Advancing Energy Research and Development

Two of the nation’s leading government energy research and development agencies are taking bold steps forward as their partnership enters its second year. The California Energy Commission and the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), the energy innovation branch of the U.S. Department of Energy, both provide millions of dollars in funding to innovators who are advancing science and energy technologies. Supported innovators are chosen because they have bold ideas for developing new technologies from concept to market. The two entities held their second collaboration session last week after signing a Memorandum of Understanding in 2013.


The session was led by Cheryl Martin, the deputy director of ARPA-E and Robert Weisenmiller, the chair of the Energy Commission. It focused on creating new mechanisms of collaboration between the two agencies and enhancing coordination to target promising energy technologies. “It’s critical that our two agencies work closer together to advance innovative energy technologies,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “Achieving California’s ambitious energy and environmental goals demand it.”

The Energy Commission and ARPA-E support many innovators, but their collaboration has extended to three recent projects:

  • This month the Energy Commission provided follow-on funding ($1.5M each) for ARPA-E funded Halotechnics ($3.3M ARPA-E award) and the University of California, Los Angeles ($2.4M ARPA-E award) to advance their thermal energy storage technologies. These technologies will help reduce costs and improve the efficiency of thermal energy storage, leading to increased capacity and distribution of concentrated solar electric generation.
  • In June, the Energy Commission provided follow-on funding ($1.2M) for ARPA-E funded BlackPak Inc. to build a natural gas storage tank prototype for light-duty vehicles. The Energy Commission’s funding will enable BlackPak to create a prototype of the innovative sorbent-based natural gas tank it developed through its initial $5.4 million ARPA-E award. BlackPak is building the storage system from carbon materials that allow natural gas to be stored at a lower pressure. If successful, the storage system will reduce cost and can be added into a vehicle’s design without sacrificing passenger space.

The Energy Commission runs several energy research and development programs to advance energy efficiency, renewable energy and other energy-related subjects, including the new Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program that invests in improvements to the state’s electricity systems. The Energy Commission plans to showcase these programs to the energy research and development community at the 2015 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in February.

Look for opportunities by visiting the websites of ARPA-E and the Energy Commission.

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Research & Development

California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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