The Zero Net Energy Farm (ZNEF) project is seeking at least $5 million in expansion funding, Agri Investor has learned.
The planning stage of ZNEF, an energy system that uses on-site renewable resources to generate a farm’s entire electrical and heating power needs, is being funded in part with a $1.2 million grant from the California Energy Commission aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions on farms.
The CEC will provide an additional $5 million in December 2017 for the execution phase of the project, but it will require a $5 million match from additional investors, said Russ Teall, the founder and president of Biodico, the renewable energy company that is directing ZNEF.
Biodico and its partners are currently creating the first ZNEF farm on a 1,300-acre portion of the 25,000-acre Red Rock Ranch in Five Points, California, using wind, solar, anaerobic digestion and gasification as energy sources to operate the farm with no external electricity or heat inputs.
While the 1,300 acres require the initial $5 million outside investment, Teall’s mission is to expand ZNEF across California, which he estimated would ultimately require 20,000 times that amount, or $100 million, and beyond.
“We’ve set this up as a demonstration facility serving as a fully sustainable template to roll out into other farms across the state, the country and the world,” Teall said. “Nearly every farm has access to renewable resources that can be used to produce energy.”
He added: “If investors have a choice between getting the same returns and investing in a toxic chemical versus renewable energy, they are likely choosing renewable energy.”
Sources of capital will likely include some combination of private equity investment, government tax credits, USDA funding, other grants, loans or subsidies, joint venture partnering or an IPO, Teall said.
Biodico introduced the ZNEF concept during the 2017 World Ag Expo at the California Department of Food and Agriculture Commission meeting. It is based the world’s first fully sustainable liquid biofuel facility in California’s San Joaquin Valley-based facility, which Biodico created and was supported by grants from the CEC and in collaboration with the US Navy and several local universities.