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Energy Commission Biofuels-Related Program Activities 1978 - 2005

Note: Report and papers that are on line or areas with on-line section are linked to that document or section.


Ethanol/Gasoline Blend Vehicle Fleet Demonstration (1978)

  • First documented experience w/ ethanol fuel in California (10% ethanol w/gasoline)
  • Testing with unmodified 1978 Honda CVCCs
  • Collaboration with Santa Clara University
  • Report: Methanol/Ethanol Gasoline Blend Fuels Demonstration with Stratified Charge Engine Vehicles, March 1980.

SB 620 (Mills, 1979) Ethanol Production Feasibility Studies and Ethanol Vehicle Demonstrations (1980-1983)

  • 7 potential ethanol production projects examined from 1980-1983
  • One 8 million gal/yr project (Raven Distillery) funded; operated for 18 months
  • Testing of 1980 Ford Pintos and 1981 Volkswagen Rabbits -- dedicated ethanol vehicles using 95-98% ethanol
  • Two ethanol fueling facilities installed (Sacramento & Vallejo)
  • Reports:
    • SB 620 Ethanol Production Demonstration Program, Staff Report, December 1981.
    • California's Ethanol Production Demonstration Program, 1982 report for SB 620, December 1982
  • Paper: MacDonald, T., "California's Twenty Years of Alcohol-Fueled Vehicle Demonstrations Reviewed," Thirteenth International Symposium on Alcohol Fuels, Stockholm Sweden, 2000

Sustainable Technology Energy Partnership (STEP) Project (1997)

  • Collaboration w/ U.S. DOE/NREL, U.C. Davis & Waste Energy Integrated Systems
  • Provided preliminary conceptual design for a biomass-to-ethanol demonstration plant
  • Feedstocks evaluated included mixed waste paper, yard waste, agricultural residues, waste wood and food processing waste
  • Report: Feasibility Study of Ethanol Production from Biomass Residues in San Joaquin County, California, December 1997

Gridley and Collins Pine Biomass-to-Ethanol R&D Projects (1996-99)


Methyl Tertiary Butyl-Ether (MTBE) Alternatives Study (1999) - www.energy.ca.gov/mtbe

  • Examined the potential for a California phaseout of MTBE
  • Reviewed candidate replacement oxygenates, including ethanol
  • Looked at near-term ethanol supply potential from out-of-state and in-state sources
  • Report: Supply and Cost of Alternatives to MTBE in Gasoline, pub lication # 300-98-013, February 1999 - energyarchive.ca.gov/mtbe/documents/30098013.PDF (39 pages, 271 kilobytes) and FULL Appendices, (412 pages, 1,500 kilobytes)

Biomass-to-Ethanol Study (1999)

  • Directed by Governor's Executive Order D-5-99 (March 1999)
  • Prepared by Energy Commission staff assisted by Arcadis Geraghty & Miller, SAIC, ProForma Systems, Inc., Energy Security Analysis
  • Estimated in-state potential for ethanol production from biomass wastes and residues
  • Analyzed various biomass-to-ethanol production facility configurations employing different types of feedstocks
  • Provided options and recommendations for state government actions to foster a biomass-to-ethanol industry
  • Report: Evaluation of Biomass-to-Ethanol Fuel Potential in California, publication # 500-99-022, December 1999 - www.energy.ca.gov/reports/1999-12-22_500-99-022.html

Ethanol Production Technology Evaluations (1999-2005)

  • Follow up to 1999 Biomass-to-Ethanol Study
  • Staff has interviewed all known N. American ethanol production process technology developers
  • Regular status monitoring of active biomass-to-ethanol process developers; internal list of "Active Biomass-to-Ethanol Process Technology Developers" (updated Feb. 2005)
  • Active facilitation/participation in forums for exchange of R&D information and progress updates - e.g., Biomass Conference of the Americas (1999); U.S. DOE / California Ethanol Workshop (April 2003); Biofuels Workshop and Trade Show, Western & Pacific Region (Oct. 2004); National Ethanol Conference (Feb. 2005)

Evaluation of Options for Advancing Biofuels Production and Application (1999-2005)

  • Follow up to 1999 Biomass-to-Ethanol Study
  • Regularly monitor and report on federal and other state regulatory and incentive programs - e.g., issue paper "Implications of Proposed Federal Energy Legislation for Ethanol/Gasoline Blending In California", July 2003)
  • Analytical support for California legislative proposals, e.g. SB 1728 (Costa) - Ethanol Production Incentive (2002)
  • Report: Ethanol Fuel Incentives Applied in the U.S., Reviewed from California's Perspective, publication # 600-04-001, Jan. 2004) - www.energy.ca.gov/reports/2004-02-03_600-04-001.PDF
  • Presentations:

Biomass-to-Ethanol Cost/Benefit Study (2001)

  • Follow up to 1999 Biomass-to-Ethanol Study
  • Based on analyses by Arthur D. Little and Jack Faucett Associates
  • Found positive cost/benefit for potential state investments in a biomass-to-ethanol industry
  • Report: Costs and Benefits of a Biomass-to-Ethanol Production Industry in California, publication # 500-01-002, March 2001 - www.energy.ca.gov/reports/2001-04-03_500-01-002+002A.PDF

Ethanol Supply Studies (2001-2005)

  • Continually examine ethanol supply potential to meet California's oxygenate requirements from out-of-state sources
  • Detailed surveys conducted of U.S. ethanol supply industry
  • Established adequacy of ethanol supply to fulfill CA's MTBE phaseout requirements
  • Specific focus on in-state ethanol production projects; regular monitoring of CA project development, interviews with project proponents, and site visits; internal list of "Potential California Ethanol Projects Under Discussion", circulated to interested state agencies (July 2001)
  • Reports:
  • Paper: MacDonald, T., "California's Progress Toward an Ethanol Fuel Industry, Fourteenth International Symposium on Alcohol Fuels," Phuket, Thailand, November 12-15, 2002

Ethanol Cost/Price Assessment (2003-2005)

  • Evaluate and report on implications of replacement of MTBE with ethanol in California's gasoline supply
  • Included in report to Governor: Causes of Gasoline and Diesel Price Increases in California, March 2003 and subsequent updates - www.energy.ca.gov/2003_price_spikes/index.htm

International Biofuels Assessment and Collaboration (2002-2005)

  • Track foreign biofuels development programs and progress - ethanol in Brazil, Caribbean countries, Thailand, Sweden, etc.; biodiesel in Europe
  • Host foreign delegations on biofuels-related topics - e.g. Brazilian ethanol industry and government representatives
  • Participate in international biofuels forums - e.g., International Symposia on Alcohol Fuels (2000, 2002, 2005), Thailand Ethanol Workshop (2000), International Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Trade Show (2002), Power Crops for the Americas Conference (2003)

2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report [www.energy.ca.gov/2005_energypolicy] (IEPR) Alternative Fuel Working Groups for Ethanol and Biodiesel (2004-2005)

  • Stakeholder working groups to advise Commission staff on strategies to achieve Energy Commission recommended 2020 and 2030 alternative fuel use goals
  • Major objectives - Identify barriers to increased use of ethanol and biodiesel in California, necessary actions to overcome barriers, business-as-usual and aggressive fuel use goals for 2020, strategies to achieve aggressive goals, and appropriate roles for government and industry
  • By invitation participation by a cross-section of industry stakeholders and state agencies including major oil companies, fuel blenders and distributors automakers, environmental groups, fuels technology companies, vehicle /fuel user coalitions, renewable fuel interests, regulatory entities, trade organizations, and investment/bank community interest, and fuel producers
  • State agency participation - Energy Commission, California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Air Resources Board - energyarchive.ca.gov/fuels/petroleum_dependence/

Interagency Biomass Working Group (2005)

  • Energy Commission is organizing this working group at the request of the Governor's Office
  • State agency participants: Energy Commission, Air Resources Board, Cal EPA, Integrated Waste Management Board, Department of Food and Agriculture, Public Utilities Commission, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Water Resources Control Board
  • To address interagency issues associated with utilization of biomass resources
  • Presentation: Keese, William, "Expanding Opportunities for Biofuels," keynote address at Biofuels Workshop and Trade Show, Western and Pacific Region, Sacramento, October 2004 www.energy.ca.gov/papers/2004-10-26_KEESE_BIOFUELS.PDF