Dec. 20, 2012

California utilities partner with Lawrence Livermore to improve state's energy grid

California utilities will use the advanced technologies and expertise of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to improve the efficiency, security and safety of the state's utility systems under an agreement approved today by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

The CPUC approved funding of a five-year research and development agreement between Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison Company and San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and Lawrence Livermore (LLNL) that will provide the utilities with access to LLNL technological capabilities, such as supercomputing, and related domain expertise in engineering and applied science. The collaborative project will tap LLNL expertise to develop new tools and techniques to address challenges California faces as it implements its clean energy policy agenda.

The agreement will provide up to $150 million in funding over five years. Called California Energy Systems for the 21st Century (CES-21), the initiative is expected to yield benefits including: creation of the tools needed by California to achieve aggressive renewable energy and greenhouse gas goals; application of the country's most sophisticated cyber security technology to the state's energy grid, which relies increasingly on digital systems; planning for widespread deployment of electric transportation; and helping to build a smarter energy system that will accommodate the growth, prosperity and value to California rate payers.

"The efficiency, reliability and safety of the energy grid, not only in California but across the country, are national security challenges," said Parney Albright, LLNL director. "Lawrence Livermore can bring to bear capabilities in engineering, applied science, computation and national security that will complement utilities' efforts to build an energy grid for our state's future.

Our goal is to help develop a multidisciplinary and multi-organization partnership that will serve as a model for the nation."

A Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory, Lawrence Livermore has broad experience and expertise in applying science research and development to energy challenges. Areas of research include: wind; geothermal; hydrogen powered vehicles; aerodynamic design for large vehicles; and flywheels. The Lab also is conducting leading-edge research in inertial confinement fusion using the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world's most powerful laser.

Technologies demonstrated at the NIF offer the promise of a future source of clean energy. LLNL has worked with the California Energy Commission to better integrate wind and solar into the state's energy grid. The project is using LLNL's high-resolution weather models and high performance computing to characterize intermittent renewable resources. Livermore also has been a leader in underground coal gasification technology for the last 30 years and in the design and monitoring of safe, efficient underground storage of CO2, called carbon sequestration.