US-headed renewable natural gas (RNG) and renewable fuels company Aemetis, Inc has announced that it has signed a Master Developer Agreement with the City of Riverbank. California (CA) to lease/purchase the 125-acre former military base in Riverbank, known as the Riverbank Industrial Complex, an industrial site with 710 000 square feet of production buildings, four miles of railroad, and a power substation.
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The Riverbank facility features 710 000 square feet of existing buildings, a four-mile railroad loop with 120 railcar storage capacity, and an onsite hydroelectric substation with 100 percent low carbon hydroelectric power. The site has received more than US$72 million of federal funding for facility upgrades and remediation since being decommissioned as an army base.
Aemetis plans to build the “Carbon Zero 1” sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel biorefinery at the site.
The plant is designed to use hydroelectric and other renewable power available onsite to produce 90 million (US) gallons (≈ 340.6 million litres) per year of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), renewable diesel, and other byproducts.
The plant is expected to supply the aviation and truck markets with ultra-low carbon renewable fuels to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other pollutants associated with conventional petroleum-based fuels.
Former ammunition facility
The Riverbank Industrial Complex was an ammunition production facility employing about 3 500 people and has been converted to civilian use, including approximately 35 companies employing around 650 people.
Under the terms of the Master Developer Agreement and as the owner of the properties as parcels are transferred, Aemetis will manage current tenants, utilize existing production facilities for new tenants or as production facilities, and develop vacant portions of the site with planned renewable fuels and carbon sequestration facilities.
According to Aemetis, a federal job study estimated 2 014 direct and indirect jobs will be created as a result of developing the Aemetis biofuels plant.
This project, from staff’s perspective, has significant potential to create an industrial job center for not only Riverbank, but the whole region, said City Manager Sean Scully during the City Council meeting on December 14, 2021 in which the agreement was unanimously approved.
In mid-2018 after a competitive review process, the City of Riverbank selected Aemetis as the master developer and acquirer of the Riverbank Industrial Complex property. The City of Riverbank has managed the complex since the military leased the site to the City for conversion from military to private use.
I’ve often stated that the City of Riverbank should not be in the business of running the Industrial Complex. Finding the right entity to take over that task and come up with a deal that was good for all was at times very painful – and highly rewarding. We are truly grateful to form this partnership. There’s nothing like this effort locally and this project has regional significance, said Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien.
Convert orchard waste to renewable fuels
The Aemetis agreement to acquire the Riverbank Industrial Complex paves the way for a clean energy economic and environmental renaissance in the California Central Valley.
The Aemetis Carbon Zero facility is designed to support almond and other orchard farmers to dispose of wood waste by converting a portion of the 3 billion pounds of annual orchard wood waste into negative carbon intensity (CI), renewable hydrogen used in SAF and renewable diesel fuel production.
Aemetis has received a grant for US$5 million from the California Energy Commission (CEC) for the engineering and construction of biofuels production facilities at the Riverbank site.
Aemetis recently signed US$2.1 billion of SAF supply agreements with Delta Air Lines to supply 250 million gallons (≈ 946.25 million litres) under a 10-year agreement and with American Airlines to supply 280 million gallons (≈ 1.06 billion litres) for delivery to San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
In addition to American, Aemetis has also signed Memoranda of Understanding for SAF with seven other oneworld Alliance airline members.
Aemetis has now also secured a US$3 billion renewable diesel agreement with “a large travel stop company” to supply 450 million gallons under a 10-year agreement to California fueling locations.