Advancing Biomass Combined Heat and Power Technology to Support Rural California, the Environment, and the Electrical Grid
Using forest biomass to heat and power Plumas County facilities and prevent catastrophic wildfires.
Facility construction occurred in the first and second quarters of 2018, with all equipment installed and commissioning completed in June, 2018. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in April, 2018, which included participants from the Sierra Institute, Plumas County, US Forest Service, community advocates, project developers, and the Energy Commission. Over the summer and early fall of 2018, Sierra Institute secured a steady fuel supply and trained County technicians to operate the system. The system was operated over the heating season from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019.
This project is deploying a biomass-fired combined heat and power system to provide heat and power to Plumas County health facilities. Biomass from local forest clearing operations will be used by a new biomass boiler to supply heat to an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) power unit. Waste heat from the ORC will be used as a heat source for heat pumps, improving their performance for the winter heating season.
By generating up to 35 kilowatts electricity and using 400 kilowatts (thermal) to supply heat pumps, the Plumas County Health and Human Services center will reduce its energy costs (electricity plus propane) by $50,000 per year.
Burning biomass in a controlled setting rather than in the field will result in reductions of pollutant emissions (including CO2, NOx, VOC and CO).
Electricity reliability will be enhanced by decreasing consumption of grid electricity during winter peak periods.
Safety will be improved by reducing both the risk and destructiveness of wildfires in forest communities by removing up to 815 tons of forest waste biomass per year.
Energy security is enhanced by deploying 35 kilowatts of distributed electricity with waste heat utilization that will reduce load on the local grid and decrease peak demand by as much as 205 kilowatts.