California Energy Commission awards $1.7 million for military microgrid

The California Energy Commission is supporting microgrid technology by funding a research demonstration project at Camp Pendleton in San Diego.

The commission approved a $1.7 million award to San Diego-based Harper Construction Co., Inc., to demonstrate a set of microgrids that use community scale renewable energy resources within an existing utility grid at the Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton.

The project will integrate on-site flat-plate and concentrating photovoltaic (PV) technology with energy efficiency, energy storage and other technologies to provide reliable power and support critical base functions. The project includes $1.1 million in match funding from the grant recipient and subcontractors.

A microgrid is a small-scale version of the traditional larger power grid that draws energy from clean sources such as the wind and sun, as well as from conventional sources. It is able to connect to the larger electric grid, but can also work independently.

The Camp Pendleton microgrid project is one of 11 research and development awards totaling $15,761,267 that were approved at the commission’s June 12 business meeting.

The other award recipients are:

* Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, located in Berkeley (Alameda County), will receive $2 million to develop and demonstrate an innovative Web-based tool for small and medium-sized businesses to determine building energy performance, identify operational improvements using conventional and emerging energy efficiency technologies, and assess impacts of these improvements on indoor environmental quality. The tool will be field-tested to verify its accuracy. The project includes $254,790 in match funding from the cities of San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, Fremont, Santa Clara, and software company C3.

* California Institute for Energy and Environment, of Berkeley (Alameda County) will receive $1,629,399 to demonstrate the use of plug-in low-energy personal comfort systems. These systems are a low wattage desk fan, a low wattage foot warmer, and heating/cooling elements in office chairs. These would be networked into the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to provide feedback for the HVAC’s control systems. These devices are also occupant controlled. If left on, the devices will turn themselves off after a period of time which will allow optimized control of HVAC systems in integrated building applications. The work will be done by the University of California, Berkeley. The project includes $192,500 in match funding from the Regents of the University of California and UC Berkeley.

* Altex Technologies Corporation of Sunnyvale (Santa Clara County) will receive $1,582,817 to develop and demonstrate a waste heat and solar heat driven cooling and heating system called the Building Energy Efficient Cooling and Heating (BEECH) System for commercial buildings. Waste heat refers to heat produced by mechanical equipment for which there is no use. The BEECH system aims to utilize waste heat to reduce overall commercial building heating and cooling energy consumption. The project includes $176,000 in match funding from Altex.

* View Inc., of Milpitas (Santa Clara County) will receive $1,542,233 to demonstrate an integrated design for renovating an existing commercial building in Sunnyvale (Santa Clara County) using eight technologies. Three of these technologies are emerging: electric chromatic tinted windows; advanced sky lighting; and extreme insulation/night flushing. Five mature technologies will also be used: HVAC; LED lighting; plug-load management; renewable power and building controls. Using a “passive” first approach to this construction project will result in overall reduced energy needs for this building and will allow the contractor to further reduce costs by using the smallest HVAC system allowed by code. The installation of a 90 kW photovoltaic system will produce 100 percent of the building’s power requirements, meaning it will be a Zero Net Energy building that does not consume more energy than it produces. The contractor plans to prove this construction design will provide an immediate payback, a net-positive cash flow, and a higher rate-of-return than conventional construction. The project includes $1,533,326 in match funding from WTA-Matilda.

* The Levy Partnership, located in Riverside (Riverside County), will receive $1,433,568 to develop cost-effective advanced roof and wall systems for factory built homes. Improving the roof and wall components is expected to reduce heating and cooling costs for these homes. The project includes $299,781 in match funding from the Levy Partnership.

* Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) of Palo Alto (Santa Clara County) will receive $1,351,283 to research, install, measure, and evaluate cost-effective comprehensive efficiency retrofits to lower energy costs for the low-income multifamily housing industry. The project includes $1,142,800 in match funding from EPRI and project partner, LINC Housing.

* University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles County), will receive $1,335,074 to conduct research in new phase change materials to store thermal energy for wall assemblies, and to develop associated software tools. Heat is absorbed or released when the materials change from solid to liquid or vice versa. The materials’ big advantage is that they absorb thermal energy. This means that they can remove, or at least reduce, the need for heating and cooling in some buildings. Their impact is similar to that of adding thermal mass to the building. Unlike air conditioning systems, they require no maintenance. The use of phase change materials and associated software tools can contribute to zero net energy commercial buildings, which do not consume more energy than they produce, or to reduce the energy needs of buildings through passive designs that require low or no energy to operate.

* University of California, Davis, (Yolo County) will receive $1,167,103 to conduct detailed field studies to document and verify actual performance, energy savings, and cost characteristics for advanced lighting, lighting controls, HVAC, and other emerging technologies. The data will be used to create a guide for conducting technology assessments. The project includes $121,600 in match funding. Match funding will be a combination of cash and subcontractor in-kind labor from UC Davis and ICF International, a subcontractor.

* Enovative Group, located in Venice (Los Angeles County), will receive $1,061,800 to develop approaches and best practices to reduce the amount of natural gas used in hot water systems in large multifamily residential complexes. The project includes $12,000 in match funding from the Enovative Group.

* Chromasun, Inc., of San Jose (Santa Clara County) will receive $935,100 to demonstrate an energy efficient technology called the Solar Thermal Heat Pump for water heating and air conditioning in the hospitality industry. The solar system uses only half the natural gas of conventional boilers to provide all of a large commercial facility’s hot water. The system will be demonstrated in a hotel. The hot water will be used in an absorption chiller (Heliosorber) to provide both cooling for buildings and hot water for the hotel’s shower, pool, spa, and laundry. The project can potentially save about 45,000 therms of natural gas and 152,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year for a 300-room resort hotel. The project will include $404,192 in match funding from Southern California Gas, Energy Concepts, SunWater Solar, and Chromasun.


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