The California Energy Commission (CEC), the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency, has adopted a three-year strategic investment plan that includes an initiative to test and evaluate natural refrigerants for commercial and industrial applications.
The plan, known as “The Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC): 2018-2020 Proposed Triennial Investment Plan,” is a strategy for administering research and development funds. CEC invests more than $120 million annually through EPIC in clean energy research, demonstration and deployment projects that help California – the world’s sixth largest economy – meet its energy and climate goals.
The California Public Utilities Commission, which launched EPIC in 2011, began conducting a formal proceeding to consider CEC’s plan this month, with adoption anticipated in December 2017, after which eligible projects could begin submitting applications for funding. CEC is one of four administrators of the program, along with three electric investor-owned utilities: Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. EPIC funds come from rates charged to electricity customers of those utilities.
One of the initiatives under the plan – Initiative 1.7.1, entitled “Optimize Refrigeration Compressor Efficiency and Test and Evaluate Alternative Refrigerants” – will “test and evaluate alternative refrigerants, such as propane, CO<sub>2</sub>and others, for both small and large refrigeration units in commercial/industrial applications in various climate zones.” The focus is on “refrigerants with low global warming potential and high efficiency potential.”
The refrigerant research “could result in recommendations and best practices for use of alternative refrigerants that are cost-effective and energy efficient for appropriate applications and locations,” the plan said. In particular, “the research will help industry/commercial facilities with refrigeration units/cases transition to appropriate low global warming refrigerants that are also energy efficient.” Primary end users would include refrigerated warehouses, supermarkets, institutions and foodservice.
The initiative also includes an effort to develop and deploy improvements in refrigeration compressor control through sensors and software.
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