Constellation Energy through two of its subsidiaries and Chromatin Inc, a supplier of biomass feedstock, have signed a memorandum of understanding that could supplement fuels at two California power plants with sorghum.

The two plants to test burn the sorghum biomass are Rio Bravo Poso in Bakersfield, which burns coal and petroleum coke, and Rio Bravo Fresno near Fresno, which burns agricultural and construction wood waste.

Chromatin is growing three fields of biomass sorghum, a non-food crop with a high energy content that is adapted to marginal lands and requires less than half the water and chemicals of field crops such as corn or sugarcane.

The harvested biomass will be test burned to determine the feasibility of using sorghum as a fuel source to generate electricity at two power plants in California that are owned jointly by Constellation Energy and North American Power Group (NAPG).

If successful, this will be the first production-scale effort to generate power from an energy field crop in California, claim the companies.

The process of generating power from renewable biomass is referred to as “closed loop biomass.” This means that a new crop of energy sorghum, grown specifically for power generation, consumes about the volume of greenhouses gases that was created when the earlier crop was burned.

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