Cameron Scott

Plans for California Hybrid Solar-Biomass Facility Scrapped

by , 07/05/10

solar power, biomass, martifer renewables, pg&e, renewable energy portfolio, california, agricultural waste

This past week the Portuguese company Martifer Renewables abandoned plans to build a hybrid solar-biomass power facility in Fresno County, California due to objections from neighbors over air quality. The plant would have powered some 75,000 homes for 20 years, helping PG&E meet its 33 percent renewable energy requirement by 2020 .

solar power, biomass, martifer renewables, pg&e, renewable energy portfolio, california, agricultural waste

Environmental objections to solar projects on remote federal lands have driven PG&E to seek alternative solutions to meet increasing state renewable minimums. Martifier’s facility would have relied on solar power by day and burned vegetable agricultural waste by night — there’s no shortage of vegetable waste in the heavily agricultural Central Valley. But neighbors objected to Martifer’s plans to truck the waste in, and said that burning it would worsen the air quality in a region that already has some of the worst air in the nation, thanks to industrial agriculture.

It’s too bad, because deriving energy from waste material is the holy grail of renewable energy, and producing energy 24/7 is another important benchmark. Perhaps in the future better raw material delivery plans combined with clean burning technologies could get similar projects off the ground.

+ Martifer Group

+ Pacific Gas & Electric

Via New York Times

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4 Comments

  1. jonathanchaley November 8, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Its a good point anyway.
    Building tree house with your family is such a great family bonding.
    Reading books up on the tree house is an awesome experience.

  2. redwoodrob July 5, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    If the local population is short sighted it is because visibility is obscured by the poor air quality. Trucked delivery of biomass represented over 300 tons of particulate matter per year without even considering the emissions from its burning. A comparable sized natural gas plant would emit much less than 100 tons. The developer informed the energy commission that they were withdrawing because “We were not able, at this time to resolve some of our issues regarding project economics and biomass supply amongst other things.” There was little awareness or objection from the community. The Portuguese company was removed from the Euronext 150 Index on July 1, 2010 because their stock has tanked. The poorly planned projects failure has little to do with neighbors objections. Rob Simpson

  3. rd July 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Previous commenter; The community’s involvement is actually the opposite of short sighted–and apparently the investors could see the risk involved too. Your analogy to replacing coal is what is short sighted because it is not a this or nothing else matter… And the amount of coal fired generation supplying this community’s energy needs is just not relevant–it is zero.

    The best alternatives involve every community in the clean energy future, not forsaking one for another’s benefit. In this example, the San Joaquin Valley remains one of the dirtiest air basins in the nation, it is not a may have been.

  4. gpurves July 5, 2010 at 11:09 am

    It is quite unfortunate to lose an opportunity of this caliber due to the short-sightedness of the local population. Granted there may have been air quality issues to overcome, but surely as Americans deriving nearly half of their energy from coal, we must begin to move in alternative directions ironing out the process as we move forward towards a sustainable future.

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