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West Biofuels secures US$1.5M for Californian bioenergy projects

West Biofuels secures US$1.5M for Californian bioenergy projects
West Biofuels, LLC has secured US$1.5 million in grant funding from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) of which US$1.2 million is toward the Hat Creek Bioenergy facility currently under construction (photo courtesy West Biofuels).

In the United States (US), West Biofuels, LLC has announced that it has secured US$1.5 million in grant funding from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase the sustainable use of forest products while promoting innovation and bolstering local economies. The Woodland, California-based company engineers, procures, and constructs (EPC) and operates and maintains biomass facilities.

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According to a statement, approximately US$1.2 million in funding from the Community Wood Energy Grant Program was awarded to their latest project, the Hat Creek Bioenergy facility in  Burney, CA, which is expected to be operational in the spring of 2024.

The federal program funds the installation of thermally led community wood energy systems or the building of innovative wood product manufacturing facilities.

The funding also included US$300 000 from the Wood Innovation Grant Program for a planned bioenergy facility in Mariposa, CA. The federal program expands wood energy markets and traditional wood utilization projects and promotes utilizing wood as a construction material in commercial, institutional, and multifamily buildings.

The bioenergy facilities in Burney and Mariposa are each expected to produce 3 MW of clean power per year by converting forest organic byproducts – once considered waste – into renewable electricity, heat, and biochar.

Specifically, the Hat Creek Bioenergy Facility is estimated to source approximately 30 000 bone-dry tonnes of forest waste per year.

We appreciate the federal government’s recognition and investment. With their support, West Biofuels can transform California’s forest waste into clean, renewable energy that powers communities and reduces wildfire risk. Our innovative bioenergy facilities also help stimulate rural economic growth and advance California’s ambitious climate goals, so we’re proud to help solve some of our state’s most pressing challenges, said Kristen Decker, Chief Financial Officer of West Biofuels.

The announcement follows similar grant awards to West Biofuels from the California Energy Commission (CEC), including:

  • US$3 million for producing pipeline-grade renewable natural gas (RNG) and value-added chemicals from forest biomass residue. This grant was completed, and West Biofuels’ demonstration will support commercial-scale fuel production projects and further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transportation sector (FRD-17-005).
  • US$2 million for demonstrating a robust, efficient, and environmentally sound Biomass Combined Heat and Power (BCHP) system for commercial deployment in the agricultural processing sector in California. This grant is in progress, and West Biofuels is currently testing the pilot system with various agricultural feedstocks (PIR-11-008).
  • US$1 million for developing renewable fuel ethanol and value-added chemicals from woody biomass residue. This grant was completed, and West Biofuels demonstrated that substituting out-of-state corn ethanol for in-state biomass is over four times less carbon-intensive (ARV-15-017).
  • US$1 million for renewable natural gas production from woody biomass via gasification and fluidized-bed methanation. The pilot project grant was completed, and the University of California, San Diego, and West Biofuels confirmed that benefits on a commercial scale would reduce GHG emissions, fossil fuel imports, and costs associated with methanation, syngas cooling and cleaning, and installed facility capital. Other benefits included increased energy security, job creation, technology development, and forest management support (PIR-14-023).

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