California may have lost the rank of #1 in solar energy to upstart New Jersey, but that doesn’t mean the Golden State isn’t still a leader in the clean energy economy. Just yesterday, the California Energy Commission awarded $1,154,230 in grants to 10 innovative projects from the Commission’s Public Interest Research Project (PIER) program.
The grants, all of which were above $90,000, will help small businesses, non-profits, individuals, and academic institutions conduct research that establishes the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts. The winning projects ranged from microscopic to massive scale, but all have the potential to profoundly change the way we consume energy in America.
Taking the biggest grant, $300,000, was the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego. Scripps is currently working to better understand differences in regional climate model projections for California and how it impacts hydropower generation forecasting. “Climate change will have significant impacts on energy supply and demand. This research will help quantify the effects for energy forecasting,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller.
Earning $95,000 in grants was Engineering Economics, Inc. which will use the money to study enhanced cooling towers to cool buildings. The project would use heat exchanged between the cool, moist exiting air and hot, dry entering air to lower cold water temperature or reduce fan power and evaporative water consumption.
Also coming in at $95,000 innovator Brian Moffat who is working on a spindrift wave energy device that would generate electrical power from a wave-driven hydrokinetic turbine embedded in a submerged tube.
San Diego State University was awarded $95,000 for a system that would transfer protons to serve as catalysts in converting water to oxygen. The project is part of a system that would covert water to hydrogen fuel and oxygen using sunlight. Another California school, UC Riverside, scored two grants, one to help build an eco-routing navigation system for electrical vehicles that would calculate travel route using the least amount of energy so that the EV range would be extended; and one to investigate a new process to produce substituted natural gas from wet organic wastes.
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