Mike Johanns and Samuel Bodman, US secretaries of agriculture and energy respectively, have announced nearly $17.5 million in funding for 17 biomass research, development and demonstration projects.

The funding was announced as part of President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative which seeks to accelerate the commercialisation of renewable energy. The 17 projects selected will carry out research, development and demonstration projects.

Bodman also announced more than $13 million to fund new research in solar technologies as part of the $148 million Solar America Initiative to support the development of more efficient photovoltaic devices.

The $13 million, including about $4.5 million to be awarded for 2007, will support a number of projects, including the development of codes and standards.

Meanwhile, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has signed an agreement with Environmental Power Corp (EPC) to deliver up to 8,000 mcf of renewable natural gas daily. The gas will be generated by EPC subsidiary Microgy facilities in California. Four production facilities will be located on large dairy farms in California and interconnect to PG&E’s gas network.