For Immediate Release: August 28, 2013
Media Contact: Kelly M. Kell - 916-654-4989


Latest Energy Commission Research Awards
Aimed at Achieving California's Clean Energy Goals
Key Projects Designed to Address Gaps to Advance
Improvements in Alternative Vehicles, Energy Efficiency

SACRAMENTO - Several California businesses and universities will soon embark on projects to help the State of California reach its clean energy goals thanks to research and development grants awarded by the California Energy Commission.

The awards are part of the Energy Commission's Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) Program and build on efforts to improve the quality of life in California by bringing environmentally safe, reliable, and affordable energy services and products to the marketplace.

"Research is the science of innovation," said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. "For more than a decade the Energy Commission has invested in R&D projects that support the state's clean energy goals and grow our economy. Since 2000, the Energy Innovation Small Grant program has driven more than $1.8 billion in follow-on investment, including $1.65 billion from the private sector. For every dollar the Energy Commission invested in EISG innovations, investors matched it with $50 in funding."

A total of 13 companies will receive grants worth $1.2 million to conduct research on proof-of-concept technologies. A handful of awards are designed to help overcome barriers in the adoption of alternative vehicles and fuels, as well as challenges in advancing improvements in energy efficiency:

Ma Yanbao, a researcher at the University of California (UC), Merced will receive $95,000 to increase electric vehicle (EV) battery life and Hengbing Zhao of UC Davis will receive $94,917 to build the first solar powered EV charging station that includes battery storage and weather forecasting abilities. The projects encourage the development and use of new technologies, and alternative and renewable fuels, to help the state meet its climate-change goals.

Chang Cha of CHA Corporation, based in Sacramento County, will receive $95,000 to efficiently and cost-effectively produce hydrogen fuel from natural gas for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These vehicles are expected to play an important role in reducing California's greenhouse gas emissions, and in advancing the Governor's Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) Action Plan goals of establishing enough infrastructure to support 1 million ZEV vehicles by 2020, with a goal of having 1.5 million ZEV vehicles on the roadways by 2025. Big-name car companies are taking notice of ZEVS, with Toyota recently announcing plans to roll out a fuel cell sedan in 2015.

Researcher Robert Howard Grubbs of the California Institute of Technology, located in Pasadena, will receive $95,000 to develop window coatings that reflect sunlight and keep buildings cooler and UC Los Angeles researcher Diana Huffaker will receive $95,000 to study a device that can convert waste heat from buildings into power. Reducing building energy consumption not only saves consumers money but also avoids the need to build costly power plants.

EISG program funding comes from the Energy Commission's Research and Development Program. It provides up to $95,000 for hardware projects and up to $50,000 for modeling concepts. Funding is awarded to small businesses, non-profit organizations, individuals, and academic institutions and used to conduct research establishing the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts.

Funds will be paid to the grantees once invoices are reviewed and approved.

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The California 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.

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