Englewood, Colo.-based Gevo had to shut down its Luverne biofuel facility early in the pandemic, as demand for fuel plummeted when millions of people stayed home and stopped commuting.
The Luverne facility didn’t reopen until August 2021, when Gevo said it would use production from the plant to test operations for a new facility planned for Lake Preston, South Dakota. Production from the new plant is now not expected to start until 2025.
The aviation industry is under pressure to decarbonize amid pushes for change by investors, corporate customers, government, passengers and society, according to consulting firm ICF and others.
Sustainable aviation fuel is “our best opportunity today for meaningful reductions in emissions from air travel,” said Delta chief sustainability officer Pam Fletcher in a written statement.
But Delta would need 400 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel a year by the end of 2030 to meet its 10% goal, a heavy lift in a market that “remains nascent due to limited supply and high costs,” the airline acknowledges.
The airline last year partnered with other companies to buy 300,000 gallons of sustainable aviation fuel in a three-year deal with the idea of growing the market.
Delta also has agreements with other sustainable aviation fuel companies, including with Northwest Advanced Bio-fuels LLC to potentially get 60 million gallons a year starting in 2025, if a facility can be built to produce it, and with Aemetis for 250 million gallons of blended fuel over 10 years starting in 2024 from a plant under development.
And Delta is using an agreement with sustainable aviation fuel maker Neste for commitments with corporate customers to reduce emissions. Neste has been supplying San Francisco International Airport with sustainable aviation fuel, which is blended with fossil jet fuel before use.
Separately, Delta said it will work in an advisory capacity with Airbus, which is working to develop a hydrogen-powered aircraft.