Mote starts second biomass to hydrogen project in Northern California

mote
The biomass-to-hydrogen startup is partnering with Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) to expand its operations to a second location supported by $1.2M in grants from the US Forest Service, the California Department of Conservation, and the California Department of Forestry. The project will convert locally sourced wood waste to carbon-negative hydrogen while safely sequestering over 450,000 metric tons of CO2.

As more utilities, industries, and transportation providers look to clean hydrogen to reduce carbon emissions, Mote Inc. has received $1.2 million in grant funding from the US Forest Service, the California Department of Conservation, and the California Department of Forestry (CAL FIRE) to establish its second biomass to hydrogen and carbon sequestration plant in partnership with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). As Mote’s hydrogen offtake partner for the second facility in Sacramento, SMUD and Mote have been collaborating on the project development. Upon completion, the facility would produce approximately 21,000 metric tons per year (MTPY) of carbon-negative hydrogen for use in thermal power generation and transportation. 

The plant would also sequester over 450,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, equal to the CO2 emissions of over 100,000 cars each year. The project is supported by forestry stakeholders due to Mote’s capacity to create value from large amounts of wood waste. The project can utilize up to 300,000 MTPY of forest residues and wood waste from regional forest management programs, such as those in the Sierra Nevadas. This waste would otherwise be open-air burned, left to decompose, or sent to a landfill. 

“On our path toward a sustainable future, SMUD remains dedicated to harnessing the power of our partnerships and cutting-edge technologies to create innovative green energy solutions and opportunities for the entire region,” said Lora Anguay, chief zero carbon officer at SMUD. “Through our ambitious 2030 Zero Carbon Plan and visionary leadership, we are driving positive environmental change, championing large-scale utility decarbonization, and fostering an equitable transition toward a clean energy economy and future that benefits all communities.”

Mote’s carbon-negative hydrogen solution is a first-of-a-kind model for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Similar to its first project near Bakersfield, this second plant will integrate with carbon capture and geological sequestration methods to produce carbon-negative hydrogen. Using gasification and a proprietary integration of proven technology, Mote can process woody waste from farms, forestry, and urban sources. The remaining carbon dioxide from the process is captured and permanently placed underground in saline aquifers for ecologically safe storage. The focus on carbon removal and storage sets Mote’s technology apart from other clean hydrogen projects, as Mote’s product delivers hydrogen with a producer sale price and carbon intensity score significantly lower than its competitors at -150 gCO2/MJ. 

“There is a pressing need for durable, large-scale carbon removal and scalable solutions that provide low-cost, clean hydrogen in the ongoing energy transition. Mote’s technology does both. Our projects in Sacramento and Bakersfield will be the first commercial-scale projects to utilize sustainably sourced biomass for this purpose,” said Joshuah Stolaroff, CEO of Mote. “Our transformative use of wastes to fight climate change saves money, land, and resources compared to alternative options. With continued support from partner organizations, we will expand to become a major part of the global path to net zero.”

This news comes on the heels of state and federal recognition for the company’s Bakersfield facility, which has completed its FEL-2 study. Mote has received a formal invitation to submit a Part II application to the Department of Energy Loan Programs Office (LPO) Title 17 Clean Energy Financing program, which can offer loan guarantees up to 80 percent of eligible project costs for innovative energy projects like Mote’s facilities. Bakersfield construction is expected to begin in 2025 and target full operational capacity by 2027. Additionally, Mote is a member of the ARCHES community and their application for the DOE’s Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub grant.  

DOE’s invitation to submit a Part II application is not an assurance that DOE will invite the applicant into the due diligence and term sheet negotiation process, that DOE will offer a term sheet to the applicant, or that the terms and conditions of a term sheet will be consistent with the terms proposed by the applicant. The foregoing matters are wholly dependent on the results of the DOE review and evaluation of a Part II Application and DOE’s determination of whether to proceed.

Beyond state and federal funding, Mote has also received support through strategic partnerships with RMI, whose industry experts helped source and apply for funding opportunities, including the awarded CalFire grant. This relationship was funded and supported in part by Mission Possible Partnership.

“Mote’s successful applications are an important signal for the clean hydrogen market, showing how ambitious state and federal policy can help get lighthouse clean energy projects on the path to viability,” said Bryan Fisher, Director of Hubs at MPP and Managing Director for RMI’s Climate-Aligned Industries program. 

Carbon Capture Editorial Team
Carbon Capture Editorial Team
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