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UC Davis Gets $3 million for Renewable Energy Programs

The California Energy Commission will be giving the University of California, Davis $3 million to coordinate the efforts of four statewide renewable energy programs. The new California Renewable Energy Collaborative will become the administrative center for three existing programs focused on biomass, geothermal, and wind energy, as well as a new fourth program that will focus on solar energy.

Other renewable energy sources, such as hydropower and ocean energy, may be addressed in the future.

"This new center for collaboration will help energy researchers and specialists from many different sectors work more effectively with the end users of their products--the state's consumers and energy providers," said engineering professor Bryan Jenkins, who is director of the UC Davis Energy Institute and will lead the new California Renewable Energy Collaborative. "Establishing a central collaborative home will help coordinate critical research and policy missions among the state's agencies, industries, and the public for meeting the challenges facing California in the transition to a more secure and sustainable energy sector."

Under contract with the California Energy Commission, UC Davis has for the last six years been administrative home for the biomass and wind collaboratives. Its renewable-energy projects include new sources of bioenergy, advanced photovoltaic materials, solar thermal systems, and enhanced wind turbine design and efficiency.

Funding for the new unified California Renewable Energy Collaborative comes from the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program.

"California has set aggressive goals of increasing the use of renewable energy resources. As these energy collaboratives gain momentum, coordinating them is a positive step in meeting those goals," said California Energy Commission Chairman Karen Douglas.

The collaborative's chief objective is to help California focus on the most promising and cost-effective renewable-energy initiatives by:

  • Assessing resources and technologies;
  • Identifying barriers and opportunities that affect commercial success, and regulatory, economic, and financial constraints;
  • Advising the California Energy Commission on strategic planning for renewable energy development; and
  • Disseminating best practices and research findings through Web sites, public forums, and other methods.

Each collaborative is governed by a board with representatives from both commercial and public groups.

The four collaboratives being united under the new California Renewable Energy Collaborative are:

California Wind Energy Collaborative: Formed in 2002, its goal is to coordinate all aspects of wind energy among developers, environmental groups, electricity suppliers, and government representatives.

California Biomass Collaborative: Formed in 2003, it coordinates the development of sustainable bioenergy (including heat, power, and fuels) and bio-based products by addressing challenges in feedstock supply, energy conversion, and environmental impacts.

California Geothermal Energy Collaborative: Formed in 2004, its conferences and meetings have identified barriers to successful geothermal energy development, including the high cost of geothermal exploration and the unknown size of geothermal resources.

California Solar Energy Collaborative: This new collaborative is intended to help California achieve an ambitious target of installing 3,000 megawatts of solar in California by 2017. It will analyze existing solar research; facilitate research in gap areas where existing data are insufficient; and track solar technology development and use in the state.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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