California 2012 Bioenergy Action Plan

California’s 2012 Bioenergy Action Plan outlines strategies, goals, objectives, and actions that state agencies will take to increase bioenergy development in California. The plan builds upon the state’s 2006 and 2011 Bioenergy Action Plans. These plans were developed with input from the Bioenergy Interagency Working Group, the California Biomass Collaborative and stakeholders and other public comments. An in-depth status report on bioenergy development and analysis of the issues are contained within the 2011 Bioenergy Action Plan, which was adopted by the California Energy Commission in March 2011. The 2012 Bioenergy Action Plan updates the strategies, objectives, and state agency actions to reflect Governor Jerry Brown’s energy, waste reduction, and jobs policies and to formalize additional state actions not included in 2011 Plan.

Bioenergy is renewable energy produced from biomass wastes, including forest and other wood waste, agriculture and food processing wastes, organic urban waste, waste and emissions from water treatment facilities, landfill gas and other organic waste sources. Biomass waste can be used to generate renewable electricity, liquid fuels and biogas. Using biomass to produce energy reduces the need for traditional disposal options for biomass such as landfill disposal or burning in place, while reducing dependence on fossil energy sources.

The California Energy Commission describes the benefits of bioenergy and believes that California has enormous potential to create energy from organic waste materials. Urban, agricultural and forest wastes that would otherwise go to landfills or be burned can, instead, be used to produce electricity, transportation fuels, combined heat and power (CHP), and more. Using biomass waste resources also complements other state mandates, such as waste diversion, fire-risk reduction, climate change and adaptation, and environmental protection.

The 2012 plan outlines state agency actions that:

1) stimulate cost effective utilization of the state’s diverse biomass resources for conversion to “low-carbon” biofuels, biogas, and renewable electricity;
2) increase research, development and demonstration of bioenergy toward commercializing new technologies;
3) streamline the regulatory and permitting processes; and
4) quantify and monetize the benefits of bioenergy.

The report’s first chapter discusses the various types of bioenergy, their benefits, and efforts to monetize the environmental and indirect economic benefits. This chapter also provides an assessment of the potential to develop biomass in California.

An “Action Plan to Increase Use of Biomass Residues” is provided, with strategies to increase the use of biomass, consistent with the state’s policies on bioenergy. It also identifies goals and objectives for biomass use and provides a roadmap of specific state energy actions to achieve the goals. 


On April 25, 2006, Executive Order S-06-06, ‘Bioenergy Action Plan’ was issued by the former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, outlining a set of target goals which would establish the increasing use and production of biofuels and bio-power for both electricity generation and substitution of natural gas and petroleum within the state of California. The plan asked multiple state agencies (The Bioenergy Interagency Working Group) to work towards the advancement of biomass programs in California. The order would also help provide statewide environmental protection, mitigation and economic advancement. The plan was passed on July 7, 2006 with progress reports issued in 2007 and 2009. The updated plan was subsequently re-released in 2011 and 2012. 

Publication Date: August 23, 2012

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