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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)

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 member Anaergia wins $5 million CEC grant !!

Anaergia’s Rialto facility has received a $5 million award from the California Energy Commission to convert organic waste to carbon negative transportation fuels.  The project will help the state to meet its Short-LIved Climate Pollutant reduction requirements and will provide benefits to air quality, local economic development and clean energy jobs. When complete, the project will divert 85,800 tons per year of food waste from California landfills.  It will convert that waste to more than 2.5 million diesel gallon equivalents (DGE) of carbon-negative RNG per year. That RNG will be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle fleets operated by the University of California, Anaheim Public Utilities, and regional fleets served by Southwest Gas. It will also create 30 temporary and 14 permanent, high-paying, full-time union jobs.

For more information about the award, click here.

BAC Comments on CalRecycle SB 1383 Regulations

BAC submitted comments on CalRecycle’s October 2019 draft of regulations to implement the  organic waste diversion requirements of SB 1383.  CalRecycle expanded the list of eligible alternatives to landfilling to include electricity, heating, and vehicle production from diverted organic waste.  The draft regulations also include electricity generation from biomass conversion, but the October draft deleted pipeline biogas, which could exclude the use of biogas for cooking, commercial and industrial purposes.

See BAC Comments on Proposed Changes to Organics Regs (Oct 18, 2019)

CalRecycle Released Nearly Final SB 1383 Regulations

SB 1383 (Lara, 2016) requires local jurisdictions to divert 50 percent of organics going to landfills by 2020 and 75 percent by 2025.   In October, CalRecycle released the nearly final regulations to implement these requirements.  The regulations focus on procurement of bioenergy or compost as the compliance mechanism and establish specific procurement amounts.  For bioenergy, the draft regulations allow conversion of diverted organic waste to electricity, heating, and vehicle fuel.  The draft regulations also allow biomass conversion to electricity.

See, SLCPFormalProposedRegulationTextOct2019

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Releases Important Bioenergy/Biochar Study

Bioenergy and its byproducts – biochar or digestate – can reduce powerful Short-Lived Climate Pollutants and restore carbon to the soil, which are two of most urgent steps needed to reverse climate change.  An important study just released by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab shows that the biochar and digestate produced as a byproduct of bioenergy, can provide half or more of all the carbon needed to return California’s natural and working lands to net carbon sinks.  This is a critical piece of California’s overall climate strategy and the study by LBNL shows that biochar and digestate can provide a really significant part of the solution.

See Biochar and Digestate in Carbon-Negative Bioenergy

BAC Comments on CPUC Microgrid Proceeding

BAC submitted comments in late October on the CPUC’s Order Instituting Rulemaking.  BAC urged the Commission to address the need for baseload and flexible generation, to consider opportunities to convert local organic waste to local energy supplies, to include renewable gas for microgrid reliability, to consider the importance of Short-Lived Climate Pollutant reductions, and to consider other upstream benefits like wildfire mitigation and landfill reduction.  BAC’s comments are on BAC’s website.

The CPUC is expected to issue the Scoping Ruling in early 2020 and to complete the development of the microgrid framework by the end of 2020.

See R.19-09-009 BAC Comments on OIR

CPUC Opens New Proceeding on Microgrids

In September, the CPUC launched a new proceeding to develop a policy framework for microgrids.  Microgrids are defined areas of the grid that can operate as part of the larger grid and can also be completely disconnected from (operate independently from) the larger electricity grid.  Microgrids include the energy producers, transmission and distribution lines, and energy end users that are within a defined electricity boundary.  The goal of establishing microgrids is to enable communities to have a fully independent grid that can operate even when there are disturbances to the regional grid.  The recent Public Safety Power Shutoffs have underscored the urgency of developing microgrids, especially for essential services like firefighters and police, hospitals, wastewater treatment, communications, and more.

The CPUC launched the new proceeding to develop the framework for commercializing microgrids.  It will consider the appropriate standards, eligible technologies, rates, tariffs and other issues for microgrid development in California.

See the CPUC’s Order Instituting this new Rulemaking:  OIR on Microgrids Rulemaking (R.19-09-009)

CalBio Partners with Bloom Energy to Convert Dairy Waste to Power Without Combustion

California Bioenergy and Bloom Energy have announced a collaboration to convert dairy waste into renewable electricity without combustion.   CalBio’s dairy digester technology with Bloom Energy’s solid oxide fuel cell technology will capture dairy methane and use it to generate renewable electricity that will power electric vehicles (EVs) throughout California.  The CalBio-Bloom Energy solution not only produces clean electricity, it also removes methane that would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere. Capturing and utilizing waste methane is a powerful way to positively and quickly impact climate change.

How It Works
CalBio digesters capture biogas, primarily consisting of methane, released from the anaerobic decomposition of dairy manure. CalBio’s technology also separates hydrogen sulfide from the biogas. The biogas is then converted to renewable electricity in a Bloom Energy Server through an electrochemical process. The Bloom Energy Server is the world’s most efficient electricity generator. It produces twice as much electricity as conventional combustion generators using the same amount of biogas.   Once generated, all of the renewable electricity can be transmitted via the electric grid to EV charging stations throughout California.

Today, emissions generated by EV charging vary according to when EVs are plugged in to charge. For example, at night, California draws the largest portion of its electricity from burning natural gas or from imported power, including coal, so EV charging may not be very clean at all. Going forward, any EV network buying electricity from a CalBio-Bloom Energy dairy project will be able to provide their customers renewable electricity.

The Potential
There is an estimated 320 megawatts of economically viable dairy biogas in California. With significant deployments of dairy digesters occurring throughout the California dairy industry, there is need for an on-site power generation solution that uses the captured biogas to generate renewable electricity without combustion.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction in California
The state of California has set ambitious goals to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions, including methane. In order to advance these goals, the state provides grants and sets policy through the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Both small and large dairies deploying the new CalBio-Bloom Energy biogas solution will be eligible to apply for CDFA grants. CARB’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), meanwhile, creates value for low carbon fuels, enabling EV charging operators to buy the renewable energy credits generated by dairy farmers to meet carbon reduction goals.

Air Quality Benefits
California’s Central Valley, and especially the San Joaquin Valley, where many dairies are located, has some of the worst air quality in the United States, as well as the highest rates of childhood asthma in California. Using fuel cells to generate electricity from dairy biogas, instead of combustion engines, eliminates smog-forming emissions, and improves air quality and public health. Charging more EVs with renewable electricity will contribute to air quality improvements throughout California, called for under the Governor’s Executive Order for five million zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

Executive Quotes
“The urgency of the fight against climate change and unhealthy air quality requires us to slash potent, super-pollutant emissions, including methane from agriculture, and get combustion out of our energy and transportation systems,” said Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board. “This solution is a trifecta – slashing methane, avoiding combustion from electricity generation, and supporting our transition to electrified transportation.”

“Our California dairy families play a critical role in producing nutritious, high-quality milk and dairy products, while, at the same time, engaging in air, water, and environmental sustainability efforts,” said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “This is a great example of the partnerships needed to advance technologies from the Silicon Valley and agriculturally rich Central Valley in order to move the needle further in renewable energy from dairies.”

“While the San Joaquin Valley is already subject to the most stringent air quality regulations in the nation, innovative programs such as this, which assist in deploying the latest clean air technologies, play a vital role in addressing the Valley’s air quality challenges,” said Samir Sheikh, air pollution control officer and executive director for The San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District.

“In bringing together the best technology from Silicon Valley with the best technology from the Central Valley, we’re really doing something special for California,” said N. Ross Buckenham, CEO of CalBio. “With Bloom, we have found an ultra-clean “on-dairy” biogas system that can scale from small to large dairies, with attractive economics for capture and utilization of methane. We’ll create local jobs, generate income for dairy farmers, help the environment by reducing greenhouse gases and fossil fuel consumption and greatly improve local air quality.”    

“To achieve its ambitious climate goals, California has to embrace every innovation that can make a difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said KR Sridhar, founder, chairman, and CEO of Bloom Energy. “We’re proud to be tackling both the causes and consequences of climate change through this innovative collaboration with CalBio, and through the clean energy that Bloom provides to California businesses every day.”

University of California Buys Biogas To Meet Zero Carbon Goal !

The University of California has announced an exciting partnership with Anaergia to buy $42 million worth of biogas from Anaergia’s Rialto facility in Southern California.  The UC System is making the purchase as part of its plan to reach carbon neutrality – zero net carbon emissions – by mid century.  When fully built, the Rialto biogas facility will be the largest organic waste to energy facility in the country and will help California to meet its landfill reduction, methane reduction and clean energy goals.  Anaergia’s facility will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 220,000 metric tons per year, the equivalent of taking 46,700 cars off the road.

See the University of California announcement and a video about the project here.