Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

Agriculture to benefit from new water and energy-saving research programs – from the California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission has approved more than $16 million in grants to demonstrate water and energy-saving technologies that promise to make the water, industrial, and agricultural sectors more efficient.

“In response to the drought and the Governor’s Executive Order, the Energy Commission today has invested in water-saving innovative technologies,” said California Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “These projects will increase energy efficiency at water-related facilities and enable the use of recycled water to provide better management in sectors that are typically large water users.”

The Energy Commission approved five Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) grants which lay a foundation for the Water Energy Technology (WET) program—one of the four Energy Commission responsibilities in Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s April 1 drought-related Executive Order. The approved grants are:

  • University of California, Riverside to provide more efficient information sharing between water systems. Most equipment at water and wastewater systems in California does not easily integrate with other systems. The $3 million grant will deploy a system consisting of hardware sensors and customized software that will be overlaid onto an existing energy management system without disrupting treatment plant operations in three water districts in Southern California.
  • Porifera, Inc. for wastewater treatment in San Diego, Sonoma, and Fresno counties. The $3 million grant will demonstrate wastewater treatment in industrial facilities with Porifera’s Forward Osmosis Recycle technology. The technology uses an innovative membrane system to concentrate wastewater and generate pure water for onsite reuse. The project will determine emission reductions, energy and maintenance savings, and amount of water generated for reuse.
  • Porifera, Inc. for water and energy savings in making food and beverage concentrates in Fresno, Solano, and Alameda counties. The more than $2 million grant will demonstrate the energy savings, reliability and commercial viability of Porifera’s Forward Osmosis Concentrator. The system can also provide high quality water for on-site reuse.
  • Wexus Technologies, Inc. for commercialization of a cloud-based software platform in the agricultural industry. Wexus reports farmers can spend up to 50 percent more on energy than needed. The $4 million grant will demonstrate software that leverages existing utility meter data and helps growers access on-farm electricity and water information from any mobile device. Based on this information, growers can quickly adjust equipment to reduce energy costs.
  • Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Inc. to increase the removal of organic materials through a cloth filtration system at wastewater treatment plants. This filtration method can streamline the treatment process and reduce electricity costs. Kennedy/Jenks estimates this process accounts for 40 percent to 60 percent of total electricity use in these facilities. The use of cloth filtration removes more organic material from wastewater than the conventional processes. The $3.5 million grant will demonstrate this technology at three wastewater treatment plants.

“Water conservation and reuse play important roles in helping farmers and ranchers adapt to the drought,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross. “Public and private partnerships move innovation and agricultural diversity forward. Funding these projects allows farmers and ranchers to save water through efficiency without sacrificing their livelihoods.”

The Energy Commission also approved Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) projects, which must demonstrate the viability of bringing advanced fuels technology to the marketplace. As part of the Energy Commission’s continuing diversity and outreach policy, scoring preferences were provided to fuels and transportation projects located or demonstrated in disadvantaged communities in the state. The approved alternative fuels and transportation grants include:

  • North American Repower LLC to demonstrate the efficiency and viability of six armored security trucks converted from diesel fuel to plug-in hybrid electric-renewable natural gas. Security protocols typically require armored vehicles to leave their engines running during each scheduled stop, which burns fuel and emits pollutants. The demonstration vehicles, which have near-zero emissions, will operate in an all-electric mode during stop-and-go usage and in hybrid-mode during continuous vehicle operation. North American Repower received $3 million and will operate in Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
  • Transportation Power, Inc., for three separate projects totaling nearly $9 million: a heavy-duty electric garbage truck in the Sacramento region; an advanced batter-electric truck in San Diego County; and a heavy-duty electric yard tractor in the Central Valley.
  • Motiv Power Systems, Inc., to demonstrate an electric refuse and loader truck. Motiv Power Systems received nearly $3 million and will operate in the Sacramento region.


Link to news release

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