Category: Energy

Large energy storage project would create new reservoir above Isabella Lake

A $3 billion pumped-water energy storage project has been proposed along Isabella Lake that would help even out power delivery from California solar and wind farms at a volume and longevity dwarfing the large battery installations envisioned for eastern Kern. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is reviewing a Walnut engineering company’s plan to create a new reservoir above the lake then use pumps and underground pipes to turn it into a rechargeable dam and hydroelectric generator putting out a whopping 2,000 megawatts of power for up to 12 hours at a time.

Optimistically, the project could open within six years but remains in such an early stage that its environmental impacts haven’t been studied and its eventual owners or operators haven’t been identified, said the head of the company behind the proposal, Power Tech Engineers Inc., whose principals have experience with similar projects elsewhere. President Victor Rojas suggested the installation might serve best as a government asset even as it would serve electric utilities and their customers.

He said the U.S. Department of Energy has expressed interest in covering up to 70 percent of the project’s cost. The agency did not respond to an email Monday afternoon requesting confirmation of an offer of financial backing. Also, a FERC official reviewing Power Tech’s proposal could not be reached for comment. Pumped-storage hydroelectric, as such projects are known, is among many forms of energy storage under consideration as California looks to provide clean, renewably sourced power even when solar and wind installations aren’t generating electricity.

Gravity-powered projects like Power Tech’s proposal offer benefits and drawbacks different from the kind of batteries proposed to be sited alongside massive solar arrays planned for eastern Kern. Pumped-water storage offers huge scale and lifetime of maybe 100 years but it cannot instantaneously produce power and it disrupts large areas of habitat. Batteries immediately deliver when called on but have a relatively short life — generally less than two decades — and can’t provide electricity for more than a few hours at utility scale. For size comparison, 8minute Solar Energy’s 400-megawatt, more than $1 billion Eland photovoltaic array proposed in eastern Kern would come with 1,200 megawatt-hours of energy storage — just 5 percent the capacity of Power Tech’s pumped-water project.

Kern River Master Dana Munn, who oversees water storage and flow at Isabella Lake, expressed concern Power Tech’s project would interfere with the flow of water from the lake down the river. “A power plant will go on and it’ll essentially cause a fluctuation in the river,” he said. Rojas disputed that interpretation, saying the project would use a “closed-loop” design that shouldn’t affect the lake or the river much once it is equipped with between 30,000 and 40,000 acre-feet of water.

Membrane would be installed beneath the water’s downward flow to reduce water loss to percolation, he said, and there would be a covering above, possibly including solar panels, to limit evaporation. Rojas said three alternative sites are under consideration for siting the upper reservoir. If the “small lake” that would be created is deemed to have too great an impact on animals and plants there now, he said, “we’ll look somewhere else.” But his hope is that the benefit becomes clear. “Without projects like this the renewable energy solution won’t be possible,” he said. “We have to have a way to store the energy when the sun is not shining (and) the wind is not blowing.” He added that informational workshops for the public will be scheduled later allowing people to learn more about the project. He said Power Tech’s engineers, formerly with the Los Angeles Department of Water and power, have designed pumped-water energy projects in Castaic and elsewhere.

Rosemead-based utility Southern California Edison and the nonprofit California Independent System Operator, which operates the state’s power grid, said separately they were not familiar with Power Tech’s proposal but that they support a diverse mix of energy-storage projects. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. declined to comment on the project.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/large-energy-storage-project-would-create-new-reservoir-above-isabella-lake/article_a79ff7ee-4955-11eb-a6d5-5b06b053bb14.html

Tesla opens world’s largest Supercharger station

Tesla has been quickly expanding its Supercharger network lately and it just reached another milestone by opening the world’s new largest Supercharger station. It is located between two of Tesla’s biggest markets. Tesla’s fleet is growing at a fast pace and the automaker is adding more electric vehicles to the road than any other automaker. At the same time, the company is trying to keep up its infrastructure, like service centers, mobile service fleet, and charging infrastructure in order to support its growing fleet. Tesla’s charging infrastructure mainly consists of the Supercharger network, arguably one of the company’s greatest assets.

Recently, Tesla announced that it deployed its 20,000th charger in the Supercharger network. Now we’ve learned that Tesla has just opened a new Supercharger station that has become the new largest Supercharger station in the world:A few months ago, we reported on Tesla building the new Supercharger station in Firebaugh, California. We learned that Tesla was planning 56 Supercharger stalls at the new station — likely making it the largest Supercharger station in the world. Tesla has a few Supercharger stations with 50 stalls in China, but 56 is a new record. At 56 Superchargers, this new station will be six times bigger than Tesla’s average Supercharger station. It is located between the Bay Area and Los Angeles — two of Tesla’s biggest markets in the world. There is also a convenience store and a restaurant at the location that Tesla owners can patronize while they are charging.

Tesla has also built solar canopies to provide shade to the vehicles while also helping power the Supercharger station. The automaker has been promising to deploy more solar power capacity at Superchargers, but the rollout has been somewhat slow. CEO Elon Musk has been saying that Tesla will accelerate the deployment with the rollout of the Supercharger V3 stations, which started last year.

https://electrek.co/2020/11/14/tesla-opens-worlds-largest-supercharger-station/

Kern looks to seize economic benefits of carbon management

Momentum is building in the push to make Kern nationally competitive in carbon management, the emerging field of trying to slow climate change by removing or reducing greenhouse gases. The most ambitious project, now wrapping up initial design work and heading into permitting early next year, could put the state’s first carbon capture and sequestration project at the Elk Hills Power Plant in western Kern. Alternative fuels projects underway locally are also part of the county’s carbon-management portfolio, and agricultural land in the region could play a role as well. There’s also hope the county’s renewable energy portfolio will help it land investments in hydrogen fuels.

Lorelei Oviatt, the county planner spearheading the effort, sees the carbon-management industry as being in its infancy, much as renewable energy was when Kern embraced that field and became a leader in the state through a focus on permitting efficiency. Since the county Board of Supervisors voted early this year to add the field to its list of industries worthy of subsidy supports, Oviatt has begun working to understand environmental impacts of such work and ways of possibly cushioning them.

Oviatt sees a wealth of opportunities, based on a number of local strengths — a workforce well-suited to industrial labor, chemical safety expertise and proximity to renewable energy in the form of eastern Kern’s solar and wind farms. Another advantage is Kern’s inventory of open land. “When it’s time to build it, are you building it in San Jose? Are you building it in Santa Monica? No,” she said. But Oviatt has also identified local competitive disadvantages. Technologies dependent on ample water access probably won’t work locally, she noted, and Kern’s biggest competitor, Texas, doesn’t have to deal with an expensive state environmental review process that takes a year and a half.

Having become somewhat disillusioned by solar projects that have yielded little revenue for county government and only modest employment opportunities, she said her goal is not simply to prioritize large investments. Rather, it is to attract good-paying jobs and tax income to help make up for economic and financial losses expected to result locally from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s anti-oil policies. Because of carbon management’s environmental promise, it’s possible Sacramento’s goal of making California “carbon neutral” by 2045 may yet be of some benefit to Kern.

A report released in January by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory concluded the state can achieve that goal by burying or offsetting 125 megatons per year of carbon dioxide. It also pointed to a significant role for Kern. In addition to outlining land management practices and waste material processing, Livermore recognized local oil formations’ vast geologic capacity for permanently storing carbon dioxide. One such project, California Resource Corp.’s “CalCapture” initiative, is scheduled for a county environmental review in the first quarter of next year. The company hopes to see it operational by mid-decade.

The project is not intended to vacuum CO2 out of the atmosphere — an expensive and energy-intensive process that may eventually figure into the local economy. Rather, CalCapture would remove a large share of the compound from the emissions stream of CRC’s 550-megawatt Elk Hills Power Plant in the Tupman area. Early estimates were that the project, one of nine to receive recent financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy, would process 83 percent of the emissions from the plant’s chimneylike flue. Of that, 90 percent of the CO2 would be captured, trapped deep underground, and be used to displace oil and extend the life of the prolific Elk Hills Oil Field.

CRC said by email CalCapture is expected to generate nearly 3,500 jobs statewide and more than $200 million in taxes during its three-year construction period, plus 150 permanent jobs and $200 million in taxes over 20 years. “We are excited to advance this pioneering project that will make Kern County and our state a leader in CCS (carbon capture and sequestration) technology,” the company said.

Expanding on what carbon management might ultimately mean for the county, Oviatt noted that farmland can be used to manage carbon, too. That may involve transitioning to different crops, she said, or working with agricultural properties that might have to be taken out of production because of upcoming groundwater restrictions. Local production of alternative fuels can be considered carbon management, too, and that’s already happening, with more to come.

At least two local refineries — Kern Oil & Refining Co. and Crimson Renewable Energy LLC — produce renewable diesel in significant quantities. Crimson makes a biodiesel that can be stored in conventional fuel tanks and releases 80 percent less carbon. Also, this year it was announced a Torrance-based company had bought the former, 67,000-barrel-per-day refinery on Rosedale Highway. It said it plans to spend $365 million reopening the plant by early 2022 with about 100 employees producing 10,000 barrels per day of biodiesel from cooking oil. Later, it wants the refinery to make the product from a ground-cover plant called camelina.

Hydrogen energy is another aspect of carbon management that Oviatt said might hold promise locally. It’s a complex technology that can take many forms, she said, with one important requirement that the energy involved come from renewable energy, which Kern makes a lot of.

One advantage Kern has in that regard is a new partnership between Bakersfield College and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which Oviatt said is on the very cutting edge of carbon management. That partnership, she said, represents an “absolute new future for us.” “To have them here gives us national and international exposure,” she said.

Nautilus: transforming the data center industry

Nautilus Data Technologies is a global pioneer in water-cooled data centers and is leading a global transformation to ultra-efficient, high-performance and environmentally sustainable operations in the data center sector.

James Connaughton is the CEO at Nautilus. Having joined the organisation in March 2016, he has overseen the implementation of the world’s first water-cooled and water-borne data center with Nautilus. “There are two essential features,” explains Connaughton. “The first and most important feature is cooling with naturally cold water, which is how all other major infrastructure sectors address the large amounts of heat generated by their systems. These include, for example, thermal power plants, ships, industrial processing facilities, and paper mills. Only data centers, generate heat at a similar industrial scale, still use massive and unsustainable air-cooling systems. The second feature is mobility–the ability to prefabricate the data center in large modules, and either assemble them onto a barge and deliver it fully ready to go, or transport the modules to a prepared site for rapid assembly. Placing essential infrastructure on barges—such as energy barges and water treatment barges–is a well-established model for enabling rapid and flexible access to such infrastructure in fast growing and emerging markets. The opportunity and need is equally strong today when it comes to providing access to digital infrastructure to those who currently lack it.”

Connaughton believes data centers are the newest and most important component of critical infrastructure that sustains and enriches the lives of people around the world. “Data centers now stand alongside power generation, drinking-water plants, waste-water plants, roads and other critical infrastructure that allows society to function and create good outcomes for people,” he explains. “Access to the water molecule and the electron has long been vitally important. Worldwide access to the photon for data delivery is the next essential piece.” Over the past two years, Connaughton has overseen the development of the company’s first full-scale commercial facility, which provides six megawatts of water-cooled data center capacity on a barge. He strives for an innovative approach across all his operations. “We’ve been on the arc of creative invention and cleverly practical engineering to make that a reality,” says Connaughton. “The first part of our company’s life has focused on building a functional prototype, and then using that experience to make the thousands of decisions of what not to do against the several hundred decisions of what to do in bringing a full scale facility into being. We’re really excited to be commissioning that data center in California in just a few weeks time.”

Nautilus is planning to develop facilities in North America, Europe and Asia, and has been contacted by potential partners to pursue projects in the Middle East, Africa, and South America. “Once our data center in North Carolina is up and running, we look forward to onboarding a great set of anchor customers,” says Connaughton. “We will show the world the ultra-efficiency, high-performance, and the strong sustainability of our approach. After that, we are ready to rapidly move into other locations to “productize” the technology and we look forward to partnering through joint ventures and technology licensing so that we can get this important technology out into the world as quickly as possible.”

https://www.technologymagazine.com/brochure/nautilus-transforming-data-center-industry

Visalia tech converts dairy air into low-emission fuel

VISALIA – A Visalia company has successfully converted cow manure into a renewable natural gas. California Bioenergy, LLC (CalBio), based in Visalia, announced on Sept. 24 it had successfully achieved the first renewable natural gas (RNG) production from manure stored at dairy farms in Kern County.

“This technology will de-carbonize transportation fuels in the state,” CalBio CEO N. Russ Buckenham said. “When you run a heavy duty truck on RNG, it’s 90% cleaner than running that truck on diesel. And there are a lot of diesel trucks running up and down Highway 99. It’s a terrific benefit to cleaning the air and cleaning the sky.”

Manure stored on dairy farms results in the release of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, which causes the Earth’s atmosphere to trap in heat, a major component of climate change. The biomethane projects capture the methane into digesters, which works similar to your stomach, to convert solids into gas. The biogas is then sent to a centralized processing facility where it will be refined into RNG and injected into local utility SoCalGas’ pipeline. The RNG is then marketed as an alternative fuel for heavy-duty trucks and buses, and eventually off-road and farm equipment.

Last month’s announcement marks a significant milestone for CalBio, which has been at the technological forefront of converting dairy waste into renewable fuel since 2006. That’s when Buckenham, a technology engineer, partnered with Neil Black, a leader in environmental sustainability, to begin developing biodigester technologies for dairies. In 2013, CalBio launched the largest dairy digester in the state near Bakersfield in Kern County, the first project attempting to make the technology viable on a commercial scale.In the joint venture between CalBio, Chevron and dairy farmers, the Visalia company brought technology and operational experience to help build digesters and methane capture projects to convert this methane to a beneficial use as RNG. Chevron provided funding for digester projects across three geographic clusters in Kern, Tulare and Kings counties in additional to money invested by the dairies. As they are completed, these projects will mitigate the dairies’ methane emissions and reduce greenhouse emissions from livestock. Also last month, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved an underground pipeling connecting a dairy cluster in north Visalia with Southern California Gas Company’s (SoCalGas) utility pipeline. The clusters of digesters have been awarded California Department of Food and Agriculture grants, which must be augmented with additional capital to complete the projects.

Most of California’s large dairies are making plans to install digesters to capture biogas from their cow manure but are looking for a cleaner way to utilize this fuel. Biogas captured from cow manure contains approximately 65% methane, which has a 25 times greater impact on global warming than CO2 emissions and accounts for 105 of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, but is also a useful, renewable fuel. CalBio is directly involved in half of the 123 dairy digester projects in operation or development across the state. Ninety-four percent of those projects are at San Joaquin Valley dairies, 55 of which are in Tulare County. According to DairyCares.com, a single cow can generate enough renewable fuel to drive a car across the country. Five cows are enough to power a house for an entire year.

“These projects bring so many win-wins—they help create local jobs, improve local air quality by producing renewable natural gas for use in low-NOX emission fleets, and reduce dairy methane emissions,” Buckenham said. CalBioGas began the joint venture with Chevron last summer when it secured funding from the energy company to build infrastructure for dairy biomethane projects in California’s San Joaquin Valley, adding to the investment from dozens of dairy farmers. Chevron will also provide services to bring this product into the California vehicle fuels market.

Andy Walz, president of Chevron Americas Products, said the milestone demonstrates the company’s effort to increase renewables and to invest in lower-carbon technologies. “This is an exciting milestone that speaks to the capabilities and can-do attitude of our partners—CalBio and dairy farmers—to bring this RNG to the California vehicle fuels market,” Walz said. “Chevron is increasing RNG in support of our business and is making targeted investments and establishing partnerships, as we evaluate many emerging sources of energy and the role they will play in our portfolio. And as a proud California company, we are pleased that local communities in the state will benefit from this investment.”

CalBio is a leading developer of dairy digesters for generating renewable electricity and vehicle fuel in California. Founded in 2006, CalBio has worked closely with the dairy industry and state agencies to develop programs to help the state achieve its methane reduction goals while delivering a new revenue source to California dairies. For more information, visit: www.calbioenergy.com.

https://thesungazette.com/article/news/2020/10/21/visalia-tech-converts-dairy-air-into-low-emission-fuel/

GLOBAL CLEAN ENERGY HOLDINGS, INC. ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF BAKERSFIELD REFINERY

Source: Global Clean Energy Holdings, Inc.

BAKERSFIELD, California, May 08, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Global Clean Energy Holdings, Inc. (OTC: GCEH) announced that on May 7, 2020, through a subsidiary, it purchased Alon Bakersfield Properties, Inc., a subsidiary of Delek US Holdings, Inc. and the owner of the Alon Bakersfield Refinery. The total cash consideration paid to Delek US Holdings for the purchase was $40 million.

Alon Bakersfield Refinery is an existing oil refinery located in Bakersfield, California.  Historically, the refinery has produced diesel from crude oil.  GCEH will immediately commence retooling the refinery to produce renewable diesel from organic feedstocks such as vegetable oils. The facility, when repurposed as a renewable fuels refinery, will vertically integrate to produce renewable diesel from various feedstocks, including GCEH’s patented proprietary fallow land crop varieties of camelina. Traditionally, grown in rotation with wheat, camelina is cultivated as an alternative to fallow so as not to displace or compete with food crops. The balance of feedstock will be provided from various non-petroleum renewable feedstocks, such as used cooking oil, soybean oil, distillers’ corn oil, and others.

No petroleum processing of any kind will occur hereafter at the refinery, either during or following the retooling effort. Instead, the refinery will be repurposed to become a producer of low-carbon renewable fuels that meet the needs of the California Low Carbon Fuels Standard.  Fuels produced from the facility will result in significant reductions of both greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and local air pollutants like particulate matter. The retooling is expected to take between 18 to 20 months to complete, with the primary work being conducted by union trades through a local Bakersfield EPC contractor, ARB, Inc., a Primoris Services Corp subsidiary (NASDAQ: PRIM).  As an existing oil refinery, the refinery already has a significant portion of the necessary equipment in place for the production of renewable diesel. An estimated 100 union tradesmen from a diverse variety of crafts will be used to conduct a full turnaround and refurbishment of the necessary equipment to produce renewable diesel. Following startup, currently anticipated to be in late 2021, the repurposed refinery is expected to supply a meaningful portion of the demand for clean-burning alternative diesel fuels in California.

GCEH also announced that it has entered into two credit facilities to finance the work to be provided by ARB, Inc. and other construction companies, the clean-up of the site, the facilities’ operating costs, and other project costs during the construction and initial post-construction periods. Strategically located in Bakersfield within a large regional demand center, and only a short distance from the Los Angeles metropolitan area and the San Francisco Bay Area, fuels produced at the site will be available to be blended into the California transportation fuel mix.  The blended fuel will reduce the overall GHG emissions and other harmful local pollutants in the San Joaquin Valley and elsewhere in California.  GCEH’s plan is to have the renewable fuels that are produced at the facility sold to, and thereafter, marketed and distributed through various partnerships, including one with a multi-national oil major.

Richard Palmer, Chief Executive Officer of Global Clean Energy Holdings, commented, “We are thrilled to announce this exciting new venture in Bakersfield, California; a venture that leverages the region’s core competencies in agriculture and both traditional and alternative energy.” Mr. Palmer added, “we expect that this project will be a catalyst for economic development and will  generate both direct and indirect job opportunities in Kern County and the region.”

Certain matters discussed in this press release are “forward-looking statements” of Global Clean Energy Holdings, Inc. (herein referred to as “GCEH,” “we,” “us,” or “our”)  as that term is defined under the federal securities laws. We may, in some cases, use terms such as “believes,” “potential,” “continue,” “estimates,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “plans,” “intends,” “may,” “could,” “might,” “will,” “should” or other words that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes to identify these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, risks and uncertainties relating to the success and timing of the activities required to retool the Bakersfield refinery, the sufficiency of the funding available under the two credit facilities to complete the retooling and the startup of the Refinery, the cost and availability of feedstocks to be used in the repurposed renewable fuels refinery, general economic and business conditions, and other risks described in GCEH’s filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.  Forward-looking information is based on information available at the time and/or management’s good faith belief with respect to future events and is subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the statements. GCEH undertakes no obligation to update or revise any such forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that occur, or which GCEH becomes aware of, after the date hereof, except as required by applicable law or regulation.

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/05/08/2030327/0/en/GLOBAL-CLEAN-ENERGY-HOLDINGS-INC-ANNOUNCES-ACQUISITION-OF-BAKERSFIELD-REFINERY.html

 

SELF-DRIVING BUS BEING BUILT PARTLY IN PORTERVILLE

Westlands Solar Park begins construction

CIM Group announced recently that it is advancing the development of Westlands Solar Park in Kings County, one of the largest permitted solar parks in the world. The solar park could grow to more than 2,700-megawatts (2.7 gigawatts) of renewable energy potential at full build out, which could provide clean energy to more than 1.2 million homes, said a press release from CIM Group. The master-planned energy park encompasses more than 20,000 acres in the Central Valley in western Fresno County and Kings County, southwest of Lemoore, and is designed to open in phases to meet the needs of public and private utilities and other energy consumers.

https://hanfordsentinel.com/news/westlands-solar-park-begins-construction/article_10d4e8a6-e0fc-585f-b7f1-39dd45cafaf8.html

NATION’S LARGEST SOLAR FARM PLANNED SOUTH OF PORTERVILLE

The nation’s largest solar farm is in the works south of Porterville. The big facility is planned on farmland with a water deficit, perhaps a glimpse of the future for some marginal ag land here. Tulare County released a Notice of Preparation (NOP) Feb. 14 announcing the big renewable energy project. Built on 3,800 acres scattered near the town of Ducor, the Rexford Solar Farm will be rated at 700 megawatts in addition to 700 megawatts of energy storage. The solar arrays would eclipse the state’s biggest solar farm in San Luis Obispo — the 550-megawatt Topaz facility built in 2011.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/nations-largest-solar-farm-planned-south-of-porterville/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=99b60615ca-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_02_17_08_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-99b60615ca-78934409&mc_cid=99b60615ca&mc_eid=a126ded657

In Lathrop, it’s Time for Solar Sausages

Pizza toppings are made out of many ingredients but now, in Lathrop, they’re being made with solar power. The Hormel Foods Swiss American Sausage Company plant in Lathrop is now making a variety of pepperoni and salami for foodservice pizza toppings with power from 2,000 solar panels installed on both the plant roof and on the ground. The project is projected to generate roughly 1.2 million kilowatt hours per year – enough to supply more than 15 percent of the plant’s annual electricity consumption. IGS Solar partnered with Holt Renewables LLC to install the solar array, which is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 288 metric tons per year,  equivalent to removing 61 cars from the road annually or avoiding burning over 314,000 pounds of coal.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/04bea1e5-526d-41c8-8305-eff7a6f5ded0.pdf