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California Launches Climate Catalyst Fund for Advanced Technology Forest Biomass to Energy Projects

The California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank), part of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, is now accepting project proposals for a new state program to combat climate change. Dubbed the Climate Catalyst Fund, the program will jumpstart critical climate solutions through flexible, low-cost credit and credit support. The program is open to both private and public sector applicants and will be flexible in offering a range of financial instruments to support innovative forest biomass projects.

Starting with a $47 million fund, the Climate Catalyst Fund’s initial focus will be on projects that reduce wildfire threats through forest biomass management and utilization. Starting in 2022-23, the Climate Catalyst Fund expects to expand to include climate-smart agriculture projects.

For more information, visit: The Climate Catalyst Fund website.

Yosemite Clean Energy Secures site for Wood Waste to Hydrogen Production

Yosemite Clean Energy intends to break ground on its forest waste to green hydrogen and biomethane plant in early to mid-2022. Yosemite is a sustainable biofuels company devoted to the stewardship of our planet’s natural resources as well as the empowerment of local forest and farm communities to democratize energy production.  Yosemite’s biofuels production facilities will utilize proven Austrian-based gasification technology to produce commercial scale carbon-negative green fuels.  The Oroville plant will be the flagship dual-bed gasification facility in the Americas, following over 100,000 hours of commercial run-time across developed plants in Europe, Japan, and South Korea.

California has an estimated 35 million tons of waste woody biomass available annually, currently left to burn, decay, and decompose, emitting immense amounts of greenhouse gases and black carbon. Yosemite will sustainably convert this biomass into syngas, from which carbon negative green hydrogen and RNG is produced using downstream technology already widely commercialized in the US. These-carbon negative fuels will be used to support California’s bold emission targets as it transitions to a carbon neutral economy.

Tom Hobby, the company’s president, stated, “Yosemite and our team of engineers, forest and farm professionals, legal, marketing, and financial teams will lead the company to become the first wood waste biomass plant to produce commercial scale carbon negative green hydrogen and RNG for the California fuel markets.” One plant will produce an estimated 31,000 kg per day of RNG and 12,200 kg per day of green hydrogen. Over the next 10 years, Yosemite plans to have biomass energy plants across California and North America.

Each Yosemite biofuels plant will be locally owned by farmers and forest landowners, who in return will provide wood waste, gathered at the end of the orchard’s lifecycle or through sustainable forest management. Vice-President for Business Development Robert Jackson said, “This is new. This type of ownership in biofuels facilities like ours is the democratization of clean energy. We’re providing an all-new mineral right from a waste stream and converting it to a revenue stream for farmers and forest communities.”

To learn more, go to www.yosemiteclean.com.

CPUC Decision Calls for 1,000 MW of New, “Firm” Renewables, Including Bioenergy

The CPUC’s Decision calls for 11,500 MW of new renewable power generation to offset the closure of California’s last nuclear power plant and several natural gas plants along the coast that use “once-through cooling.”  The Decision also calls for 1,000 MW from “firm” renewable power – bioenergy and geothermal – that is available when needed and has a capacity factor of at least 80 percent (is in operation 80% of the time throughout the year).  The new generation must be online by the end of 2026.

The requirement for firm renewable power begins on page 35 of the CPUC’s Decision on Mid-Term Reliability Procurement.

SacBee Piece on Need for Forest Biomass Utilization

Jonathan Kusel, Executive Director of the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, authored an excellent piece in the Sacramento Bee that focuses on the impact of wildfires on California’s water and power supplies, local communities, and air quality.  The piece underscores the need to put forest waste to beneficial use.

As Jonathan writes, “Legislators, state and federal agencies must prioritize investments in long-term landscape resilience and the capacity of local communities and the workforce.  Investment must also be made in long-term restorative practices, carbon-smart wood utilization, workers and rural communities.  Meaningful restoration requires supporting new community-scale businesses and the capacity to utilize small-diameter trees that cost more to cut and haul than they’re worth. As California invests billions in landscape restoration, a primary challenge will be developing businesses that can utilize small diameter trees and forest waste that are the byproducts of desperately needed restoration.  Without investment in new community-scale businesses, forest restoration will not succeed. Burning piles in the woods is not the answer. Converting biomass to hydrogen is just one example of new technology that can simultaneously utilize forest biomass and help California reach carbon neutrality.”

Read the full article here.

BAC Comments on the CPUC’s Biomethane Procurement Proposal

BAC submitted comments on the CPUC’s Staff Proposal on Biomethane Procurement.  The Staff Proposal recommends requiring California’s gas utilities to procure 75 billion cubic feet of biomethane annually by 2030.  That only represents 4 percent of California’s total gas use.  By comparison, state law requires that 60 percent of California’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2030.  In comments on the Staff Proposal, BAC urges the Commission to:

  • Increase the biomethane procurement target to 150 BCF to help meet the state’s climate, clean energy, waste and wildfire reduction goals.
  • Include all eligible organic waste feedstocks.
  • Base program prices on the carbon intensity of the biomethane to prioritize the lowest carbon sources that help reduce climate super pollutants (Short-Lived Climate Pollutants).
  • Offer additional incentives to maximize the carbon reductions and other benefits of the program

To read BAC’s detailed comments, see R.13-02-008 BAC Comments on Phase 4A Staff Proposal

CPUC Proposes Biomethane Procurement Program

In June, the CPUC released a draft Staff Proposal on biomethane procurement.  The proposal recommends requiring the gas utilities to procure 75 billion cubic feet of biomethane annually by 2030, primarily from organic waste that is diverted from landfills and from landfill gas.  The Staff Proposal also recommends the inclusion of two pilot projects that convert forest waste to biomethane, which will help the state to meet its wildfire and black carbon reduction goals.  Unfortunately, the Staff Proposal excludes biomethane from dairy waste and does not address agricultural waste or urban wood waste at all.

See, CPUC’s Biomethane Procurement Staff Proposal

 

Princeton Study Highlights Need for Bioenergy, Renewable Hydrogen

Princeton University has released a groundbreaking study on how the United States can achieve carbon neutrality.  The study finds that bioenergy – especially biomass with carbon capture and storage – and renewable hydrogen will be critical to achieve carbon neutrality.  The study’s main conclusions related to bioenergy are:

  • Biomass plays an especially important role in achieving carbon neutrality because i) it removes CO2  from the atmosphere as it grows and so combustion of hydrocarbon fuels made with biomass carbon results in no net CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, ii) it can be converted into H2  while capturing and permanently sequestering its carbon, resulting in a net negative-emissions fuel, and iii) it can similarly be used to make negative-emissions electricity.
  • Starting in the 2030s, H2  from biomass with capture of CO2  that is permanently sequestered is a highly cost-competitive technology option because of the  high value of the  associated negative emissions; negative-emissions bio electricity is less valued because of abundant low cost of solar and wind electricity.
  • Hydrogen is a key carbon-free intermediate or final fuel.

You can download the full study here.  The Bioenergy chapter begins on slide 200.

Air Board Adopts Plan to Phase Out Open Burning of Agricultural Waste in San Joaquin Valley

In late February, the California Air Resources Board approved a plan to phase out the open burning of agricultural waste in the San Joaquin Valley, California’s largest agricultural region.  Open burning, which has increased nearly 500% in the past several years, is a major source of air and climate pollution in the Valley.  In fact, open burning of agricultural and forest waste is one of the largest sources of black carbon emissions – a powerful Short-Lived Climate Pollutant that is 3200 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide and is also very harmful to public health, crops, forests, and more.

The Air Board’s plan calls specifically for:

  • A Clean Biomass/Bioenergy Collaborative across state agencies
  • Increased funding for bioenergy and other alternatives to open burning
  • Increased production of liquid and gaseous fuels from agricultural waste

See:  CARB Approved Plan to Phase Out Ag Burning (Feb2021)

New Fact Sheet Highlights Job Benefits of Bioenergy

See the new Bioenergy and Jobs Fact Sheet developed by Gladstein, Neandross & Associates for BAC and CNGVP.  The fact sheet highlights the jobs and other economic benefits that bioenergy provides from a range of organic waste sources and bioenergy end uses, including electricity generation, pipeline biogas, carbon negative vehicle fuels, and more.

Bakersfield Californian: Bioenergy Interest Heats up in Kern County

The Bakersfield Californian article highlights the many benefits of bioenergy production, from job creation to reduce air and climate pollution.  It highlights the growth of bioenergy projects in Kern County and the opportunities for bioenergy from all organic waste sectors.

Read the article here.