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World Energy launching sustainable aviation fuel hub in Houston

World Energy announced plans to convert its existing facilities in Houston to a sustainable aviation fuel hub capable of producing 250 million gallons of cleaner jet fuel annually by 2025.
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On an otherwise normal flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport on Wednesday, a United 737 Max 8 passenger flight operated with 100% sustainable aviation fuel -- a first, and monumental, step for the aviation industry. (Courtesy: United)

World Energy announced plans to convert its existing facilities in Houston to a sustainable aviation fuel hub capable of producing 250 million gallons of cleaner jet fuel annually by 2025.

World Energy's current biofuel facilities, acquired in 2016, are located on the Houston Ship Channel at mile zero of all major U.S. pipelines, with direct deep water access at the heart of the U.S. energy production and distribution complex, and directly connected to two local international airports.

Between the Houston production facility and an existing facility in Paramount, California, World Energy expects to have 500 million gallons of SAF capacity by 2025. The company has a goal of producing 1 billion gallons annually by 2030.

"Houston is the logical choice for World Energy's Aviation Zero plant two," said World Energy CEO Gene Gebolys. "Not only does our positioning here provide unparalleled finished product access but provides tremendous access to global feedstocks, emerging sources of low-carbon hydrogen, and even access to captured carbon to advance commercialization of innovative new processes for the production of SAF."

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The hard-to-abate aviation sector accounts for 9-12% of U.S. transportation greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

While the technology to produce SAF exists today, global supply is only about 1% of demand. In 2018, about two million gallons of SAF were produced, according to the Energy Department, while global demand was estimated at 106 million gallons of conventional jet fuel in 2020.

The Inflation Reduction Act would provide incentives for nascent technologies critical to decarbonizing areas of the economy, like aviation, that can't be addressed simply by swapping in clean electricity.

Producers or airlines would be eligible for a credit of $1.25 per gallon of SAF plus up to an additional 50 cents per gallon for each percentage point of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reduced, as compared to conventional jet fuel.

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The Inflation Reduction Act defines the emissions reduction credit will be calculated based on "the most recent Carbon Offsetting and Re9 duction Scheme for International Aviation which has 10 been adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization with the agreement of the United States" or a similar methodology.

To be eligible, the SAF must be produced in the U.S.

World Energy's Gebolys called the law a "huge step forward in the race to transition to a low-carbon energy future."

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