Bill Gates founded Breakthrough Energy and recently announced its first funding for the Catalyst project in the form of a $50 million grant for the Freedom Pines Fuels sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) facility in Soperton, Georgia.
Breakthrough Energy Catalyst is a unique program that brings together companies and non-profits to fund important, great business projects that accelerate the adoption of important technologies.
Breakthrough Energy Catalyst is a new way for the private sector to accelerate the transition to clean energy by financing projects that ensure that key climate solutions reach the market when the world needs them most, explains Rodi Guidero, Executive Director of Breakthrough Energy and Governance. Partner, Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
“LanzaJet’s new sustainable jet fuel facility can play an important role in reducing aviation’s carbon emissions while demonstrating how clean energy economy jobs and businesses can power communities. “We are grateful to Catalyst’s partners who understand that climate management means supporting emission-elimination technologies and that solving climate problems requires nothing less than mobilizing the economic engine of the world to build the future on the grid,” he added.
LanzaJet’s Freedom Pines Fuels project is the company’s first commercial-scale SAF plant. It is also the first facility in the world to produce SAF fuel-based jets, which are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 70% compared to fossil jet fuels. The project should be completed in 2023.
This is a potentially big deal, as about 2 to 3 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from air traffic each year. Because sustainable aviation fuels are “fall fuels”, they are an important way to rapidly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from aviation worldwide with aircraft already in operation.
Once fully operational, this facility will be an important part of increasing SAF production and bringing sustainable and cheaper fuels to market. The plant is expected to produce 9 million gallons of SAF and 1 million gallons of renewable fuel per year.
This is approximately double the amount of SAF currently produced in the US using LanzaJet technology, and will be able to be used in much larger quantities in the US and around the world once the plant is built. Other projects that would produce more than a billion gallons of SAF per year are already planned in North America, Europe, and Asia.
It is notoriously difficult to obtain low-cost capital for Pioneer green projects.
These high-quality new technology projects often struggle to get cheap capital because they have high “green premiums” and often run into problems and costs they didn’t anticipate. especially in the current economic climate. Catalyst funding can reduce future investment and accelerate the spread of clean technology by providing money for these early commercial spaces.
In this case, the Catalyst grant helped Freedom Pines Fuels fill a funding gap. This allows the facility to maintain its current development schedule. The grant will also encourage more innovation at SAF, helping to create new markets for ethanol from sustainable sources that can be scaled up and have low carbon emissions. This is done by having the facility transition to second-generation ethanol, including ethanol made from waste, by the end of the fifth year of operation.
The move adds to what LanzaJet is already doing to build SAF facilities in the UK using second-generation ethanol and forming strategic partnerships to accelerate the development of advanced fuel, which is currently lacking in the market.
“LanzaJet is built on innovation, and we work hard every day to solve global climate challenges,” explains Jimmy Samartzis, CEO of LanzaJet.
“Partnerships are essential to maximizing our impact and scaling our technology to deliver significant quantities of sustainable jet fuel worldwide.
We have a real opportunity right on our doorstep to significantly scale up and deploy our technology globally, and we couldn’t build this facility so quickly or so inexpensively without the catalyst support of Breakthrough Energy, which reduced the total cost of capital and is critical to reducing emissions. accelerating the introduction of SAFs to the global market.
SAF is made from various low-carbon sustainable raw materials such as agricultural waste, municipal solid waste, energy crops, or carbon captured by industrial processes or ambient air. It can be used instead of conventional jet fuel and is compatible with existing aircraft and infrastructure.
Compared to conventional fuel made from petroleum, SAF can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during its life cycle. It can also significantly improve local air quality by reducing particulate emissions.
LanzaJet’s Freedom Pines Fuels plant has already been helped by the US Department of Energy, the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund and LanzaJet shareholders Mitsui & Co, Suncor Energy, LanzaTech, British Airways and Shell. The Catalyst grant from Breakthrough Energy is a welcome addition to the project and will go a long way towards getting it up and running as soon as possible.