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

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.