The world’s first sustainable aviation fuel plant opened this week in Georgia, setting the stage for a huge new market for ethanol and farmers. Amid the loss of more than 437 thousand farms since 1981, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told those at the grand opening of LanzaJet Freedom Pines Fuels in Soperton, Georgia; “This company, this project, this industry, provides a ray of hope to reverse that trend.”
Vilsack says the new industry holds the promise of some three billion gallons of ethanol demand by 2030 and 36 billion by 2050, with much of the credit going to farmers. He says, “The fact that this facility is taking and using ethanol is a reflection of a number of dreamers and warriors, decades ago, who saw the opportunity to convert corn and soybeans into a variety of fuels.”
And Vilsack called the grand opening a celebration not just for the U.S. and its farmers but for the world. Vilsack says, “And why is that? Because, at the end of the day, if we’re going to mitigate the consequences of a changing climate, the transportation sector has to get to a net-zero future. In order for it to get to a net-zero future, aviation has to get there, as well.”
And Vilsack says the airlines have sought and encouraged SAF production amid last year’s first-ever trans-Atlantic flight by Virgin Air using 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel.
USDA and the Departments of Energy and Transportation have also teamed up to jumpstart the industry. Treasury issued interim guidance last month that allows emission modeling favorable to SAF tax credit eligibility.