In the United States (US), Enviva Inc., the world’s largest industrial wood pellet producer, and Alder Fuels, a cleantech developer have signed a contract for the long-term, large-scale supply of "sustainably sourced woody biomass" from Enviva to further commercialize the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
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The agreement would make Enviva an exclusive supplier of up to 750 000 tonnes per year of “sustainably sourced woody biomass” to Alder’s first Alder Greencrude (AGC) production facility, soon to be under construction in the southeastern United States.
Decarbonization of our entire economy is driving massive demand for the next generation of sustainably sourced renewable fuels. The size of the market for our product is equal to the petroleum market it replaces, commented Bryan Sherbacow, Alder Fuels’ President and CEO.
Backed by Honeywell UOP, United Ventures, Avfuel, Boeing, US Defense Logistics Agency, the US Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), AGC can be refined using existing infrastructure into low-carbon to carbon-negative SAF that matches petroleum-based equivalents on specification and performance.
With AGC technology, the challenge of meeting this demand is no longer industry willpower or commercial interest; it is having ready access to diverse, highly accredited, and sustainably produced sources of biomass. Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to achieving that aim while benefiting the communities in which we operate, Bryan Sherbacow said.
The announcement represents a major milestone in the rapid acceleration and scaling up of low-carbon transportation fuels with the potential to fundamentally change the future of flying and other modes of transport over time.
In March 2021, major US airlines committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which was reinforced by an announcement in October 2021 by the world’s airlines and aviation community.
Recognizing the scaling up of SAF is critical to meeting such aggressive climate goals, the White House launched the “SAF Grand Challenge,” with goals to have 3 billion gallons (≈ 11.3 billion litres) of SAF produced in the US by 2030 and augmenting to 35 billion gallons (≈ 132.4 billion litres) by 2050.
The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law amplifies the US commitment to SAF by providing tax credits for every gallon of SAF produced based on lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction percentages.
Further, the IRA extends and modifies the tax credit for the production of renewable energy from biomass and other technologies.
Europe is pursuing similar policy initiatives such as ReFuelEU, with the European Parliament voting in support of draft rules to require SAF to account for at least 85 percent of European Union (EU) aviation fuel by 2050.
Similarly, the United Kingdom announced the introduction of a SAF mandate, requiring at least 10 percent of jet fuel to be produced sustainably by 2030.
Major US airlines have been seeking opportunities to collaborate with other industries to deliver commercial solutions to sustainable aviation at scale, with such initiatives accelerating over the past two years as they individually, and collectively, committed to becoming carbon neutral.
United Airlines has already committed to purchasing 1.5 billion gallons (≈ 5.7 billion litres) of SAF from Alder Fuels when produced to the airline’s requirements. United Airlines’ commitment represents purchasing more than twice as much SAF as the rest of the world’s airlines combined.
Abundant sustainable biomass conversion to energy-dense, drop-in liquid fuels is essential to accelerating the current global transition to a low-carbon economy, commented Thomas Meth, President of Enviva.
Verifying sustainable wood fibre sourcing
All woody biomass feedstock supplied by Enviva to Alder Fuels will continue to adhere to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPAs) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive’s (RED) requirements, as well as Enviva’s industry-leading Responsible Sourcing Policy.
In addition, Enviva and Alder Fuels have committed to collaborating to gain sustainability certification under the internationally renowned Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) standard.
These guidelines and conditions are further supported by Enviva’s industry-leading “Track & Trace” program that provides detailed, verifiable, and independently audited data about the sustainability of Enviva’s sourcing activities and the journey its feedstocks take from the forest tract to the production plant to customers around the globe.
This joint effort between Enviva and Alder Fuels enables the sourcing of sustainable wood fiber and industry-leading technology to deliver the feedstock flexibility and commercialization of SAF needed to achieve jet fuel decarbonization at scale, ended Thomas Meth.