West Biofuels Secures $4 Million to Develop Bioenergy Facilities

CAL FIRE Grants will Increase Forest Sustainability, Promote Innovation, and Bolster Rural Economies

WOODLAND, CA / Dec 20, 2023 / Today, WestBiofuels, LLC (“West Biofuels”) announced $4 million from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s (CAL FIRE) Business and Workforce Development Grant Award to support the development of clean, renewable energy projects the company has been involved with as project developer and builder. 

Hat Creek Bioenergy, LLC was awarded $2 million for the Hat Creek Bioenergy Facility (Burney, Calif.), which is expected to be operational in the summer of 2024. The funds will help transport woody biomass from forest restoration operations and demonstrate how subsidies cans support restoration efforts and incentivize the creation of new bioenergy facilities in areas where feedstock supply exceeds demand.  West Biofuels is currently constructing this facility for Hat Creek Bioenergy.  

Mariposa Bioenergy, LLC received $2 million for a planned bioenergy facility in Mariposa, Calif., also constructed by West Biofuels. The grant funding will help complete site grading, preparation of a feedstock area, installation of a fire prevention system, and the fabrication of bioenergy equipment. The project will kickstart local and regional forest management practices and jobs markets and help the region develop a thriving and sustainable forest management industry that minimizes future catastrophic wildfire hazards, provides local jobs, and benefits underserved communities. 

The bioenergy facilities in Burney and Mariposa are each expected to produce three megawatts of clean power by converting forest organic byproducts – once considered waste– into renewable electricity, heat, and biochar. Specifically, the Hat Creek Bioenergy Facility is estimated to source approximately 30,000 bone dry tons of forest waste per year, which would fill approximately 171 Olympic-sized swimming pools.   

“We’re honored that our partner facilities have received $4 million in CAL FIRE grants to help generate new renewable energy sources for California communities,” said Kristen Decker, Chief Financial Officer of West Biofuels. “Our innovative Hat Creek and Mariposa projects demonstrate bioenergy's pivotal role in supporting rural economic growth, increasing forest sustainability, and advancing California’s climate goals. By converting forest waste into clean power, we're not just generating renewable energy – we're transforming a once-discarded resource into a hopeful future for families, businesses, and the environment." 

“We’re proud to partner with West Biofuels on projects that align with our mission to enhance forest management practices, mitigate wildfire risks, and foster community development,” said Justin Britton, Wood Products Operations Forester of CALFIRE. “The funding awarded will not only facilitate the operationalization of these bioenergy facilities but also stimulate local and regional economies, generating employment opportunities and establishing a model for responsible forest management.” 

Today’s news follows similar grant awards to West Biofuels from other State and Federal agencies, including: 

$1.2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Wood Energy Grant Program to the Hat Creek Bioenergy Facility (Burney, Calif.) to fund the installation of thermally led community wood energy systems or the building of innovative wood product manufacturing facilities. 

$300,000 from the USDA’s Wood Innovation Grant Program for the planned Mariposa bioenergy facility to expand wood energy markets and traditional wood utilization projects and promote utilizing wood as a construction material in commercial, institutional, and multifamily buildings. 

$3 million from the California Energy Commission for producing pipeline-grade renewable natural gas and value-added chemicals from forest biomass residue. This grant is in progress, and West Biofuels is currently testing the pilot system with various agricultural feedstocks.

$2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office to develop diesel and jet fuel from biomass residues.  This project is ongoing at the West Biofuels research center, including testing of the innovative pilot reactor system that can be scaled up to commercial scale. 

$2 million from the California Energy Commission for demonstrating a robust, efficient, and environmentally sound Biomass Combined Heat and Power (BCHP) system for commercial deployment in the agricultural processing sector in California. This grant was completed, and West Biofuels’ demonstration will support commercial-scale fuel production projects and further reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector.

$1 million from the California Energy Commission for developing renewable fuel ethanol and value-added chemicals from woody biomass residue. This grant was completed, and West Biofuels demonstrated that substituting out-of-state corn ethanol for in-state biomass is over four times less carbon-intensive.  

$1 million from the California Energy Commission for renewable natural gas production from woody biomass via gasification and fluidized-bed methanation. The pilot project grant was completed, and the University of California, San Diego, and West Biofuels confirmed that benefits on a commercial scale would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel imports, and costs associated with methanation, syngas cooling and cleaning, and installed facility capital. Other benefits included increased energy security, job creation, technology development, and forest management support.

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WestBiofuels, LLC, engineers, procures, and constructs, as well as operates and maintains biomass facilities that create renewable energy, support rural economic growth, reduce the risk of wildfires, and advance California’s climate goals. Since2007, they have been pioneers in the bioenergy industry with cutting-edge research and development. In 2017, they expanded operations to transform organic byproducts into valuable renewable energy that powers California communities. Their Woodland Research and Development Center is a top-tier thermochemical biomass technology facility in North America that partners with global experts to further research and develop high-value fuels and chemicals. Discover more at WestBiofuels.com and connect on LinkedIn.

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Laura Braden
Public Relations & Strategic Communications