California Sinks $15 million into Green Transportation

California has once again given a substantial boost to the development of advanced biofuels and electric vehicles. The state’s Energy Commission today announced that it will award more than $15 million for projects ranging from artificial photosynthesis to vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies.

The grants are provided through the commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which provides approximately $100 million annually to encourage the development of cutting-edge vehicle technologies and alternative fuels to help meet the state’s carbon-reduction goals.

“These awards will move us further down the road toward a green transportation system,” said Energy Commissioner Carla Peterman, in a statement. “By supporting these innovative projects, we’re helping to make Californians healthy, productive and prepared with the energy options we need to fuel our future.”

The awards have led to the direct creation of roughly 1,900 short-term jobs and nearly 3,500 long-term jobs, the commission said.

The latest awards include:

• $5 million for the California Institute of Technology’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), established in 2010 as a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub. The JCAP team, which includes the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is working to develop revolutionary methods of generating biofuels from sunlight, in a process akin to natural photosynthesis.

• $4.5 million for the Rand Corporation, based on Santa Monica, to evaluate the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program.

• $2.3 million to Electricore Inc., based in the Los Angeles area, to demonstrate battery-electric medium-duty trucks. ZeroTruck of Laguna Niguel will build up to 14 trucks for the project and provide nearly $1 million in matching funds.

• Nearly $1 million will go to the Electric Power Research Institute, based in Palo Alto, to retrofit five existing heavy-duty diesel work trucks with plug-in hybrid electric-vehicle powertrain systems.

• Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will receive $1 million in matching funds for a $3.75 million project to demonstrate vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology for an all-electric heavy duty non-tactical vehicle fleet at Los Angeles Air Force Base. The fleet vehicles will be used to explore the revenue-generating capability of V2G technology by participating in the state’s electricity markets, where the vehicles can at different times charge from the grid and also discharge energy into the grid to meet demand. The Department of Defense is providing $2.75 million for the project at the lab, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

• New Leaf Biofuel LLC, of San Diego, will receive more than half a million dollars to expand the production capacity of its existing biodiesel facility, which collects used cooking oil from more than 1,500 restaurants and industrial kitchens and converts it into the fuel. The grant will enable the facility to expand its production capacity to 5 million gallons a year from the current 1.5 million gallons.

• Buy-down incentives of more than $1 million for 46 alternative-fuel vehicles. The incentives help pay the difference between the cost of conventional gas- or diesel-powered vehicles and new vehicles that use propane or natural gas.

For additional information, go to http://www.energy.ca.gov/releases/index.html

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