Aemetis Completes 20 Miles of California RNG Pipeline, Gets OK for Final Stage of Construction

By Mary Holcomb, Digital Editor

Aemetis Inc. has completed 20 miles of renewable natural gas (RNG) pipeline and received approval for construction of an additional 19 miles in Merced County, California, with project completion set for the fourth quarter of 2022.

“Issuance of the phase two pipeline permit and construction of the main pipeline in Merced County is a very significant milestone for the Aemetis Biogas RNG project,” Andy Foster, president of Aemetis Biogas, said. “Aemetis continues to rapidly deploy the infrastructure necessary to connect our network of dairy digesters and increase the production of carbon-negative dairy renewable natural gas.”

Once complete, Aemetis said its biogas digesters and clean-up facility will produce more than 1.65 MMBtu of renewable natural gas each year. The system will eliminate about 5 MTPA of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to the emissions of roughly 1 million cars.

The pipeline project and the $12 million biogas cleanup facility are funded in part by a $4.2 million grant from the California Energy Commission.

The completed pipeline will connect the Aemetis ethanol plant in Keyes, California to dairy farms in Stanislaus County and Merced counties. The pressurized pipeline conveys conditioned, pressurized biogas from dairy farms to the company’s centralized gas cleanup facility and the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) interconnection system to inject renewable natural gas (RNG) into the gas utility pipeline, which was commissioned on June 10.

The partnership between PG&E and Aemetis will enable the distribution of clean RNG to California by way of a 40-mile gathering line that will receive the RNG produced at the Aemetis Biogas Central Dairy Digester project and transport it through PG&E’s transmission pipeline system to end-use customers.

Commissioning the biogas cleanup unit and interconnecting with PG&E’s gas pipeline is a significant milestone for Aemetis,” Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis, said. “Our ability to fuel trucks with negative carbon intensity RNG will contribute to California’s goal of carbon neutrality and will reduce transportation air pollution created by diesel emissions.”

At the Keyes plant, the biogas is upgraded to negative carbon intensity RNG for use as a transportation fuel in cars, trucks, and buses. The RNG is either delivered into the PG&E utility pipeline located onsite at the Aemetis ethanol plant, dispensed to trucks at fueling stations across California or at the RNG fueling station being built at the Aemetis plant.

For the entire pipeline project, the company has been able to obtain an Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND), the key approval necessary to meet the permitting requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) prior to pipeline construction. The CEQA approval confirms that mitigation measures in the biogas project will avoid or mitigate any impacts on the environment.

Alongside the IS/MND notice, the company received a negative 426 carbon intensity pathway for biogas from the company’s first two dairy digesters, which are currently being utilized to process energy at the ethanol facility.

Last year, the company completed the permitting for 20 miles of biogas pipeline in Stanislaus County to connect dairy farms to the Aemetis biogas cleanup facility at the ethanol facility. The initial four-mile phase 1 pipeline project was completed and commissioned in the third quarter of 2020 in conjunction with the completion of its first two dairy digesters.

The company said it plans to build additional pipeline in the future to connect surrounding digesters to the main biogas pipeline.

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