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Schwarzenegger proposes $95 million
for clean technology, biotech, nanotech

Illustration courtesy Purdue University

By Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News Service

December 27, 2006

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said today that he will propose nearly $95 million in the state budget to create an initiative to fund projects in key sectors such as clean technology, biotech and nanotech.

Schwarzenegger said his "Governor's Research and Innovation Initiative" is aimed at reaffirming California's position as a world leader in advanced research and innovation that creates jobs while preserving the environment.

The governor's budget provides $30 million in lease revenue bonds for the Helios Project, an initiative by the University of California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to create sustainable, carbon-neutral sources of energy.

In a conference call, Berkeley Lab director Steven Chu said the project will produce the next generation of super-efficient solar energy technology aimed at helping to reduce greenhouse gases and oil dependency.

He said the project's goals are to generate clean sustainable alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels, develop new energy sources, improve energy conservation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The $30 million will be used to build a new energy/nanotechnology research building for the Helios Project.

Schwarzenegger's budget also provides $40 million in lease revenue bonds to the University of California for UC Berkeley or UC San Diego in the event that either wins a global competition for the British Petroleum Energy Biosciences Institute grant.

Those campuses are among only five universities in the world that have been invited to compete for a $500 million grant to build and operate an Energy Biosciences Institute, which will be dedicated to long-term research into the production of alternative fuels.

The governor's budget also provides $19.8 million for the California Institutes for Science and Innovation, which is a multidisciplinary research effort by UC working in partnership with private companies in the areas of information technology, biomedical research and nanotechnology.

In addition, the governor's budget provides the first $5 million increment in state matching funds to enhance UC's bid to build a $200 million super computer, called a Petascale computer.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC-San Diego are in the running for the super computer.

The Petascale computer, which is named for the speed at which it can process information, will be the most powerful computer in the world.

UC Vice President for University Affairs Bruce Darling said, "Many states are trying to take the leadership role away from California" in super computers but California is determined to stay on top.

Darling said current super computers can process 1 trillion calculations a second but the next generation will be 1,000 times faster and perform 1 quadrillion operations a second.

In a statement, Schwarzenegger said, "As a leader in developing new technologies, California will reap tremendous rewards for our economy and environment from this investment in our innovation infrastructure."

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez said, "Providing much-needed state funding for Berkeley Lab's Helios Project in next year's budget is a smart investment. The new technologies will be a boon to our economy and carbon-neutral energy will go far in combating the threat of global warming."

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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