Frontier Energy
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Frontier Energy

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Last week I read IEA’s Net Zero by 2050 report. It calls for 240 million homes with rooftop solar, 1,800 million installed heat pumps, 85% of buildings to be zero-carbon-ready, appliances reduce energy use by 40%, about 80% of all vehicles are electrified, and 207 MT of hydrogen are used for transportation fuel.

It occurred to me that when some of our staff started their jobs, these things were in their infancy.

David Springer was an early pioneer in technologies like radiant floor heating, rooftop solar, heat pumps, and zero net energy buildings. (You can read about some of Dave’s innovations here.) He continues to be a leader in building code development. “Our greatest opportunity to influence the direction of energy efficiency improvements is through the California Title 24 standards process,” he said.

Our Food Service Technology Center, led by David Zabrowski, started in 1986 as a small monitoring project in the back of a PG&E cafeteria kitchen. It was the first time that anyone really looked at the efficiency of commercial appliances, and FSTC work directly led to the initial ENERGY STAR labeling for restaurant equipment…with some overlap into residential.

Photo in 1986 of Betty Ferlin at FSTC’s forerunner in a PG&E company cafeteria kitchen.
In 1986, Betty Ferlin established FSTC’s forerunner in a PG&E company cafeteria kitchen.
A year later FSTC moved into its own building.

In the early 1980s — more than a decade before the EV1 — we operated a testing center for EV charging stations. We had to ship in EVs from Europe to run our tests. It wasn’t until California’s ZEV Mandate in the 1990s until automakers’ turned their attention to batteries and fuel cells. Now Chris White leads our government, utility, and industry clients in planning for the transition to vehicle electrification.

And hydrogen. When the California Fuel Cell Partnership was formed in 1999, all fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen stations lived at the office in West Sacramento. Under Bill Elrick’s leadership, FCEV cars, trucks, and buses are on the road every day and the first fuel cell ferry is poised to start operation.

You might wonder what we’re working on now that we could see in IEA’s next report. We’re exploring technologies related to building codes, power generation, energy storage, demand response, integrating EV charging with building electrical demands, grid-integrated heat pumps, and hydrogen-powered trains. And, most importantly, making everything more affordable and accessible so that no community is left behind.

We’re lucky to have a staff of seasoned experts and fresh-from-college ideas. And to have great clients and partners that are just as excited about what’s next as we are.

Originally written by Larry Brand, Frontier Energy —



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Lun K. So

Lun K. So

Program Consultant/Graphic & UX Designer