UC Davis has been awarded $3 million from the California Energy Commission to lead the California Renewable Energy Collaborative toward finding solutions to better utilize wind, biomass, solar and geothermal energies.
Karen Douglas, chairperson of the CEC, said she believes the university to be a quality investment, and the partnership conducive to the commission’s goals.
“As a leader in supporting renewable energy, the Energy Commission strongly believes that funding research and development now will deliver dividends in the future for California,” she said.
Adam Gottlieb of the CEC said the funds are intended to make UC Davis the “hub” for all of these activities in research and education.
“This is the type of research that California has consistently led the nation in, and by doing this we are all organized under one roof,” Gottlieb said.
UC Davis has been under contract with the CEC for six years, and is already home to three existing biomass, wind and geothermal energy collaboratives.
The California Wind Energy Collaborative was formed in 2002, and seeks to coordinate all aspects of wind energy including developers, environmental groups, electricity suppliers and government representatives. California has an energy-generating capacity nearing 2,500 megawatts – a number that is expected to be surpassed in the coming years – and is a leading generator of wind-based energy.
The Biomass Collaborative coordinates the development of sustainable bioenergy – heat, power and fuels – and bio-based products. Much of the research takes place at UC Davis.
Formed in 2004, the Geothermal Energy Collaborative has more than 380 members and has identified barriers to successful geothermal energy development, including the high cost of geothermal exploration and the unknown size of geothermal resources.
The California Solar Energy Collaborative, the newest addition to the three collaboratives, is intended to help California achieve an ambitious target of installing 3,000 megawatts of solar power in California by 2017.
“It’s important to know that all of these collaboratives sit comfortably within each other,” Gottlieb said. “These funds for research and development and the linking of the four will help us grasp the road map towards a more energy efficient California, a benefit for all citizens.“
There are two subcontractors under the agreement between UC Davis and the CEC – the UC system’s California Institute for Energy and the Environment, and the UC San Diego Center for Energy Research. Gottlieb said having a partnership between two UCs helps cover all bases.
“Each of them has different roles and targets, but all of them strive to increase the role of renewable energy as part of state policy and in accordance with Assembly Bill 32,” he said.
The ambition of the Renewable Energy Collaborative is to serve as a focal point for the three existing programs and the new solar collaborative.
“The goal is to use renewable energy in each of these four programs and explore how UCD can take this investment and with their research expand and enhance development in each of the four areas,” Gottlieb said.
Funding for the four collaborative comes from the energy commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program, which aims to improve the production of businesses and the lives of citizens in California, Gottlieb said.
“By using more renewable sources we are becoming less reliant on fossil fuels and more cognizant of reducing our carbon footprint,” he said.
MIKE DORSEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.