Viridis to build 20 MMgy biodiesel plant in Oakland, Calif.

By Viridis Fuels | October 28, 2011

The East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors has approved a long-term agreement with Oakland, Calif.-based Viridis Fuels to construct a 20 MMgy biodiesel processing facility adjacent to the West Oakland water treatment plant and near the new Oakland Bay Bridge toll plaza.

Viridis choose this rail-served location for its close proximity to end markets and the need to address the environmentally detrimental predominance of petroleum-based diesel at the Port of Oakland. This high profile site, which is CEQA-ready for a biodiesel project, will feature a processing plant, administrative offices, a public education center, a laboratory, rail and truck load out facilities, a power plant, a maintenance facility and a storage tank farm. Placed in a “park-like” setting, the new plant will be energy efficient and self-sustaining.  It will ultimately operate completely off the grid with its own combined heat and power system.

Viridis Fuels succeeded with an EBMUD request for proposal offered to more than 100 biofuel industry professionals in 2009. An extensive EIR study under the California Environmental Quality Act followed in 2010 and land lease negotiations were opened earlier this year.

Viridis will design, construct and operate an environmentally responsible, continuous flow, waterless-process biodiesel plant with level-3 automation and multiple feedstock capability to produce up to 20 MMgy of high grade, ASTM-compliant biofuel and up to 2 MMgy of technical-grade glycerin. Recent technological advances in biodiesel production will allow the conversion of previously challenging input materials. The American-made, state-of-the-art process will fully convert a variety of feedstock into the highest quality biofuel with virtually no hazardous waste stream. Beyond the collection and conversion of local organic grease and oil waste, additional feedstock may include algae, jatropha, camelina and other nonfood materials.  

Viridis Fuels’ CEO, Kathy Neal, stated that the projected cost of capital outlay and full project deployment is approximately $80 million. Viridis has retained the East Bay firm of Westhoff, Cone & Holmstedt, a financier that has consistently ranked as one of the top firms nationally in environmental finance, and in California they are the No. 1 ranked Underwriter in the number of solid waste disposal revenue bonds for 12 years in a row. WC&H has more than 70 industry clients and has completed more than $1.2 billion dollars in solid waste and environmental transactions since its founding in 1989. Funding resources include mutual funds, private equity investors, venture capital, institutional investors, bonds and grants. The investment appeal for this project centers around profit expectations, cap and trade carbon credits, tax equities and B20 usage mandates.

“This new complex helps to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and makes a major improvement in the air quality here in our Oakland community,” stated Viridis Chief Operating Officer Mario Juarez. Neal, a former member of the California Integrated Waste Management Board said, “This multi-faceted recycling project is one that we can all be proud of. I am particularly excited about our Public Education Center and the opportunity to offer real-time tours that will educate youth and adults about this green initiative.”   

Juarez informs that the plant will operate 330 days per year and deliver at least 50 entry-level jobs in the emerging green sector. As a part of its environmentally responsible focus, Viridis Fuels also anticipates reusing two of the three existing buildings on site and engaging a union contractor for their refurbishment. Viridis is also committed to a local purchasing policy and hiring program to provide long-term, sustainable jobs and livable wages. Oakland City Council President, Larry Reid welcomes this project as “a stellar example of local entrepreneurs creating much needed employment and business opportunities for our local community.”

“Viridis is demonstrating that, with a view towards a healthier future for all of us combined with creativity, we can grow our local economy. Oakland applauds and welcomes this show piece for green technology with open arms,” said Reid.

Biodiesel will be sold to a variety of customers including local fuel retailers, local refineries, governmental entities and transportation fleet operators. Federal government usage mandates and local ordinances are helping to promote vigorous product demand. Per EPA calculations, 1 gallon of petro-diesel emits 22.4 pounds of CO2 vs. 7.6 pounds for the equivalent volume of biodiesel. Resulting carbon off-set is 14.8 pounds per gallon of biodiesel produced—a 66 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses. Local trucks, cars, trains, and ships can use this alternative biofuel to help reduce pollution at the port and help improve the general health of the Oakland community.



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