Biomass News Roundup

By Biomass Magazine | January 19, 2023

Vision RNG LLC announced a renewable natural gas (RNG) agreement with the Laurel Ridge Landfill in Corbin, Kentucky. Owned by Laurel Ridge Landfill LLC, a subsidiary of Waste Connections Inc., the project will use 1,800 cubic feet per minute of landfill gas (LFG) and construction is scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2024. The project will annually produce 450,000 MMBtu of RNG that will be injected into a nearby natural gas transmission pipeline. The RNG will be used by various customers across the U.S for transportation fuel and other sustainability purposes.

Énergir Development, a diversified energy business, and Nature Energy, a biogas plant owner/operator, are joining forces to jointly develop biomethanization plants in Quebec. Under the agreement, Énergir and Nature Energy will develop and implement up to 10 projects, producing up to 200 million cubic meters of RNG per year. The projects would supply one-third of Quebec’s 2030 RNG target.

The governments of Ontario and Canada are investing more than $11.3 million to expand CHAR Technologies’ High Temperature Pyrolysis facility in Thorold, Ontario, to produce RNG and biocarbon, creating the largest facility of its kind in Canada, and the only RNG facility in the country to exclusively use woody biomass. Joint funding is being made available through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation Program, as well as Ontario’s  Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program. The new facility will produce 10,000 metric tons of biocarbon annually, and enough RNG to heat over 5,500 homes.

The USDA on Dec. 15 awarded $285 million to 844 projects under the Rural Energy for America Program. The agency also announced it is offering an additional $300 million in REAP funding, including $250 million allocated through the Inflation Reduction Act. Out of the project awardees, many bioenergy projects received funding, including four biogas/RNG projects.

New York-based East Branch RNG LLC was awarded a $249,000 grant to support the purchase and installation of a biogas plant that will produce RNG from dairy manure.

Indiana-based Biotown Biogas LLC was awarded a $249,999 grant to support a project to collect and clean methane gas from dairy waste and install a compressor system to generate RNG for sale into the transportation market.

Aemetis Biogas LLC was awarded a $25 million loan to provide long-term financing for the construction of six anaerobic digesters and associated pipelines as part of the Aemetis biogas project in California.

Fiscalini Alpha LLC, a cheese company located in California, was awarded a $249,900 grant to help offset the costs associated with installing anaerobic digesters to produce biogas.

Topsoe, a global leader in carbon emission reduction technologies, announced its involvement as a partner in Europe’s largest green fuel project for shipping, FlagshipONE. The news follows a final investment decision by the project owner, Danish energy company Ørsted. Topsoe will provide engineering, procurement and fabrication for the project’s eMethanol technology.  The plant will be built in northern Sweden and is expected to be operational in 2025, producing approximately 50,000 tons per year of eMethanol from renewable energy and biogenic CO2.

In early December, the U.S. EPA released a final rule to create canola oil fuel pathways under the Renewable Fuel Standard for renewable diesel, jet fuel, naphtha, liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and heating oil produced via a hydrotreating process.

In the rule, the EPA said these fuel pathways meet the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction threshold of 50% required to generate D4 biomass-based diesel and D5 advanced biofuel renewable identification numbers (RINs) under the RFS. Based on that determination, the agency is adding the canola oil fuel pathways to the list of approved pathways in the RFS regulations. Under the rule, renewable diesel, jet fuel and heating oil produced with canola are eligible to generate D4 RINs if they are produced through a hydrotreating process that does not coprocess renewable biomass and petroleum, and for D5 RINs if they are produced through a process that does coprocess renewable biomass and petroleum. Naphtha and LPG production from canola oil using a hydrotreating process are also eligible to generate D5 RINs.

The U.S. EPA has approved a fuel pathway that allows Chevron U.S.A. Inc. to generate D6 RINs under the Renewable Fuel Standard for several biofuels produced from soybean oil via coprocessing with petroleum at its refinery in El Segundo, California (Chevron El Segundo Soy FFC Pathways). Chevron’s petition, filed in September 2020, originally sought approval for a D5 advanced biofuel pathway. Work by the agency to consider the D5 pathway continues.

According to documents released by the EPA, Chevron petitioned the agency to approve a facility-specific pathway for the generation of D5 RINs for renewable gasoline, renewable gasoline blendstock, renewable jet fuel and nonester renewable diesel fuel produced from soybean oil through coprocessing with petroleum feedstocks in the fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit of the El Senundo refinery. Based on its assessment, the EPA said that renewable gasoline, renewable gasoline blendstock, renewable jet fuel, and renewable diesel produced through the Chevron Segundo Soy FCC Pathways qualify to generate D6 RINs, provided Chevron adheres to conditions specified by the agency, and that the fuel meets other definitional and RIN generation requirements for renewable fuel specified by the RFS regulations.

Clean Energy Fuels Corp., the largest provider of clean fuel for the transportation market, announced the opening of an RNG fueling station that will provide an anticipated 1.4 million gallons of the fuel annually for Amazon and other truck fleets in the greater Chicago area. Located in Romeoville, the station is part of an agreement between Clean Energy and Amazon for Clean Energy to build 19 stations nationwide. The station initially will fuel more than 100 Amazon trucks and is designed with sufficient fueling capacity to accommodate several hundred more trucks.

Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc. announced that it has successfully produced a low-carbon synthetic crude oil using landfill waste as feedstock at its Sierra BioFuels Plant near Reno, Nevada, which the company believes is the world’s first commercial-scale landfill waste-to-fuels plant. Fulcrum said it is making progress on its planned growth program, which it expects will have the capacity to produce approximately 400 million gallons of net-zero carbon transportation fuel annually. The company’s development program includes the Centerpoint BioFuels Plant in Gary, Indiana, the Trinity Fuels Plant in the Texas Gulf Coast region, and the NorthPoint project in the United Kingdom.

Golden State Natural Resources, a California-based nonprofit public benefit corporation, is developing two industrial wood pellet projects within the state as part of its effort to increase forest resiliency and reduce the risk of catastrophic forest fires. GSNR has purchased sites in Tuolumne County and Lassen County. The planned capacity of the Tuolumne site is 300,000 tons per year, with the Lassen site expected to produce 700,000 tons per year. Wood pellets produced at the proposed plants will be railed to port for export.

GSNR President and CEO Greg Norton discussed the project during a virtual public scoping meeting held Dec. 6. Norton said GSFA is currently targeting the summer of 2023 for completion of the environmental impact report certification and financial close for the projects. Construction of the pellet plants would begin soon after, with completion currently expected in November 2024. The plants could begin commissioning in January 2025. In-forest work is expected to begin in mid-2023, allowing the company to build an inventory of biomass feedstock.

A proposed wood pellet plant in Vermont has been awarded funding by the USDA’s Rural Energy for American Program. PK Wood Pellet LLC was awarded $450,000 in grant funding to support the purchase and installation of equipment necessary to start a new wood pellet production facility. The facility is expected to have the capacity to produce 30,000 tons of pellets annually.

Enviva held a ceremonial ribbon cutting at its recently opened marine export terminal at the Port of Pascagoula, Mississippi. Enviva owns and operates the deep-water marine terminal in the Bayou Casotte Harbor in Jackson County in partnership with Jackson County Port Authority. Since 2019, the Port Authority and Enviva have invested over $90 million to build the terminal, which can receive product by rail, barge and truck as well as support Panamax-sized vessels. The facility includes two wood pellet storage domes with a total storage capacity of 90,000 metric tons. Enviva plans to export wood pellets from the now fully operational Port of Pascagoula terminal to power and utility customers across Asia, Europe and the Caribbean, with a majority of the terminal’s future shipments slated for Japan.

The U.K. government on Dec. 13 announced £25 million ($29.9 million) in funding to support technologies that can produce hydrogen from sustainable biomass and waste while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The funding is being offered as part of the U.K.’s effort to support clean energy production and mitigate high energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and aims to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen from bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECSS).  The U.K. Department of Business and Industrial Strategy said hydrogen BECSS technologies are expected to play a key role in meeting the country’s net-zero emissions goal. The announced funding will go directly toward progressing BECCS projects from the design stage to demonstration.

Renewables are expected to account for 22% of U.S. electricity generation in 2022, increasing to 24% in 2023, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, released Dec. 6. Renewables accounted for 20% of electricity generation in 2021. The electric power sector is expected to have 5,994 MW of biomass power in place by the end of this year, including 3,560 MW of waste biomass capacity and 2,435 MW of wood biomass capacity. Biomass capacity is expected to expand to 6,009 MW by the end of next year, including 3,590 MW of waste biomass capacity and 2,419 MW of wood biomass capacity.

The owner of eight biomass power plants in the Northeast U.S. has filed for bankruptcy, according to court documents. On Sept. 15, Stored Solar Enterprises filed for Chapter 11 in the District of Maine, reporting assets of $50 to $100 million, and liabilities of $10 million to $50 million. The plants listed in the filing, located in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, were sold through a court agreement to Hartree Partners, a global merchant commodities firm specializing in energy, one of the company’s largest creditors. The bankruptcy did not include Ryegate Power Station in Vermont. Local news outlets report plans are to resume operations at the plants in 2023.

Among the 844 projects awarded a collective $285 million through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program, several biomass heat and power projects were awarded funding. These projects include:

-Milligan Farms LLC, located in Michigan, will receive $98,529 in grant funding to support the purchase and installation of a biomass burner to replace a propane-fueled grain dryer.

-In New Hampshire, Berger’s Springledge Nursery and Produce was awarded $94,979 in grant funding to support the purchase and installation of a solar array and wood chip boiler system. The biomass boiler is expected to offset the use of 7,900 gallons of No. 2 fuel oil per year.   

-Tennessee-based New River Hardwoods Inc. was awarded $250,000 in grant funding. The grant will, in part, support the installation of a biomass boiler system used for curing operations.

-A $20,000 grant awarded to Erik’s LLC DBA Mill Creek Gardens LLC will support the installation of a biomass boiler. The system is expected to reduce both electricity and natural gas use by the company.

The Biomass Power Association on Dec. 22 commended Congress for passing two bills that recognize the benefits of biomass as a source of renewable electricity. The National Defense Appropriations Act of 2023 contains language requiring the U.S. Department of Defense to consider biomass a “renewable energy source,” and the Omnibus Appropriations bill contains a provision directing the federal government to recognize the carbon benefits of biomass.