New California Energy Commission Report Highlights Investments in Clean Energy Projects

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission has released a report summarizing advances in clean energy research funded through the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program.

The 2012 PIER Annual Report highlights projects designed to improve the reliability of the state's electricity supply, boost energy efficiency of building and appliances, and increase renewable sources of power. These efforts lower energy costs for consumers, while helping the state meet essential energy and environmental goals.

"This report details new research achievements and pioneering energy technologies that save Californians energy and money," said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. "The Energy Commission's investment in public energy research has helped transform the state's energy landscape, providing clear and quantifiable results that allow policymakers and innovators to plan for a clean and secure energy future."

In 2012, $28 million was invested in 30 research projects. Matching funds from private and federal sources accounted for an additional $19.6 million, including American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds. An estimated 5,360 Californians gained innovative skills and experience working on PIER-funded electricity projects.

The just-released report highlights energy efficiency research and demonstration projects that reduce the amount of energy used by buildings and appliances, and lower consumer energy costs. Between 1999 and 2008, PIER invested $27.6 million in 17 efficiency projects that led to building and appliance code changes that will save Californians an estimated $10 billion in energy costs by 2025. The report also includes estimates of the ratepayer savings from PIER's advancements in data center cooling, demand response, and building energy measurement technologies, which are expected to be in the millions of dollars each year by 2020.

To help support California's goal of generating 33 percent of its power needs with renewable resources by 2020, PIER funded clean energy research in wind, solar and geothermal technologies. Research addressing the variability of solar energy generation, an area of prime importance in increasing California's level of solar energy, demonstrated forecasting technologies that predict solar plant production for as much as two days ahead. The California Independent System Operator will use research advancements in solar forecasting in its planning process for solar PV generation.

PIER also funded research into the state's energy infrastructure leading to improved safety and system reliability for all Californians. For example, demonstrations of advanced batteries continue to show the potential of grid-level energy storage, test the use of these technologies to manage intermittent energy from sources such as solar power, and help improve grid reliability. In addition, research successes with synchrophasors led to their widespread adoption by electrical grid operators. Synchrophasors provide highly accurate measurements that can warn of possible disruptions on the electric grid. By 2020, synchrophasors will save Californians an estimated $210 million-$360 million annually by improving system reliability and reducing the risk of costly power outages.

The 2012 Public Interest Energy Research Annual Report can be found online at: