North Fork Community Power Forest Bioenergy Facility Demonstration

Powering the community's electricity needs using forest biomass waste

The Watershed Research and Training Center

Recipient

Hayfork, CA

Recipient Location

2nd

Senate District

2nd

Assembly District

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$4,220,575

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

The project obtained financing which includes Green Bond financing for a total of $10.4M in tax-exempt bonds and $4.7M in taxable bonds, a CalFIRE loan of $1.2M and equity investment of $2.2M from the gasifier company EQTEC. The project has also obtained a PPA with PG&E. Equipment from GE was delivered to the site but was never installed because GE withdrew from its gasifier business and decided not to move forward. Phoenix Energy has since been working with EQTEC; the replacement equipment are being prepared at an EQTEC site and in process for delivery. While site preparations in North Fork have resumed, the project activities were also slowed down by the effects of the covid-19 pandemic.

The Issue

Forest biomass fueled bioenergy gasification projects have the potential to be more efficient and cleaner electricity generation than direct combustion systems and can reduce the risk of forest fires and pollutant emissions. The electricity generation is anticipated to be economical in the long-term but is dependent on the ability of developers to achieve necessary operating hours. Due to lack of sufficient data and the absence of commercially operating forest gasification facilities, there is a need to conduct demonstrations and collect technical data that will help advance the economic viability of this technology and attract private investment.

Project Innovation

The goal of the North Fork Forest Bioenergy project is to demonstrate a 1-megawatt (MW) forest waste bioenergy gasification-to-electricity facility. The biomass gasification facility is targeted to be a commercial-scale, community-based facility capable of accepting and processing wood waste from forest management that would otherwise create wildfire and air quality challenges, and generating renewable grid-connected electricity. Once the gasification is fully installed and operational, the project team will investigate critical performance parameters and evaluate individual components and protocols to improve performance and reduce operating costs.

Project Benefits

This commercial-ready gasification technology has not been previously demonstrated in California. Combined with the producer gas cleanup system, automation and control, and optimized operation, this innovative system will prove distributed, woody biomass-fueled electricity to be economically feasible and capable of operating for 7,000 hours a year. The project will be grid-connected and will provide immediate benefits, including increased renewable generation capacity, expanded technical resources, and community environmental, wildfire, and economic development benefits.

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