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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.

San Joaquin Renewables Project Converts Ag Waste to Fuels and Biochar

The Bakersfield Californian ran a front page story on San Joaquin Renewables’ project in MacFarland, Kern County, which will convert agricultural waste to low carbon vehicle fuels and biochar.  The project will provide huge benefits to the San Joaquin Valley, by providing an alternative to open burning of the agricultural waste and replacing diesel in heavy duty trucks.  The project will also provide about 50 good jobs in the County, which suffers high levels of unemployment.  And, it will provide carbon negative emissions because it will avoid black carbon emissions from open burning and diesel use, plus carbon sequestration from the biochar.

See the full article here.

California Finalizes Organic Waste Diversion Regulations

In 2016, California enacted Senate Bill 1383 to reduce the most damaging climate pollutants, known as Short-Lived Climate Pollutants.  The bill requires a 40 percent reduction in methane emissions and a 50 percent reduction in anthropogenic black carbon by 2030.  As part of the methane reduction requirement, the legislation requires a 75 percent reduction in organic landfill waste by 2025.  That means diverting more than 15 million tons of organic waste currently going to landfills and converting it to energy and compost instead.

CalRecycle’s regulations to implement the organic waste diversion requirements were just finalized by the state’s Office of Administrative Law.  The key provisions related to bioenergy are contained in Article 12 (beginning on page 92), which sets out requirements for local jurisdictions to procure bioenergy and/or compost generated from the diverted organic waste.

See:  CalRecycle SB 1383 regulations (final)

CA Board of Forestry Adopts Biomass Utilization Plan

On November 4, the California Board of Forestry adopted a forest biomass utilization plan that recommends many actions to put California’s extensive forest waste to beneficial re-use, including numerous bioenergy recommendations.  Some of the most important recommendations related to bioenergy are:

  • Consolidated permitting
  • State procurement of bioenergy
  • Inclusion of forest biomass in microgrid tariffs
  • Allocating 20% of electricity and gas R&D funding (EPIC and PIER) to forest biomass, including biomass to hydrogen projects
  • Adopting pipeline standards for biomass and hydrogen
  • Incentivizing both electricity and pipeline interconnection for forest biomass projects
  • Incentivizing use of forest biomass under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard
  • Increasing BioMAT category 3 (forest waste) to 250 MW and allowing Community Choice Aggregators (CCA’s) and publicly owned utilities to participate in the program
  • Requiring a portion of new RPS power to be baseload and flexible generation

Read:  Joint Institute Wood and Biomass Utilization Recommendations

CPUC Votes to Re-Authorize EPIC Program

The CPUC voted unanimously to re-authorize the Electricity Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program for another ten years.  EPIC has provided about $165 million per year for the past decade to a variety of clean energy research, development, deployment, and market facilitation projects.  Many small-scale bioenergy projects have received EPIC funding to demonstrate new technologies, better quantify greenhouse gas reductions and other environmental benefits, improve pollution controls, and more.  In the past, the California Energy Commission has administered 80% of the EPIC funds and the utilities have administered the other 20%.  The CPUC’s Proposed Decision only re-authorizes the 80% of funding administered by the Energy Commission.  It will consider what the major funding categories should be and whether to re-authorize the utilties’ portion of funding in the next phase of the proceeding.

See CPUC’s Proposed Decision on EPIC Reauthorization, which was adopted on August 28.

Gladstein Neandross Releases New CA RNG Report

Gladstein Neandross & Associates has just released an important report detailing the RNG (renewable natural gas) projects expected to begin producing vehicle fuel from California’s organic waste in the next four years.  Some of the highlights of GNA’s report are:

  • California will have 160 RNG production facilities online by the end of 2024
  • Those facilities will produce a combined 119 million diesel gallon equivalents of low carbon and carbon negative vehicle fuels, enough to fuel 13,731 natural gas trucks
  • The average carbon intensity of the California produced RNG will be negative 101.74 gCO2e/MJ
  • Over the next 15 years, trucks running on this RNG will cut climate pollution by 51.4 million metric tons and will cut smog-forming pollution by 20.8 thousand metric tons per year.

Download the full report:  GNA Report – CA RNG Supply Assessment, July 2020

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.