Energy Innovations Small Grants - Natural Gas Research Program

The Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) Program provides up to $150,000 for hardware projects and $75,000 for modeling projects to businesses, non-profits, individuals, national laboratories, utilities, and academic institutions to conduct research that establishes the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts. Research projects must target one of the PIER R&D areas, address a California energy problem, and provide a potential benefit to California natural gas ratepayers. To encourage participation in the program the application and award process has been simplified and assistance is available in gaining access to technical experts.

The Grant Application Manual and supporting documents for the current solicitation can be downloaded from the solicitation notice page.

Program Questions & Answers


 

Who can apply for a grant?

Participation in the EISG program is restricted to the following groups:

  • Individuals: Must be acting independently. If employed or affiliated with an organization, applicant has authority from the organization to pursue project development exclusively as an individual with no rights reserved to the organization. The individual, not the organization, retains all intellectual property rights accrued from the grant project.
  • All Businesses: There is no restriction on the size of the business
  • Non-Profit Organizations: Possess IRS tax exemption. Non-profit organizations that are already under contract to the Energy Commission to perform PIER related work outside of the EISG Program are prohibited from applying to the EISG Program.
  • Academic Institutions: Public or private postsecondary institutions.

The Energy Commission reserves the right to limit participation in a particular solicitation to one or more of the four applicant groups and/or to limit the subject areas in order to meet overall program objectives. If a solicitation is restricted by applicant type or subject area it will be clearly identified in the solicitation notice published on the EISG Natural Gas Solicitation web page.

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Can an applicant submit more than one proposal in a solicitation?

Individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations are limited to submitting one proposal per solicitation. An individual who is also a sole proprietor is considered a single entity for the purpose of this policy. Academic institutions and their Foundations are limited to submitting one proposal from any one principal investigator in a given solicitation. An individual cannot serve as a principal investigator on more than one EISG Natural Gas grant at a time. Multiple projects cannot be proposed in a single application. If more than one proposal is submitted the Program Administrator will accept the first proposal received or the first proposal logged in if more than one proposal is sent in the same package and will return the remaining proposal(s) to the applicant.

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Can an applicant who already received an EISG grant submit a proposal in a subsequent solicitation?

EISG Awardees are allowed only one active EISG Natural Gas grant at a time. EISG Awardees cannot submit another proposal for consideration until the EISG Program Administrator has published an Independent Assessment Report on the Awardee's last grant project.

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What project subject areas are eligible for funding?

EISG Program is designed to fill a fairly narrow research niche that focuses on early "proof of concept" research of new innovative energy ideas to determine if they are technologically and economically feasible. To be eligible, the subject area must target one of the six PIER program areas listed below:

  • Building End Use Energy Efficiency

    Reduce on site natural gas use and address technology gaps hindering the achievement of improved efficiency and reduced natural gas use in commercial and residential buildings: a) advance efficient technologies, design tools, and operations; b) maintain or increase productivity while reducing energy consumption and emissions.

    • Examples include:
      • Improvement to water heating and distribution efficiency (ex: heat pump assisted solar thermal collectors)
      • Improvements to food service cooking equipment (ex: Low NOx, high efficiency combustion for gas-fired commercial food service equipment)
      • Advanced HVAC and envelopes (ex: Gas engine-driven heat pump and absorption system packages)
      • Solar water heating
      • Indoor air quality (ex: low-energy residential hybrid ventilation with filtered air supply)
      • Other innovative natural gas saving systems that also reduce air emissions

  • Industrial Agriculture and Water Sector End Use Efficiency

    Reduce natural gas energy use and cost in the industrial, agriculture and water sectors through development of advanced technologies and processes that reduce energy use and costs, increase energy efficiency and maintain or increase productivity while reducing emissions.

    • Examples include:
      • Process improvements (ex: enhanced steam generator efficiency through intelligent demand)
      • Heat recovery from combustion systems and natural gas burners (ex: supercritical CO2 cycles for heat recovery/power generation)
      • Water/wastewater treatment process improvements (ex: waste water recovery using process waste heat)

  • Renewable Energy Technologies

    Reduce technical barriers to increase penetration of renewable energy by advancing the science and technology of combined heat and power (CHP) and other renewable processes; develop hybrid generation and other low emission natural gas technologies for distributed generation; and develop and demonstrate diversified applications of advanced generation technologies that use renewable natural gas.

    • Examples include:
      • Hybrid solar thermal/gas cooling
      • Natural gas production from solar thermal catalytic reformation of CO2 and H2O
      • Improved low emissions fuel flexible generation for biomass derived fuels
      • Low cost fuel flexible DG/CHP for use with variable natural gas, shale gas, and biogas blends

  • Natural Gas Infrastructure

    Conduct research that focuses on enhancing transmission and distribution capabilities of the natural gas system, and enhancing the safety and integrity of the natural gas pipeline.

    • Examples include:
      • Methane sensor detection network

  • Energy Related Environmental and Climate Change

    Develop effective approaches to resolving environmental effects of natural gas production, delivery and use; and develop new natural gas applications and products that can solve/mitigate environmental problems; complement research to inform policy associated with climate change, air quality and aquatic resources.

    • Examples include:
      • Development of nanocomposite polymer membranes to reduce methane emissions in California
      • Mitigate methane and VOC emissions from hydraulic fracturing, natural gas storage and transport through air treatment devices.

Additional details about the Energy Commission's research program subject areas can be found on the Research and Development page of the Commission's website.

EISG proposals are not required to address specific PIER research issues since the EISG Program was designed to remain open to all new technologies that may not have been previously considered as potential solutions to California's energy problems. However, EISG funded projects that do not clearly address one or more of the PIER research issues are unlikely to be recommended for follow-on funding within the main PIER Program unless a major technological breakthrough was made that has the potential to significantly impact the California natural gas market.

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What type of work is not eligible for funding?

The following types of research and activities are not eligible for EISG funding:

  • Advanced development of concepts already proven feasible
  • Science or technology advances adequately addressed by competitive and regulated markets
  • Full-scale prototyping when subscale or bench testing would be more appropriate
  • Data gathering and reporting activities
  • Marketing and promotion activities
  • Market, literature or technology assessments/surveys
  • Technology demonstrations of existing technologies for public outreach/education
  • Product development, testing or validations normally done after research
  • Commercialization or certifications (e.g., UL Listing)
  • Research that is not PIER related and has no clear market connection
  • Meta-analysis studies
  • Electricity research with little or no connection to natural gas markets except as authorized in the PIER R&D plan for natural gas.
  • Research that does not propose a clear solution to an existing energy problem
  • Research that seeks to identify a new energy problem or further define an existing energy problem with no focus on proving feasibility of a specific solution
  • Software development with no research or validation component

The proposals that are most competitive are those that speak with clarity and focus and:

  1. Will establish the feasibility of concepts designed to advance energy science and/or technology beneficial to California's natural gas ratepayers;
  2. Identify the research gaps that make the project necessary;
  3. Describes the research tasks required to complete the project and identifies all related performance objectives associated with each task.

Applicants are cautioned about the development and/or use of software for research and validation. Such proposals must have a strong validation component. Software may be used as an already validated tool, in which case the proposal must contain convincing information that establishes the reliability and independence of the validation. Software may also be developed and used for modeling and simulation in the course of the project, in which case the proposal must contain the use of a standard or some other device or approach that will be used to independently establish the validity of the project results. Proposals that seek to establish theoretical feasibility through computer modeling and simulation most often fail because they lack a strong validation component.

Applicants that are in doubt about the suitability of a particular subject area or type of research are encouraged to submit an informal 2-3 page pre-proposal abstract to the EISG Program Administrator for evaluation prior to submitting a full application. See Part 2. A. in the Grant Application Manual for additional details.

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To what level has the program been funded?

In August of 2004, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued an Order that established the public interest natural gas research and development (R&D) program to be administered by the California Energy Commission (Energy Commission). The entire PIER Natural Gas program started at $12 million in 2005 and will grow by $3 million annually to a maximum of $24 million per year. The CEC has an $18 million funding budget for the 2007 program. The funds for this solicitation will come from the 2007 natural gas PIER EISG Program. One solicitation per year is planned for the EISG Natural Gas Program.

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How long do awardees have to complete projects?

The period of performance on a grant project may not exceed 18 months. All deliverables, including the Final Report, must be received during the stated term of the grant agreement.

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How long does it take to receive project funding?

It takes approximately six months after the cutoff date to complete the proposal evaluation, approval and agreement execution process. Project research may begin as soon as the grant agreement is fully executed by the EISG Program Administrator. The schedule for the funding cycle is as follows:

Pre-proposal Abstracts Accepted (Optional): See Solicitation Notice for submission cutoff
Grant Applications Received: No later than 5 p.m. on proposal cutoff date
Commission Approval of Awards: Within 20 weeks of cutoff date
Notification of Awards: Within 5 business days (mail & website)
Execute Grant Agreements: Average time is 4 weeks after approval

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What is the procedure for requesting assistance?

Applicants may request the following assistance:

  • Help in completing the administrative requirements of the Grant Application Manual.
  • Obtain informal assessments on proposed research topics.
  • Obtain additional feedback on proposals submitted in prior solicitations that were not funded.

Applicants may direct their requests for assistance to the EISG Program Administrator via email, phone, fax or mail (see Whom Do I Contact For More Information for contact information). In the case of locating technical experts, the Program Administrator recommends using your local university/college as a resource to assist with proposal preparation or serve as team members or subcontractors on a project. It is the responsibility of the applicant to contact the recommended persons to discuss and negotiate an arrangement (e.g., a subcontract or a joint participation agreement) that would become effective upon grant award. The cost of the technical expert's participation must be included in Proposed Budget Summary (Form D) in the grant application.

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What are my options for obtaining application materials?

  1. You can download the Grant Application Manual in PDF or Word from the EISG Solicitation page. Form D (Proposed Budget) is also available as an Excel file to facilitate data entry and computations. Form D is also included in the PDF and Word versions of the application manual.
  2. Applicants that are not able to download the application documents from the solicitation page on the web may request a paper copy of the Grant Application Manual via email, fax or mail. Please include in the request your name, organization and mailing address.

    Email the request to eisg@projects.sdsu.edu.

    Or Fax the request to: (619) 594-0996

    Or mail the request to:

    EISG Program Administrator
    San Diego State University Foundation
    5250 Campanile Drive, MC 1858
    San Diego, CA 92182-1858

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What are my options for submitting my grant application package?

Grant Applications must be submitted on paper for two reasons. First, we need an original signature on one of the copies. Second, by having the applicant provide the four copies, the applicant can be assured that the copies forwarded to reviewers are complete. Submit applications to the appropriate address below:

Address if sent by U.S. Postal Service:

EISG Program Administrator
San Diego State University Foundation
5250 Campanile Drive, MC 1858
San Diego, CA 92182-1858

Physical address for FedEx, UPS or hand delivery:

EISG Program Administrator
6495 Alvarado Rd., Suite 103
San Diego, CA 92120

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Whom do I contact for more information?

If you have any questions regarding the EISG Program, please contact the EISG Program Administrator.

EISG Program Administrator
San Diego State University Foundation
5250 Campanile Drive, MC 1858
San Diego, CA 92182-1858

Phone: (619) 594-1049

Fax: (619) 594-0996

Email: eisg@projects.sdsu.edu


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How can I be notified of future EISG Solicitations?

Individuals and organizations that desire to receive an e-mail notification of only EISG solicitations can subscribe to the EISG Solicitation Notification List by sending an email to the EISG Program Administrator, eisg@projects.sdsu.edu. In the subject line or body of the email indicate, "Subscribe to the EISG Solicitation Notification List". If you want the notification to go to a different email address than the address the email was sent from then indicate the email address you want the notification sent to.

Information sent to the EISG Program Administrator will be used solely to contact people regarding the program. The data gathered is subject to state privacy regulations and cannot be released to others or used for any other purposes except for that for which it was intended.

Individuals and organizations that desire to receive a notification of all Energy Commission funding solicitations may subscribe to the Commission's "opportunity" list server at the bottom of the right-hand column of the Commission Contracts Page. You will receive e-mail announcements of all Energy Commission funding notices and solicitations, including all Energy Innovations Small Grant Program solicitations.


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Call for "Subject Matter Experts" interested in serving as project team members or consultants.

The EISG Program is in the process of constructing a database of qualified Subject Matter Experts that are interested in serving as team members or consultants on grant projects. Our intent is to provide a public database that grant applicants can use to assist them in putting together research teams for grant proposals. The database would be published on the web and organized around specific energy technologies (PV, wind turbines, gas turbines etc.) and education or training (mechanical engineering, chemist, physicist, CAD expert, machinist etc.). Those interested in being added to the database need to send a 1-2 page bio or résumé that is approved for publication on the web. The bio must include the following information:

  • Contact information
  • Specify the type of work you are interested in performing.
  • Education or training
  • Experience in area(s) that you desire to serve as a subject matter expert.
  • At your option you may provide additional information such as time availability, labor costs, willingness to sign non-disclosure agreements and willingness to provide references upon request who can vouch for the quality of your work.

It is the responsibility of the grant applicants to contact the Subject Matter Experts directly to negotiate their level of participation and compensation contingent upon the applicant receiving a grant award. The applicant is also responsible for taking the necessary prudent actions to validate the education and experience claims made by the Subject Matter Experts, such as checking references. The Program Administrator assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided by the Subject Matter Experts.



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