Posts

US EPA Certifies Biomass Gasification to RNG Pathway

San Joaquin Renewables, a BAC member and subsidiary of Frontline Bioenergy, has just received approval from US EPA for a biomass gasification to RNG fuel pathway under the Renewable Fuel Standard.  This will be the first biomass gasification to RNG project that qualifies for D3 RINs (the most valuable pathway) under the federal renewable fuel program.

San Joaquin Renewables is building the project in McFarland, Kern County.  The facility will convert agricultural waste, including almond and pistachio shells and orchard prunings, to renewable gas that will then be used as vehicle fuel to replace diesel.  According to EPA’s analysis, the fuel produced by San Joaquin Renewables will cut carbon emissions 96% compared to diesel.  It will also eliminate the climate and air pollution that would be emitted from open burning or pile and decay of the agricultural waste.

To learn more about the project, see this article.

Air Board Prepares for New Climate Change Scoping Plan

At the Air Board’s April hearing, Air Board staff provided an overview of the next Climate Change Scoping Plan update, including the timeline to develop the plan and some major new areas it will include. The Scoping Plan provides the framework for achieving California’s climate goals.  Air Board staff proposed several new focus areas for the next Scoping Plan that are directly related to bioenergy, including:

  • Consideration of a renewable gas procurement requirement
  • A plan for achieving carbon neutrality by mid-century
  • Incorporating Natural and Working Lands into the Scoping Plan

See:  ARB presentation on Climate Scoping Plan (4.23.20)

CPUC Proposes Major BioMAT Changes

In early March, the CPUC released a revised Staff Proposal on the BioMAT program.  The Staff Proposal contains 15 separate and significant proposals to revise the BioMAT program.  Generally, the proposals are quite helpful and some – extending the program end date – are absolutely critical.  The most significant recommendations in the Staff Proposal would:

  • Extend the BioMAT program end date from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2025;
  • Make the program statewide, allowing other purchasers of BioMAT power, instead of limiting it to the three investor-owned utilities;
  • Provide greater operational flexibility and reduce some of the excessive penalty provisions;
  • Extend the time allowed for projects to begin commercial operation;
  • Set deadlines for utilities to execute contracts; and
  • Require projects to provide lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions analyses

See CPUC’s BioMAT Staff Proposal (March2020)

New Report Highlights Importance of Bioenergy to Meet Climate Goals

Lawrence Livermore National Labs has just released a groundbreaking report on how California can reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.  The report finds that reaching carbon neutrality is feasible with existing technologies, but only if California invests much more in carbon negative actions that can offset the carbon emissions that can’t be eliminated.  The report highlights several areas where carbon negative emissions are achievable and quite cost-effective:  Bioenergy, biochar and other forms of carbon sequestration, restoring natural and working lands, and carbon capture and storage.  Of these, the report concludes that bioenergy will provide the greatest share of carbon negative emissions by mid-century, and at a small fraction of the cost of carbon reductions under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard or Cap & Trade programs.

Download the Executive Summary and Full Report to learn more.

BAC Members Receive Forest Service Wood Innovation Grants !!

Congratulations to BAC members Camptonville Community Partnership, CLERE, Inc., and the Mariposa Biomass Project, which were among 39 projects around the country to receive Wood Innovation Grants from the U.S. Forest Service.  The grants will help to develop much-needed forest biomass projects in local communities.  These projects will help to reduce the risks and spread of wildfire, provide renewable energy, reduce air pollution and climate emissions from burning of forest waste, and increase community resilience by providing jobs and local energy supplies.

Click here to learn more about the projects and the grants.

CPUC Proposes Changes to BioMAT Program

CPUC staff has proposed some major changes to the BioMT program, including a five-year extension of the program from 2021 to 2026, changes to the pricing mechanism, fuel requirements in the forest BioMAT category, contract changes due to interconnection delays, and more.  Comments on the Staff Proposal are due to the CPUC on November 29.

Read BioMAT Program Review Staff Proposal

Counties Urge CPUC to Support Biomass and Biogas

Fifteen California counties and the Rural County Representatives of California urge the CPUC to adopt policies to increase baseload and flexible generation power, including biomass and biogas, as part of California’s 50 percent renewable power requirement.  The counties lay out the many benefits of biomass and biogas for ratepayers and the public, including renewable power to complement wind and solar, provide grid stability, reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, protect water and hydropower supplies, protect utility infrastructure from wildfire, and provide economic development in rural communities.

See the Counties’ letter to CPUC

 

BAC / TSS Consultants’ Article in “Biomass Monitor”

See the Opinion Piece in Biomass Monitor on “Forest Biomass Utilization Combatting Catastrophic Wildfires,” written by Julia Levin of BAC and Tad Mason of TSS Consultants.  The piece explains that catastrophic wildfires are not natural or good for California forests, emit huge quantities of black carbon and other pollutants and threaten California water supplies.  Forest fuel treatment and use of that biomass to produce energy can help restore healthy, more resilient forests and cut pollution from wildfires and fossil fuel power generation.