Phoenix Energy to build California biomass gasification plant
Phoenix Energy announced it has signed agreements to build and operate a biomass gasification plant near Lake Tahoe, Calif. The 2-MW plant will utilize forest biomass from Placer County’s fire threat reduction activities to make electricity, heat and biochar—a solid carbon byproduct that is used as a soil conditioner and filter media.
The plant will be the first to use forest-based fuel in California. The Lake Tahoe project is Phoenix Energy’s third biomass gasification plant in state and when fully operational it will be the company’s largest plant.
“I believe there is a great opportunity for small community scale biomass plants to produce clean renewable energy for California and our third plant shows the technology is gaining momentum,” said Phoenix Energy CEO Gregory Stangl.
In an effort to reduce forest fire risk and improve air quality, Placer County has been seeking to develop an alternative to open burning of large biomass piles. The recent massive Rim Fire in California’s high sierras gave renewed emphasis to finding a better solution to managing that risk. “The piling and burning forest biomass in the open is a complete waste of a resource and bad for air quality – but it is often the only economic option for local communities. This plant will serve as a path towards a more sustainable outcome while providing local jobs and local energy,” said Stangl.
Brett Storey, Placer County’s biomass coordinator said, “after years of effort we are delighted to have an environmentally superior way of managing forest health and fire risk than what has been the norm. To reduce fire risk in an economical way while creating jobs and bringing investment in the County is a great bonus.”
Phoenix Energy is an independent power producer that operates a network of small, distributed biomass gasification plants in partnership with businesses and communities. By focusing on small plants in the 1-3 MW range the company strives to keep electricity, heat and fuel local to the plant where the value of energy is highest and transportation costs avoided. The gasification technology also produces biochar, which serves to permanently sequester carbon in solid form and is valued as a soil conditioner and filter media.