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Farmers, airlines focus on the future of sustainable aviation fuel

A biofuels director says the ag industry needs fewer restrictions in the next sustainable aviation fuel tax credit.

Helena Jette with the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and the Indiana Soybean Council says the Treasury Department’s 40B tax credit was a good first step but misses the mark. “You’re going to see a lot of comments coming from a lot of different organizations voicing their opinions on some of those climate-smart agriculture practices that may need to be brought up,” she says.

She tells Brownfield the requirements for the tax credit are limiting. “The climate is different in all parts of the country, and some of those don’t make sense and where they’re at geography-wise,” she says. “So that’s some of those things you’re going to see. I think that’s going to play in a positive way to make sure that 45Z is a little friendlier to the agricultural space.”

Anthony Gregory, chief operating officer of renewable ventures with Southwest Airlines, says the company is excited for the opportunity to use corn-based ethanol in sustainable aviation fuels. “Because it’s an abundant feedstock, there’s hundreds of millions of tons of stover produced, just again as a byproduct of growing corn,” he says. “So we know that we have access to a significant amount of feedstock.”  And, he says it is a cost-effective option. “Using a residue, you already started a really low carbon intensity, and so it allows SAF to take advantage of some incentives that have been put in place at the federal level,” he says. “Certain states have these incentives that are motivating interests and a willingness for airlines to go purchase it.”

Jette says sustainable aviation fuel presents a tremendous opportunity to grow demand for corn and soybeans – but it isn’t the only market available and that’s its crucial to invest in market diversification.

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