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Forest Stewardship | Clean Energy | Agriculture

  • California must transition from fossil fuels to bio-based alternatives to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, particularly woody biomass from forestry management, as it can produce low-carbon transportation fuels from an abundant and reliable source (p. 1).

  • California currently imports over 90% of its low carbon liquid fuels whilst having an overabundance of woody biomass feedstock (pp. 1-2).

  • The increasing frequency of wildfires has turned California forests from carbon sinks to carbon emitters. No policies have yet adapted to this new reality (pp.2-4).

  • The woody biomass fuels industry is in the early stages of commercialization and requires long-term favourable business conditions to meet the twin goals of establishing substantial demand for woody biomass and providing a reliable supply of low carbon fuels (pp. 5-6).

  • Fire suppression practices, climate change, and a pine beetle scourge has resulted in overcrowded forests that pose a significant wildfire threat to many communities, exemplified by the Camp Fire of 2018 (pp. 3, 9).

  • Forestry management is necessary to curb this threat, but will cost $ billions per year.

  • Forest biomass utilization offsets the cost of forestry treatment by providing financial incentives (p. 5).

  • Further benefits include “renewable energy production, net reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increased water quality and yield, net improvements to air quality, rural job creation, [and] improved public health and productivity...” (p. 5).

  • Forestry biomass is a renewable energy source because it comes from excess forest material that must be disposed of, sent to landfills, open-burned in piles or left to decompose (p. 6).

  • Beginning in 2016, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) trialled fuel-cell electric buses (FCEB), determining them as a good system for municipal transportation. (p. 1).

  • The FCEB operated with a fuel economy 1.9 times greater than the compressed natural gas (CNG) buses used for baseline comparison (p. 2).

  • This study led to an expansion of the FCEB fleet, with 10 buses being delivered to OCTA and a further 10 built for AC Transit in Oakland, California (p. 3).

  • H2 can store energy over time, transport energy over long distances, provide negative-emission vehicle fuel for transportation, provide a reliable source of low-carbon heat, and be a feedstock for industrial and agricultural processes (pp. 2, 6).

  • H2 is key to solving issues such as decarbonization, preservation of natural resources, aging infrastructure, energy storage, customer demands and energy system reliability (p. 6).

  • The H2 industry could generate $140 billion per year and support 700,000 total jobs by 2030, and reach $750 billion per year and a cumulative 3.4 million jobs by 2050 (p. 7).

  • Hydrogen can be blended into existing gas pipelines at no extra cost, lowering emissions used in building heating (p. 9).

  • Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV’s), unlike battery-electric vehicles (BEV’s), have similar fuelling times to gasoline vehicles, and a much larger energy storage capacity (p. 9).

  • Total cost of ownership for FCEV’s will reach parity with internal combustion engines between 2025 and 2030 (p. 9).

  • Technological limitations have made it impossible to decarbonize all industries by 2045, so the physical removal of carbon from the atmosphere is required to offset unavoidable emissions (p. 12).

  • Hydrogen from biomass creates the most negative emissions by not only reducing GHG and particulate emissions from decomposition and fire, but also allowing for the generation of energy and simultaneous capture/sequestration of the carbon contained in the biomass, projected to reach 83 million tons of carbon annually (pp. 44, 47).

  • Prioritizing the gasification-to-hydrogen process with CCS is the most cost-effective method of decarbonization available, totaling only $8 billion per year, or 0.34% of California’s GDP, compared to the up to $15 billion in costs associated with other methods (p. 7).

  • Estimated hydrogen demand is between 1.2 and 4 million tons annually (p. 53). Using forest and agricultural wood waste as biomass feedstocks will produce an estimated 3.8 million tons of hydrogen (pp. 53-54).

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