New Leaf Biofuel Celebrates Expansion of San Diego Plant
New Leaf Biofuel, which struggled through a rough time for biofuels last year, celebrated its expansion this month to a 5-million-gallon annual production plant for very low carbon biodiesel with a grant from the California Energy Commission.
The plant produces fuel that is 90 percent less carbon per gallon than standard diesel fuel. By contrast, an electric car like the Nissan Leaf or Tesla uses electricity that is 65 percent less carbon than gasoline. This reduction in carbon dioxide is important since it is a source of greenhouse gases. Transportation accounts for 38 percent of all carbon emissions in California.
New Leaf Biofuel produced as much as 1.5 million gallons of biodiesel in 2012 and was poised to make much more. A change in public policies loomed in 2014 and production fell. Thanks to its President Jennifer Case, the company not only survived, but is ramping back up. The plant converts local waste streams, including used cooking oil from 1,500 restaurants, into biodiesel. The biodiesel can be used with existing diesel engines and blended with diesel fuel that can be used in existing truck fleets.
New Leaf Biofuel is contributing to California’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. It is also helping reach Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal to reduce petroleum use by 50 percent by 2030. The company also created 25 jobs in Barrio Logan, an economically disadvantaged neighborhood in San Diego. The Energy Commission contributed more than $500,000 to the plant expansion. Jim McKinney, project manager for the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, assisted Case with the ribbon cutting.
State Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) also attended the ceremony celebrating the expansion.