Funding Opportunity Gets Down To Where The Rubber Meets The Road

They say some roads are paved in gold. The California Energy Commission is looking at technology that might someday pave its roads with crystals.

The Energy Commission released a $7 million grant funding opportunity that includes $2 million to research and develop pilot-scale projects that use piezoelectric materials embedded in roadways to harvest electrical energy.

Piezoelectric materials are crystals that generate electricity when subjected to mechanical stresses, vibrations and compression – like when driven over by a vehicle. The crystals are placed beneath the asphalt. As cars travel across the crystals, electricity is produced – the more cars, the more electricity. The energy is captured by sensors and stored for use in roadside lights and call boxes.

The technology is already in use in Israel and Italy and at a pedestrian platform at a train station in Japan. It has even been incorporated into dance floors at clubs in Holland and in San Francisco.

Projects funded through the Energy Commission’s grant solicitation will assess the technical and economic feasibility of piezoelectric systems including power output, life expectancy, durability, cost and marketing potential.

The grant funding opportunity also has a second component. Up to $5 million will be awarded for the research and development of advanced breakthrough technologies that can make renewable distributed systems more economical by increasing their efficiency or helping them generate more energy.

The Energy Commission will hold a pre-application workshop at 10 a.m. Aug. 4 in Sacramento. Participants can get an overview of the funding opportunity, ask questions and network with other interested applicants. Details about the solicitation and workshop are on the Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge program’s web page.

The Energy Commission is committed to increasing diversity in the energy sector and encourages women, minority, disabled veteran and LGBT businesses to engage in and benefit from its many programs.

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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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