Compressed-air energy proposal in east Kern comes up for state review

State review is officially underway on a major energy-storage project near Rosamond that would use compressed air, thermal engineering and hydrostatic force to even out delivery of renewable power and make the state’s electrical grid more resilient. At a cost estimated at $975 million, the 500-megawatt, 4,000-megawatt-hour proposal would take electrons from renewable energy sources nearby to power air compression and underwater injection. When energy is needed later, air would be released upward to run a turbine generator. Heat would be removed early then returned later in the process.

Named the Gem Energy Storage Center, the Canadian-led project would be one of the largest of its kind on the planet, a new-generation infrastructure investment to help meet California’s huge need for large-scale energy storage. “Gem’s quick-starting, flexible and dispatchable long-duration energy supply will have the ability to ramp-up and down through a wide range of electrical output,” Toronto-based Hydrostor said in a Dec. 1 news release announcing its local subsidiary had filed an application for certification from the California Energy Commission. Added CEO Curtis VanWalleghem: “We look forward to working closely with the citizens of Kern County to earn their trust and support on our way to becoming a valued member of the community.” Besides widening Kern’s already diverse energy portfolio, Hydrostor said, the project would create 30 to 40 good-paying, full-time jobs, plus 700 construction jobs, all without emissions.

Gem is slated to open in early 2026 after a four-year construction period, and thereafter generate property tax revenues and $500 million in regional economic benefits over its 50-year lifespan. The project has a little longer discharge capacity than a similar energy-storage proposal in San Luis Obispo that Hydrostor recently brought before the energy commission.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/compressed-air-energy-proposal-in-east-kern-comes-up-for-state-review/article_576b63ae-547f-11ec-88cd-7f4089f7bd01.html

MENDOTA TO HOST LARGEST GREEN HYDROGEN PLANT ON WEST COAST

Energy production is nothing new to the Central Valley. Oil production in the San Joaquin Valley boomed after the discovery of “black gold” on the Kern River in 1899. In 2018, the City of Fresno was recognized in a report by the Environment California Research & Policy Center as the U.S. city with the second-highest solar power generating capacity per person. According to the report, the city’s total solar power generation capacity ranked fourth among the state’s big cities ahead of Sacramento, San Francisco and Riverside.

Around 10 years ago, there were proposals from a French company — partnered with California businessmen and farmers — to build a nuclear power plant in Fresno. Those plans eventually fell through. An innovative energy company has announced it will expand to the West Coast with the construction of a new, state-of-the-art hydrogen production facility in Fresno County. Plug Power Inc., headquartered in New York, is a provider of hydrogen fuel cell turnkey solutions. Plug Power plans to build the largest green hydrogen production plant on the West Coast in Mendota.

The facility will use a 300-megawatt, zero-carbon solar farm to power equipment that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen through an electro-chemical process. When fully built, the plant will produce 30 metric tons of liquid green hydrogen, able to service customers from San Diego to Vancouver. In a press release from Plug Power released in late September, local officials including Fresno County Supervisor Brian Pacheco and Lee Ann Eager, president and CEO of Fresno County Economic Development Corporation, praised Plug Power’s expansion to the area. “Green hydrogen represents the energy of the future and with this major announcement, Fresno County will soon plant its flag as the strategic center for California’s hydrogen economy,” Eager said. “This project is poetic justice for our region, which has struggled with persistent poor air quality, and will produce the zero-emission fuel needed to support the state’s renewable energy goals.”

Andy Marsh, president and CEO of Plug Power, joined the company in 2008 and is a prominent voice in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry. Marsh said the company made a commitment to be the first company to build a green hydrogen generation network across the U.S., and with California having one of the highest populations in the state — and with its aggressive environmental policies — it made sense to build here.

Plug Power’s California plant will join the company’s network of plants in New York, Tennessee and Georgia that will supply 500 tons per day of liquid green hydrogen by 2025. The plant in Mendota will cover about 20 acres. The plant will eventually expand beyond those 20 acres. “The solar farms want the plants to use their solar, and in an area like California there is going to be a lot of solar farms,” Marsh said. “In an area like the Central Valley with lots of solar, we are not going to be the only company to wants to come in and build a hydrogen plant. There will be other companies that follow us.”

Once the plant is constructed, Marsh said the company will be looking to provide hydrogen for trucks, fuel cells for forklift trucks, industrial applications, and putting hydrogen into natural gas pipelines. While there is discussion for the application of hydrogen fuel in the ag industry, Marsh said the technology is not as applicable in that arena yet. Currently, Marsh said places such as distribution centers, airports, seaports and other places where there a lot of vehicles going back and forth will be using a lot of hydrogen.

The environmental review for the plant is expected to be approved by the early 2023, with construction starting then. It is expected to be up and running in early 2024. The project will include construction of a new tertiary wastewater treatment plant in the City of Mendota, providing water for the community and supplying the full needs of the hydrogen plant.

Once in operations, there will be around 60 to 75 employees to start with, with those numbers eventually ramping up. Some of the jobs will include a plant manager, engineers, facility technicians, and truck drivers. “Hydrogen is part of California’s and the world’s efforts to reduce Co2 emissions, Plug Power has been doing it for 25 years and we are building out the first green hydrogen network for the United States and we are thrilled to be in the Central Valley,” Marsh said.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/mendota-to-host-largest-green-hydrogen-plant-on-west-coast/

California’s first electric truck stop in the works

A California startup company has announced plans to build the state’s first solar-powered truck stop for heavy-duty, Class 8 electric trucks. WattEV Inc. said it is slated to receive a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to build the facility in Bakersfield, California. Additionally, the company said it has raised $6 million in private equity seed funding led by Canon Equity. Groundbreaking is expected in late October.

The announcement was made at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo 2021 in Long Beach, California, on Aug. 30. WattEV, based in El Segundo, California, said the CEC should approve the grant Sept. 8 at its monthly business meeting. “Our successful private-equity seed funding, in addition to the grant awarded for this project, are important milestones in our effort to deploy 12,000 electric heavy-duty trucks on the road by 2030,” said Salim Youssefzadeh, CEO of WattEV. “The electric truck stop in Bakersfield is the first step toward our commitment to help build the charging infrastructure network necessary to accelerate the heavy-duty trucking sector’s transition to electric drive,” he added. Partners joining WattEV and the CEC on the Bakersfield electric truck stop project include the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, the Central California Asthma Collaborative, Greenlots, Power Electronics and several others.

In addition to the Bakersfield project, WattEV is in the planning stages for similar projects in San Bernardino and Gardena in Southern California. Both electric truck stops will serve the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, as well as the warehouses fed by goods coming through the ports. WattEV has also secured purchase incentive vouchers through the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project, and plans to initially buy six VNR Electric Class 8 trucks from Volvo Group. WattEV has has applied for 24 more electric truck HVIP vouchers for future purchases. All told, WattEV plans to run its own fleet of 30 heavy-duty electric trucks by the end of 2022. The fleet will be deployed under contract with several Southern California fleet customers.

The first fleet partnership is with Total Transportation Services Inc. (TTSI), which serves the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and has a presence in Bakersfield. TTSI will be offering electric transport freight services to shippers in Southern California on routes served by WattEV’s platform. To help accelerate the transition to electric goods movement, WattEV is developing an advanced software platform — trucks-as-a-service, or TaaS — designed specifically for the use of electric trucks within its network of charging stations on designated routes. The TaaS platform will offer an all-inclusive, charge-per-mile formula that will enable a transporter to use an electric truck to move goods normally handled with diesel trucks on the routes selected by shippers.

https://www.thetrucker.com/trucking-news/equipment-tech/charging-solutions-californias-first-electric-truck-stop-in-the-works

Fresno County lands what reportedly will be West Coast’s largest green hydrogen plant

Fresno County will be home to what a New York company says will be the largest green hydrogen production facility on the West Coast. Officials with Plug Power, headquartered in Latham, New York, said in their Monday announcement that the plant — near Mendota — is expected to produce 30 metric tons of liquid green hydrogen daily within about four years.

The facility will use a new 300 megawatt zero-carbon solar farm to power 120 megawatts of Plug Power’s state-of-the-art PEM electrolyzers, which split water into hydrogen and oxygen through an electro-chemical process, the announcement stated. The California plant would join the company’s growing national network of facilities in New York, Tennessee and Georgia that officials say will supply 500 tons per day of liquid green hydrogen by 2025 — replacing, the company states, 4.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 1,000 tons per day globally by 2028.

Work will include construction of a new tertiary wastewater treatment plant in Mendota that will provide recycled water for residents and supply the full needs of the plant. The company hopes to break ground in early 2023 and complete commissioning in early 2024. The company announcement did not specify where the hydrogen plant will be built nor how many people might be hired locally. “The project is a huge win for the city of Mendota, and we are very happy to see this significant investment in clean energy in our community,” Mendota Mayor Rolando Castro said. “This green-hydrogen plant will provide full-time, high-paying jobs for our people. The city will also get a new wastewater treatment plant to provide recycled water for the city and all the needs of the hydrogen plant.”

https://energycentral.com/news/fresno-county-lands-what-reportedly-will-be-west-coasts-largest-green-hydrogen-plant

Major energy storage project proposed near Lebec along California Aqueduct

California’s energy future keeps pointing to Kern. The latest 10-figure energy storage proposal in the county is a damlike “pumped hydro” project connected to the California Aqueduct that would store and release 3,500 gigawatt-hours of power per year on or near Tejon Ranch.

There’s no money yet for it or a similar proposal the same Los Angeles County engineering and development group disclosed in December that would be located next to Isabella Lake. But the latter has attracted interest from one of the world’s largest oil producers, the developer’s managing director said. “The market is very active right now,” Victor Rojas at Walnut-based Premium Energy Holdings LLC said. “There is a lot of storage activity investment and the oil companies are very active, too, and they are seizing now, moving into this energy transmission business.” He declined to identify the oil company his firm is talking with but noted the U.S. Department of Energy is interested, too.

Both of Premium’s pumped-storage proposals are engaged in a federal application process that will succeed only if they can secure big investments — probably a mix of public and private money repaid in time by utility ratepayers — for the kind of infrastructure critical to California’s aggressive transition to renewable energy.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/major-energy-storage-project-proposed-near-lebec-along-california-aqueduct/article_fd846a78-1db7-11ec-949b-0b62703c0410.html

Bakersfield looks to add 30 electric vehicle charging stations throughout city

The Bakersfield City Council is poised to dramatically expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations available on public property. At Wednesday’s meeting, the council is scheduled to vote on an agreement that would add 30 ChargePoint charging stations to six city-owned areas of Bakersfield, including the 18th Street and Eye Street parking structure. That’s a big jump from the four city-operated charging stations currently operating out of the Amtrak Station downtown.

There are 71 charging locations throughout Kern County, with 42 in Bakersfield, meaning the six proposed locations would increase the total by around 15 percent. However, those locations are in places like hospital parking lots and car dealerships, potentially unavailable to the general public. If approved, the new charging stations would be installed at The Park at Riverwalk, the parking lot across the street from Cal State Bakersfield on Stockdale Highway, City Hall South, Mechanics Bank Arena, McMurtrey Aquatic Center, and the downtown parking structure.

Unlike the Amtrak electric vehicle charging stations downtown, the new additions will be Level 2 chargers, which charge faster than Level 1. The city is taking advantage of funds provided by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the California Energy Commission to complete the proposal. The $266,000 combined will fund around 80 percent of the project. The funding is just one part of a state plan to put more electric vehicles on the road. California has a goal of 5 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2030 and 250,000 charging stations by 2025.

As more and more funding becomes available for zero transmission projects, these proposed charging stations could be just the beginning. “It’s going to really expand. We are talking with different privately-owned gas stations that are interested in putting them in,” said Linda Urata, a regional planner for Kern Council of Governments who focuses on electric vehicles. “You’re going to see huge growth in the next two years.”

Lately, charging options have increased for electric vehicle owners. In January, the state Department of Transportation opened nine new stations throughout the Central Valley, including one at the Tejon Pass and in Delano and the city of McFarland recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new station. More are planned for cities such as Arvin, Wasco and Shafter. But questions remain about how popular the charging stations will be. Kern COG Executive Director Ahron Hakimi described demand for the products as a “chicken and egg” scenario. Consumers may be more liable to buy an electric vehicle if more charging stations were available, but more charging stations might not be built without the purchase of more vehicles. “In the three years that I owned the Chevy Volt, I think I charged it, other than home, less than five times. That gives you an example of how many chargers are out there,” he said. “If we want as a society more EVs, than we absolutely have to invest in more places to charge.”

The city plans to watch how often each charging station is used to determine if more are necessary. “It’s a trial project,” said Assistant Public Works Director Stuart Patteson. “I’m sure they will get used. The intent is for them to be entered into whatever databases exist that direct people to EV charging stations, but until we have them in place for a while, it’s hard to say how well they will be utilized.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/bakersfield-looks-to-add-30-electric-vehicle-charging-stations-throughout-city/article_b4a0cdb4-a22a-11eb-9cf4-c73267a32dd6.html

Tesla has new plan in Fresno County at Harris Ranch. It’d be world’s largest e-station

According to several reports, and confirmed on Harris Ranch’s social media earlier this month, Tesla has applied to build what could be the worlds largest Supercharger at the beef ranch’s massive resort spot just off the I-5 in Coalinga.

If approved, the plan would expand Harris Ranch’s current 18 Supercharger stalls (where drivers recharge their vehicles) to possibly more than 100. This would make it larger than a recently built facility in Shanghai, which has 72 stalls of V2 and V3 superchargers, and larger than a 62 stall V3 Supercharger station in the works in Santa Monica.

Already, there are 56 V3 Supercharger stalls operating just up the I-5 in Firebaugh. That facility, on West Panoche Road, opened in November, with a convenience store and restaurant on site.

Tesla has long seen the section of I-5 running through Fresno County, and Harris Ranch specifically, as an important part of its electric car infrastructure.The company put one of its first Superchargers at Harris Ranch and chose it as the location for its short-lived battery swap program.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/news/tesla-has-new-plan-in-fresno-county-at-harris-ranch-itd-be-worlds-largest-e-station/ar-BB1fJm8M?ocid=uxbndlbing

Energy Recovery Commissions New Production Facility

Energy Recovery, Inc. (NASDAQ: ERII) today announced that manufacturing of PX® Pressure Exchangers® (“PX“) has begun in its newest production facility in Tracy, California. The opening of the 54,000 square foot facility marks the completion of a comprehensive manufacturing capacity increase plan that, combined with process optimization and additional equipment procurement, has more than doubled the Company’s output of PX ceramic components in just under two years. “We expect revenue growth of up to 25% this year in our Water segment, and the opening of our Tracy facility gives us confidence in fulfilling our strong backlog of orders while creating critical redundancy of our manufactured components,” said Robert Mao, Energy Recovery Chairman of the Board and President and Chief Executive Officer. “We were able to progress quickly, ensuring this facility was capable of operations while taking the necessary safety precautions against the spread of COVID-19.”

The city of Tracy is located 47 miles east of Energy Recovery’s headquarters in San Leandro, California. The close proximity of the two facilities allows for better integration and collaboration within the manufacturing process, helping to ensure consistent product quality across all production locations. Tracy was selected as a location due to its diverse pool of skilled labor, location in a low-risk seismic zone, independent power grid and access to key transportation access points. “Thanks to our strong relationships and market insight, we were able to accurately forecast the rapid growth of desalination we are seeing today and implement strategic capacity expansions. The Tracy facility has flexibility for further capacity additions in the future as required and positions us continuing reliably serving our customers’ growing businesses,” said Emily Smith, Energy Recovery’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Operations.

http://www.energyrecovery.com/media/energy-recovery-commissions-new-production-facility/

Chevron, Partners Advance Groundbreaking Carbon Capture Project in California’s Central Valley

A groundbreaking carbon capture power generation project is in the works by Chevron Corp., Schlumberger New Energy, Microsoft Corp. and Clean Energy Systems Inc. (CES) that could open the door to producing carbon negative power in Mendota, CA. The bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration (BECCS) project in the state’s agricultural mecca of the Central Valley is designed to convert agricultural waste biomass, such as almond trees, into a renewable synthesis gas. The gas then would be mixed with oxygen in a combustor to generate electricity. “More than 99% of the carbon from the BECCS process is expected to be captured for permanent storage,” the companies said, as carbon dioxide (CO2) would be injected underground into nearby deep geologic formations.

No financial details were disclosed. However, the project is designed to make “a vital contribution to the local economy by restarting an idled biomass plant,” said CES CEO Keith Pronske. Schlumberger New Energy’s Ashok Belani, executive vice president, said the project would show “how we play an enabling role to deploy carbon capture and sequestration solutions at scale…This unique BECCS project in California is a game-changing example of this.”

By using biomass fuel to consume CO2 to produce power and then permanently store the carbon leftovers, the process as designed could result in net-negative carbon emissions, according to the companies. If all things go to plan, the facility could remove about 300,000 tons/year of CO2. “There’s tremendous opportunity to use cloud technologies in the energy sector to help accelerate the industry’s digital transformation,” said Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud + AI. “Innovation at this scale” would be accelerated by the partnership.

Chevron’s Bruce Niemeyer, vice president of strategy and sustainability, said by leveraging its experience working in California, where the supermajor is headquartered, building projects “can be repeated” including large-scale CCS operations.  The completed facility is expected to improve air quality in the agriculture center of California, the Central Valley. When it ramps up, the facility is expected to use about 200,000 tons/year of agricultural waste. That figure is in line with California Air Resources Control Board’s plan to phase out most agricultural burning in the region by 2025.  The project is expected to create up to 300 construction jobs and about 30 permanent jobs once in operation. Front end engineering and design already has begun, with a final investment decision set for 2022.

https://www.naturalgasintel.com/chevron-partners-advance-groundbreaking-carbon-capture-project-in-californias-central-valley/

Bioenergy interest heats up in Kern County

Kern County business developers have seen a surge of interest lately from companies looking to build waste-to-energy projects that could create hundreds if not thousands of new local jobs in producing fuels that cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Four new bioenergy proposals came to the attention of the Kern Economic Development Corp. in the last half of 2020, joining four other prospects under active consideration. Most of the projects would employ more than 100 workers. One would dwarf the others with as many as 1,390 jobs across 100 to 200 acres.

Bioenergy has attracted substantial local investment in recent years as state lawmakers offer subsidies and favorable policies to promote big spending on infrastructure necessary to convert food waste, ag trimmings, dairy manure and even dead forest trees into cleaner-burning fuel whose environmental benefits can add up to be carbon negative. KEDC Vice President of Business Development Melinda Brown said the projects crossing her desk lately represent a variety of “green energy” technologies inspired by state mandates. Together, she said, they amount to a noticeable shift in interest in local manufacturing and industrial property. “They’re telling me this is all new industries” under development, she said Monday.

State legislation in 2016 targeted reductions in methane and other short-lived pollutants by forcing local jurisdictions to cut the amount of organic material they collectively send landfills by three-quarters. The best way to do that depends on the feedstock. Food and food-processing waste can be treated as dairy waste increasingly is, by fermenting it and refining the gas it produces into an easily stored fuel. Because that doesn’t work as well with waste such as vineyard prunings and almond hulls, another approach is to super-heat dry, fibrous, feedstock. That produces an energy-dense fuel and biochar, which can then be buried, or sequestered, to achieve carbon-reduction gains. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has estimated this technology could become a central tool for meeting California’s aggressive climate-change goals.

The executive director of the Bioenergy Association of California, Julia Levin, said Kern is “the perfect place for it,” not only because of the county’s large supply of ag waste but also its inventory of elected and appointed government officials who recognize the industry’s benefits, value and the opportunity it presents. Some environmental groups have actively opposed biofuels, in part because they usually entail emitting at least some pollution and older production techniques release relatively high levels of particulate matter. Many climate-change activists are pushing for an end to internal combustion altogether.

Levin said new technologies are much cleaner and that the alternative in much of the Central Valley is open burning. “You’re going to see a lot of growth in Kern County (bioenergy), but I think we’re going to see a lot of growth statewide,” said Levin. She added that significant government investment may yet be needed to meet California’s bioenergy potential.

The California Energy Commission said it has invested more than $27 million since 2007 in research and development in renewable natural gas, a common form of bioenergy that is basically methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas. The commission said it has given an additional $77 million in taxpayer money to biomethane projects. A number of dairies in Kern County have worked with Visalia-based California Bioenergy LLC to turn several thousand cows’ manure into biomethane. And on Millux Road, Denver-based Crimson Renewable Energy LLC has a refining plant making biodiesel entirely from waste such as used cooking oil.

Last year Torrance-based Global Clean Energy Holdings Inc. bought the former, 67,000-barrel-per-day refinery on Rosedale Highway and announced a $365 million project to reopen the plant by early 2022 with about 100 employees producing 10,000 barrels per day of biodiesel from cooking oil. It said the refinery will later make the product from a ground-cover plant called camelina. The head of 155-employee Kern Oil & Refining Co., which makes renewable diesel and other fuels at its 26,000-barrel-per-day refinery near Lamont, said leveraging conventional fuel production with market knowledge has helped the company emerge as a leader in renewable fuel production.

President and CEO Jennifer Haley said she encourages policymakers to cultivate a wide-ranging energy portfolio in the state. By attracting public and private investment, she said, Kern can demonstrate that “we can both address climate change and set the table for perpetual regional economic success.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/bioenergy-interest-heats-up-in-kern-county/article_643feeca-6a4b-11eb-9351-b704ef9a2543.html