Massive biofuels plant at Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center begins next phase
RENO, Nev. — Fulcrum BioEnergy announced May 16 the start of construction for Phase 2 of its first waste-to-fuels project, the Sierra BioFuels Plant, during a groundbreaking event at the plant’s site at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center east of Reno.
Referred to simply as “Sierra,” the facility will reportedly be the nation’s first commercial-scale plant to use a thermochemical process to convert household garbage into low-carbon transportation fuels.
According to the company, roughly 175,000 tons of household garbage is expected to be converted into more than 10.5 million gallons of fuel each year once commercial operations begin by early 2020.
According to previous NNBW reports, the Pleasanton, California-based company in August of 2017 was approved by the Nevada Board of Finance — which is headed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval — to use $150 million in bonds to build Phase 2.
“We are all old enough to remember seeing that trash go into a flying car,” Sandoval memorably said last summer, referencing the movie Back to the Future. “This is close to that — only into jets.”
The bonds are just part of the financing package, according to past reports; Fulcrum and the company’s other backers will eventually put a total of $347 million into the project.
Jim Macias, Fulcrum’s president and CEO, told the more than 200 guests in attendance at the May 16 event — including Sandoval, who made opening remarks — that it marks a milestone for Northern Nevada’s low-carbon fuels industry.
“We’ve spent 10 years developing, designing, testing, improving and demonstrating this new process so that it is now ready for commercial deployment,” Macias said in a provided statement. “By converting waste into low-carbon transportation fuel, Fulcrum provides a real solution to the aviation industry’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.”
Fulcrum’s thermochemical process reportedly allows for extending the life of landfills and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions “by more than 80 percent,” compared to the use of traditional petroleum transportation fuel, according to a news release from the company.
Through Sierra, Fulcrum will create roughly 500 jobs during construction, 120 permanent plant operations jobs and more indirect jobs throughout Northern Nevada.
According to the company, as construction proceeds at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, planning is underway for the company’s “next several projects to be sited near large U.S. metropolitan areas…”
“Collectively, these future plants are expected to have the capacity to produce more than 300 million gallons of jet fuel annually,” according to the news release.
Visit fulcrum-bioenergy.com to learn more about the Pleasanton, California-based company.
The agreements are designed to split the costs of improvements such as traffic signals between Carson City and developers whose projects generate the traffic increases that trigger the need for improvements.