Renewable fuels company Aemetis has resumed production at its ethanol plant in Keyes, California after completing extensive maintenance and system upgrades.
The company says it received grants totaling $16.7 million from the California Energy Commission and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to support energy efficiency, zero-carbon solar energy, electric ethanol dehydration, and decision control system (DCS) upgrades at the Keyes biofuels plant, which has a production capacity of 65 million gallons per year.
“The Keyes plant has a history of high uptime and consistent production, with only one scheduled maintenance day annually for nearly a decade,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis. “When natural gas prices reached historic highs several months ago, we made the strategic decision to idle operations and undertake an extensive cleanout, repair, and system upgrade cycle to install important technology upgrades.”
The upgrades include the installation of a new Allen Bradley DCS, which features over 1,100 sensor connections throughout the facility, to enhance the automation of operations and allow for the management of energy use using artificial intelligence (AI).
The upgrades are expected to directly reduce the carbon intensity of biofuels produced at the plant while contributing to a reduction in carbon pollution and an improvement in local air quality in the agriculture-rich Central Valley.
The system upgrades also support the operation of the Aemetis Biogas network, which comprises a 40-mile biogas pipeline, seven operational digesters, the central renewable natural gas (RNG) production facility, and the PG&E gas utility interconnection situated at the Keyes plant.
“These upgrades will seamlessly integrate operation of the 30 additional diary biogas digesters in Stanislaus and Merced Counties that are under construction or in development and will be connected to our pipeline for processing of biogas into RNG injected into the utility gas pipeline for use as transportation fuel,” stated Andy Foster, President of Aemetis Biogas.