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Walnut Shells Generate Mushroom Farm Power

he BioMax systems are now up and running and providing 30 percent of electrical power at Premier Mushrooms Inc. in Colusa. The photo was taken of the systems after installation at the farm. (Submitted Photo)
he BioMax systems are now up and running and providing 30 percent of electrical power at Premier Mushrooms Inc. in Colusa.
The photo was taken of the systems after installation at the farm. (Submitted Photo)

Premier Mushrooms Inc. is now generating 30 percent of its electrical power using CHP biomass powered generators. The generators capture local agricultural waste stream and convert it into a source of power for the farm.

Walnut and almond shells, by-products of these crops are considered agricultural waste, but with this system they can be utilized to displace energy generated from non-renewable sources. In other words, it displaces energy from the electric grid.

At Premier Mushrooms, the feedstock will be walnut shells, sourced from Carriere Family Farms in neighboring Glenn County.

“Premier has been building and refining its sustainability program for years and procuring a source of renewable energy was just the natural progression in an effort to advance its environmental goals,” said Premier CEO John Ashbaugh.

In 2013, the farm was approached by Community Power Corporation (CPC). CPC is a leading developer and manufacturer of fully automated modular biomass-to-energy gasification systems known as the BioMax®.

CPC and Premier formed a partnership that resulted in CPC bringing its largest installation to date (330kw) to Premier’s farm in Colusa.

On April 1, 2015, three BioMax®100 systems went online and are now off-setting Premier Mushrooms with clean, green energy. “In addition to the clean energy, Premier is also able to utilize the waste heat from the generators to pre-heat its boilers and offset natural gas used for sterilization,” said Premier Mushroom sustainability coordinator Kevin Foley.

Premier is dedicated to being environmentally friendly, and community minded. This company has grown into one of the county’s largest private sector employers with more than 200 year-round employees.

Premier values partnerships like the one with CPC and is excited to be moving closer to it 2020 goal of sourcing 100 percent of its power from a renewable source.

“As energy prices continue to rise and natural resources continue to wane, it will become increasingly important to seek out opportunities to operate more efficiently and more sustainably,” Foley added.

“We look at sustainability as an opportunity to strive to continue leading the way as a sustainable Northern California farm,” he said.

The BioMax®100 System is modular, fully automated, factory-built renewable energy gasification system that converts biomass to electricity and heat, and for cooling using equipment such as absorption chillers. Each system occupies an area of approximately 30’ x 30’.

Unlike other biomass-to-energy gasification systems, the BioMax® uses no water in its process, meaning it will not pull from our already stressed water systems during this time of drought. It also produces no wastewater that requires treatment before disposal.

The systems run clean and exceed all county air requirements.

Premier Mushroom Inc. CEO John Ashbaugh stated that this system is consistent with our water conservation and renewable energy goals.

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