West Biofuels to Convert Forest Biomass into Renewable Energy for Rural California Communities Facing Wildfire Risk

March 4, 2024
The project will deploy three community-scale bioenergy systems in Burney, Mariposa, and Mammoth Lakes, converting forest biomass into 100% renewable electricity and biochar soil amendments

Woodland-based bioenergy company West Biofuels has been selected for up to $30 million in award negotiations from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) to provide low-carbon, stable energy for the rural communities in Burney, Mariposa, and Mammoth Lakes, California. 

The company plans to develop a group of rural projects in the Sierra Nevada Cascade, and its staff will support each project’s ongoing operations and maintenance for long-term sustainability and success.

The funds will help each rural community convert forest biomass into renewable energy to:

  • Provide low-carbon, reliable energy for three remote communities facing wildfire risks. 
  • Reduce carbon emissions using produced biochar to be sold in regional agricultural markets.
  • Provide an end-use and local market for biomass from forest thinning campaigns, helping prevent forest fires in the region.

Burney, Mariposa, and Mammoth Lakes are vulnerable to wildfires and frequent power outages due to extreme weather. 

Each facility is targeted to generate 3 MW of reliable, clean electricity production by utilizing 28,000-35,000 dry tons of forest residuals per year. This will offset up to 53,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually from fossil energy displacement, fire mitigation, and biochar sequestration. 

Each site also plans to create 15 permanent jobs to support the local community.

“Our project addresses multiple commercialized end uses by deploying three community-scale bioenergy systems, converting biomass into 100% renewable electricity and biochar soil amendments,” said Kristen Decker, Chief Financial Officer of West Biofuels. “This project represents a win-win for the community with both good jobs and providing sustainable renewable energy.”