents of biogas each year, displacing an equal amount of diesel fuel used by trucks in the San Joaquin Valley. This job-creating project is nearly three times larger than any other biogas project funded by the Energy Commission.

  • Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.: $300,000 for its first of 10 hydrogen fueling stations being funded by the Commission. The award covers operations and maintenance costs for fueling station equipment in Diamond Bar, and the costs of gathering data about the equipment.


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