November 8, 2010California Awards Job-Creating Grants for Electric Vehicle, Biofuel Projects
Submitted by Editor on Fri, 11/05/2010 - 10:40am
Published Nov. 5, 2010
The California Energy Commission has approved eight grants for energy projects that will combine about $9.6 million in state funding with nearly $12 million in private funds.
The projects receiving financing will reduce petroleum use, cut pollution and provide jobs by advancing the manufacture of electric vehicles and vehicle batteries and encouraging the use of biofuels, the commission said in a news release.
The $9,612,515 in grant money comes from the Energy Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Transportation program.
"Three years ago, California crafted innovative legislation that is paying dividends in groundbreaking advances in transportation," said Energy Commissioner Anthony Eggert. "Partnerships between government and the private sector are encouraging new industries that can rebuild California's manufacturing base. The projects the commission approved will improve California's economy and its environment by fostering green, clean advancements in transportation."
Following is a summary by the commission of the eight projects, their costs and benefits:
Electric vehicle manufacturing: $1 million to TransPower, a clean-energy company headquartered in Escondido, to study the feasibility of manufacturing large electric-drive trucks in or near San Pedro by 2013. By combining several processes and companies under one roof, the project would combine the building of components such as advanced converters or battery modules with their assembly into electric drive systems. These would then be installed on-site into mass-produced truck bodies made elsewhere. The project partners will provide $1 million to match the state grant. The goal is to ramp up production to 2,500 trucks by 2020, creating 1,500 high-paying jobs.
Electric vehicle components: $505,381 to San Francisco-based Mission Motor Co. to help it bring its prototype electric vehicle components to commercial production. In 2007 the company developed Mission One, a high-performance electric motorcycle. The company used that technology to create battery modules and motor control systems that will work in other electric motorcycles, scooters, cars, buses and even outdoor power equipment. Mission Motor Co. will provide match funding of $623,581 to create an assembly facility in downtown San Francisco that should be capable of producing 30,000 battery packs and motor control systems each year by 2015, creating as many as 100 jobs.
Electric vehicle components: $2,962,743 to Leyden Energy Inc., to help it create a production line capable of assembling its lithium-ion cells into 10 battery packs per month for its partner in the project, electric vehicle manufacturer Green Vehicles of Salinas. Leyden Energy is a battery developer and manufacturer based in Alameda County. The two companies will provide $2,963,000 to match the Energy Commission funding. The project will create 11 technical and production jobs immediately, with another 500 anticipated to be added at Leyden Energy's Fremont headquarters and at a future commercial-scale production facility planned for Salinas. Large battery systems with thousands of cells are the single most expensive component in an electric vehicle, accounting for up to 50 percent of the purchase price.
Natural-gas-powered vehicle fueling: $500,000 to the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System to help it speed the refueling of its growing fleet of compressed natural-gas-powered buses. The grant will allow the transit system to install larger, higher-capacity fueling compressors that will cut in half the time needed to refuel a CNG bus at its South Bay Maintenance Facility. San Diego is in a non-attainment air basin for oxides of nitrogen and particulates, and the new fueling equipment will allow Metropolitan Transit to incorporate 40 CNG new buses into its system and improve its ability to meet federal and state air quality standards. The Federal Transit Administration will also provide $1,176,000 for the San Diego project.
Biofuel production: $1,989,101 to Great Valley Energy to test the feasibility of creating biofuel from a crop new to the Central Valley – sweet sorghum. A salt-tolerant crop that needs one-third less water than California-grown cotton or corn, sweet sorghum can yield as much ethanol per bushel as corn, and can be used for food, forage and fiber as well as fuel. Team partners will provide match funding of $2,000,270 to install a pilot sorghum separation and testing facility in Hanford. If the testing is successful, the team will consider building smaller-scale ethanol plants distributed across the valley to be close to the sorghum fields to reduce transportation costs. Each of the commercial refineries could create an additional 20 jobs. By 2020, Great Valley Energy estimates it could have 15 small dispersed plants, each capable of producing 3.15 million gallons of ethanol a year.
Biofuel production: $1,900,000 to the city of San Jose to build and demonstrate a new system that turns trash into natural gas that can be used as a transportation fuel. The project team, which includes international biomass gasification specialists, will provide $4,214,624 in match funding to create a facility to produce methane at the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant. The resulting transportation fuel could save the city $450,000 a year through the use of natural gas in its vehicles, and the urban wood waste, yard waste and other biosolids used to make the fuel would no longer have to be put into landfills, generating additional savings. San Jose may also be able to sell excess heat and electricity created by the project. About 15 construction jobs will be created by the demonstration project, and the city is still determining how many full-time workers will be needed to operate the plant.
Biodiesel production: $1 million to the East Bay Municipal Utility District to make an estimated 300,000 gallons of biodiesel each year at its existing wastewater treatment plant in Oakland. The process will use waste fats, oils and grease, a feedstock that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 88 percent compared to regular diesel, providing an important air quality improvement. If successful, the project also could provide an important revenue stream for wastewater treatment plants across the nation. California wastewater treatment facilities alone could produce as much as 60 million gallons of biodiesel a year, creating 150 to 300 permanent jobs in the process. For the research project the district and its project team will provide $1,575,000 in match funding to construct a facility to receive waste fats, oils and grease and install two 30,000-gallon storage tanks. While lighter fats and oils are well suited to become biofuels, heavy greases such as brown grease are challenging to convert. The East Bay utility district will test improved ways to harvest the heavy greases and to reduce the sulfur content of biodiesel.
Biodiesel distribution: $69,233 to the Western States Oil Co. to convert an existing 8,000-gallon retail tank used for premium gasoline into one that can dispense wholesale biodiesel. Because the tank is immediately adjacent to the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Terminal in San Jose, delivery trucks leaving the terminal will be able to easily access the biofuel. The wholesale tank will hold 99 percent biodiesel, which will be mixed in the truck or trailer truck to make blends of 5 percent, 20 percent and up to 99 percent biodiesel. The project will reduce the price of biodiesel by cutting the cost of distribution in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay area. The new facility will be able to blend and distribute 5.25 million gallons of biodiesel each year. Western States Oil will provide funding of at least $217,380 to match the Energy Commission grant. Biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent if made from soybeans or up to 88 percent if made from waste grease. A lack of biodiesel terminals, bulk storage and blending facilities, however, limits California's ability to use the renewable fuel.
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