Biofuels and the Uncle Sam: How much can you produce and when can you produce it?

May 26, 2011 |

The US Navy wants to know “how much, how soon?” as military and aviation sectors take bold steps towards biofuels at scale in the Pacific Northwest

In Washington state, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest group released a stakeholder report yesterday on how to build the first hub for renewable aviation fuels in the Pacific Northwest.

Nor that the US Navy released an RFI that indicated that it will fuel the first 450,000 gallon fuel order for the Great Green Fleet via the small hamlet of Manchester, Washington, less than 10 miles from Seattle on the Western Puget Sound.

The Pacific Northwest has out front on renewable energy and consensus-based public/private action for a long time.

There’s the development of Grand Coulee Dam, still the nation’s single largest source of renewable hydroelectric power some 70 years after construction. The remarkable series of Forward Thrust bonds issued for the clean-up and improvement of King County in the late 1960s. The development of Washington state’s Department of Ecology, which formed a blueprint for the development of the US’s Environmental Protection Agency.

Not to mention being an ancestral home of Boeing, United Airlines, Northwest Airlines, and the home today for Alaska Airlines. And home to Targeted Growth, Inventure Chemical, Blue Marble Biomaterials, Bioalgene, Imperium Renewables, among a host of bio-based companies developing renewable fuels capacity.

Now, back to the present.

US Navy

The Navy asks: do you have the capability?

The Government has an anticipated upcoming requirement for 100,000 gallons of HRJ5 and 350,000 gallons of HRD76 to support the Navy’s “Sail the Great Green Fleet” initiative.  The Government anticipates awarding a contract or contracts to support this requirement no earlier than October 2011. Delivery of both HRJ5 and HRD76 must be completed no later than May 1, 2012.

Here are the Navy’s questions:

1. Do you have the capability to produce and deliver the required amount of fuel before May 1 2012?
2.  If you cannot produce the entire quantities sought before May 1, 2012, how much could you produce?
3. If you are unable to produce and deliver the fuel before May 1 2012, what is the earliest date you anticipate you would be able to produce and deliver the fuel?

Interested? Contact DLA Energy Pacific, Simonpietri, the Senior Military Analyst at the U.S. Pacific Command Energy Office [email protected]

The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest group

Why the Northwest? It’s an 865 million gallon aviation fuels marketplace and, with major local employers Boeing and Alaska Airlines among regional drivers of the initiatives, there are reasons to believe that aviation and military biofuels will receive “enhanced attention” from state and local lawmakers intent on fostering green technology that meets state energy needs.

At stake: “One national study found”, says the SAFN report, “that producing 475 million gallons of biofuel in 2009 resulted in 23,000 jobs across the economy, $4.1 billion in added GDP growth, $445 million in federal tax revenues, and $383 million for state and local governments.”

Pacific Northwest Technologies and Feedstocks

Processing: The study identified Hydroprocessing, and technologies that use heat, chemicals and microorganisms to process woody biomass and cellulose into fuels and chemicals. This opens the way to using forest and agricultural residue streams, as well as significant portions of municipal and industrial solid waste.

Feedstocks: Oilseed crops, notably camelina grown in rotation with dryland wheat; Northwest forest residues; municipal and industrial solid wastes; algae production potential “through systems adapted to the region’s changing seasons”.

Policy recommendations for developing green fuels

The SAFN stakeholders indicated that progress on 6 fronts will put renewable aviation fuels on the fast track.

1. Create a strategic focus on sustainable fuels for aviation
“Support for aviation biofuels should at a minimum be equal to policies supporting other transport and energy sectors.”

2. Promote stable, long-term policy to attract investment
“SAFN specifically recommends allowing government agencies, including the military, to enter into long-term contracts for advanced fuels. The stakeholders also urge continuing and expanding key programs under the Farm Bill and other federal programs, and ensuring that aviation fuels and promising feedstocks qualify for incentives detailed in these programs.”

3. Ensure support for aviation fuels and promising feedstocks under the Renewable Fuel Standard 2 (RFS2) Program
“SAFN stakeholders urge support for this program and coordinated efforts to ensure that promising technologies and feedstocks used to produce jet fuels qualify for RIN credits.”

4. Provide strong state and local backing for this industry sector
“Even in today’s era of constrained budgets, there are a variety of steps that states and local governments can take to support development of supply chains for aviation fuels. These include support for key infrastructure needed for advanced biofuel refineries, targeted job training, and pilot projects.”

5. Target research and development on regional efforts critical to commercializing sustainable aviation fuel projects.

6. Incorporate sustainability considerations into efforts to create an advanced biofuels industry
“Not all bioenergy is sustainable energy. SAFN utilized principles established by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) to evaluate these issues.”

The complete SAFN report is here.

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