Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cal to be hub for study of alternate fuel

Cal to be hub for study of alternate fuel

Group headed by UC Berkeley wins $500 million grant from BP
- Rick DelVecchio, Mark Martin, Chronicle Staff Writers
Thursday, February 1, 2007

An unprecedented $500 million grant to develop new biofuels has been awarded to a consortium led by UC Berkeley, making the Cal campus the international hub of research on clean energy and the Bay Area the potential crucible of a new post-oil economy.

Sources in Sacramento said Wednesday that UC Berkeley, teamed with the University of Illinois, has won a hard-fought international competition to land the Energy Biosciences Institute, funded by British Petroleum.

The oil giant announced last June that it would stake half a billion dollars over 10 years on the search for alternatives to oil and gas and was looking for a major academic center to host the project, which it described as the first of its kind in the world.

The center will fund "radical research aimed at probing the emerging secrets of bioscience and applying them to the production of new and cleaner energy, principally fuels for road transport," according to an announcement on the company's Web site.

BP's U.S. chief Robert Malone will join Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director Steven Chu at a news conference at Cal this morning. A campus spokesman declined to give details.

Schwarzenegger hosted a top BP executive in his Sacramento office late last year as part of an effort to win the grant.

The institute is to be housed at the national lab in the Berkeley hills above the campus and will be the richest alternative energy-research center in the world, according to a Sacramento source.

British Petroleum chose UC Berkeley over other major research universities in the United States and the United Kingdom, according to the source.

A spokesman for Schwarzenegger noted that California's recent effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions helped persuade BP to spend the money in the state.

"California is yet again leading the world on clean energy,'' said Adam Mendelsohn, Schwarzenegger's communications director.

As part of the grant, the state is expected to pitch in $40 million to build the new research facility. The money would come from lease-revenue bonds, which would have to be approved by the Legislature.

to read the rest of the article check out the San Francisco Chronicle

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