CEC Provides Transportation Update, Funds Alt-Fuel Projects

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has adopted its 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) update, as well as approved new research grants for natural gas innovations and biofuels projects.

The commission produces the IEPR every two years and updates it in alternate years. The CEC says the report finds that California is making good progress in transforming the state's transportation system to zero- and near-zero technologies and fuels to meet its climate and clean air goals. The report finds there are nearly 120,000 plug-in electric vehicles on California's roads, a growing hydrogen fuel cell market and significant biofuels investments.

The full report, which focuses on various energy-related subjects, is available here.

The CEC also approved about $900,000 for natural gas projects through the Public Interest Energy Research Program (PIER), which provides funding for public interest energy research, development and demonstration projects. Some of the new recipients include the following:

  • Otherlab: $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: $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 CEC says 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.
  • Quantitative BioSciences Inc.: $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.

The CEC also approved almost $11 million for biofuels projects 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. New recipients include the following:

  • Aemetis Inc.: $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.: $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 DGE 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.

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