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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

WATCH: CalBio Opens Kern County’s First Dairy RNG Project

CalBio hosted a virtual opening of its dairy digester cluster project in Kern County.  This is the first dairy waste to Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) project in Kern County and will provide many benefits to the County and beyond, including production of carbon negative fuel that can replace diesel, improvements to air and water quality, job creation, and economic development.

Watch the video of this exciting event here.

To learn more, see CalBio’s press release:  CalBio Dairy Cluster Biogas to RNG Project

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.

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.

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.”

CEC Adopts Clean Transportation Funding Program

The California Energy Commission has adopted a new Clean Transportation Funding Plan (formerly known as the ARFVTP or AB 118 program) for 2019-2020.  The overall funding remains at $100 million annually, but the CEC cut biofuels funding from $20 million to $10 million.  The biofuels funding is now limited to low carbon, waste-based fuels and renewable hydrogen.

To read the full plan, see CEC’s 2019-20 Clean Transportation Funding Plan.

Legislative Analyst Critiques State’s Transportation Climate Programs

In December 2018, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released reports on the state’s climate change mitigation programs.  The reports noted a lack of coordination across programs, significant duplication, and a number of programs that are not cost-effective or effective at all.  The LAO singled out the state’s transportation programs in a stand-alone report that shows that most of the state’s programs are failing to show measurable progress, particularly the state’s investments in zero-emission vehicles.  The LAO report found that the only transportation sector that has made progress in reducing climate emissions is the heavy duty sector and that those are also the most cost-effective investments in climate and air pollution reductions.

Read the full report here: LAO climate-policies-transportation-122118

Biofuels Coalition Opposes LCFS Infrastructure Credit

In recent amendments to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, the California Air Resources Board has proposed giving Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credit to hydrogen and electric vehicle fueling stations, whether or not they provide low carbon fuels and regardless of the carbon intensity of the hydrogen or power provided.  BAC and other biofuels producers submitted a joint letter objecting to this proposal as it would undercut the core strength of the LCFS program, which is based solely on the lifecycle carbon intensity of fuels.  Picking technology winners and losers takes away the performance (science) based foundation of the LCFS program and makes if far less likely to achieve the state’s carbon and petroleum reduction goals.

See Biofuels Coalition letter on LCFS