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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.

Raven SR Announces Project to Convert Organic Waste to Renewable Hydrogen

Raven SR Inc. (Raven SR), a renewable fuels company, announced today its collaboration with Republic Services Inc. to convert organic waste to produce green hydrogen at a site in Richmond, Calif.  Raven SR will initially process up to 99.9 tons of organic waste per day at Republic Services’ West Contra Costa Sanitary Landfill and produce up to 2,000 metric-tons per year of renewable hydrogen as well as power for its operations. Raven SR’s patented Steam/CO2 Reformation process enables it to be one of the only non-combustion, waste-to-hydrogen processes in the world. Additionally, Raven SR’s goal is to generate as much of its own power onsite to reduce burden on the grid.

The agreement will help move toward California’s goal of reducing emissions from organic waste under the state’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Reduction Strategy while also producing emission-free hydrogen fuel for passenger and heavy-duty vehicles.

For more information, click here.

Bioenergy and the Dairy Sector

California is the largest dairy state in the United States, providing a large share of the country’s milk and dairy products.  Unfortunately, dairies are also California’s largest source of methane emissions, a climate super pollutant.  Dairy manure can, however, be converted to carbon negative energy, eliminating methane emissions and providing negative carbon emissions instead.   According to the California Air Resources Board, investments in dairy digesters, which convert dairy waste to energy,  are the most effective and the most cost-effective of all of the state’s investments in carbon reductions.

California’s dairy cows produce enough waste to generate 550 megawatts of renewable electricity or more than 100 million gallons per year of carbon negative transportation fuels. Biomethane generated from dairy waste is the lowest carbon fuel of any in existence, more than 500 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel.  Dairy waste can also be used to generate flexible generation renewable power, which is critical to complement wind and solar power because it’s available 24/7 and can be stored and used as needed.  In addition to cutting methane emissions and producing renewable energy, converting dairy waste to energy reduces air and water pollution from dairies, cuts odors, and can provide revenue and onsite energy supplies to dairy farms.

To learn more, see Bioenergy and Dairies

SF Chronicle: Reduce Super Pollutants

Reduce super pollutants

The authors of “Carbon neutral not good enough” (Open Forum, July 31) are correct that we need to accelerate our climate goals, but they miss two critical issues: Reductions in carbon dioxide do not benefit the climate for several decades and there are much more urgent steps to cool the climate right away. It is far more urgent to focus on measures that begin to reverse climate change now.

Reducing climate super pollutants methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons benefits the climate and public health right away. These pollutants are tens to thousands of times more damaging to the climate than the carbon dioxide emitted by fossil fuel burning, but they only stay in the atmosphere a short time, so cutting their emissions benefits the climate immediately. We can cut these super pollutants by eliminating diesel use, converting organic waste to energy, and reducing wildfires and open burning of agricultural waste. We absolutely should phase out fossil fuels. But to avert the crisis that is already upon us, we need to focus much more on reducing methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons. Climate scientists agree that reducing these climate super pollutants is the last lever we have left to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Julia Levin, Kensington

The Letter to the Editor is available online (second letter) 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

 

CA Natural Gas Trucks Now Carbon Negative

Cummins Westport has just announced that natural gas vehicles in California have gone carbon negative!!  Natural gas vehicles are increasingly powered by renewable natural gas (RNG) generated from organic waste.  In 2020, those vehicles removed more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they emitted — the direct result of the increasing use of RNG.  RNG use is up more than 170% in the past five years, according to new data from California’s Air Resources Board (CARB), while the carbon intensity of natural gas derived from renewable sources continues to drop. RNG is increasingly made using methane captured from dairy and agricultural waste, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. By capturing gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, RNG can provide carbon negative emissions that are critical to achieve carbon neutrality.

Ninety-two percent of all on-road fuel used in natural gas vehicles in California last year was renewable natural gas and much of that RNG was carbon negative.

In addition to their negative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ultra-low NOx natural gas engines perform at levels that are 95 percent below the federal nitrogen oxide (NOx) standard and 98 percent below the federal particulate matter (PM 2.5) standard.   These are enormous benefits for public health as they reduce smog-forming pollution and toxic air contaminants that cause respiratory illnesses, cancer and other health impacts.

According to NGVAmerica, RNG used as a motor fuel in California in 2020 displaced 1.83 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). To put those numbers into perspective, California RNG motor fuel use:

  • lowered greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent amount generated by driving the average passenger car 4.6 billion miles
  • eliminated CO2 emissions, equal to 205.7 million gallons of gasoline consumed, or the energy use of 220,118 California homes in one year
  • sequestered the amount of carbon captured by 2.24 million acres of U.S. forests in one year

To learn more about ultra-low NOx trucks and RNG visit:  Cummins Westport

Bioenergy Critical to Climate

Bioenergy is critical to slow global warming right away and to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.  That’s because bioenergy can reduce the most damaging climate pollutants known as Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs).  Climate scientists agree that we have less than a decade left to avert catastrophic – and largely irreversible – climate change.  The most effective tool we have – the last lever we have left – is to reduce SLCP emissions.  And bioenergy can do that more effectively than other tools because it cuts methane and black carbon emissions – two of the most damaging SLCPs – from organic waste, including landfills and dairies, agricultural waste, and forest waste or other vegetation removed to reduce wildfire risks.  Bioenergy can also provide carbon negative emissions needed to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.  And, according to the California Air Resources Board, it provides the most cost-effective of all carbon emissions.

Read more about Bioenergy and Climate

Raven SR Announces Joint Venture to Build Hydrogen Fueling Hubs Across US

Raven SR LLC, a renewable fuels company, and Hyzon Motors Inc., a leading global supplier of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-powered commercial vehicles, today announced a joint venture to build up to 100 hydrogen hubs across the United States and globally. The first hubs will be built in the San Francisco Bay Area and are expected to commission in 2022 before expanding into the rest of the US and globally. At the hubs, which can be built at or near landfills, Raven SR will convert mixed and multiple organic wastes, including municipal solid waste, greenwaste, food waste, medical, paper, etc. into locally produced, renewable hydrogen for Hyzon’s fleet of zero-emission commercial vehicles.

Raven SR’s patented, Steam/CO2 Reformation process enables it to be one of the only combustion-free, waste-to-hydrogen processes in the world. Unlike alternative approaches to waste disposal, such as incineration or gasification, Raven SR’s process involves no combustion, as confirmed by the State of California EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances. This avoids the creation of toxic pollutants and particulates.

To learn more, see Raven Hyzon Hub Release FINAL