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Green Jet Fuel - US corn farmers’ beacon of hope
USAgNet - 09/27/2023

Corn farmers in the US are amidst a transition. With electric vehicles (EVs) set to dominate, cutting gasoline demand, these farmers are seeking innovative ways to sustain. About 40% of US corn is converted into ethanol, a biofuel mixed with gasoline. The future Is all about flying green!

Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo Inc., sees this shift as a “lifeline.” His company is investing $850 million in a plant dedicated to green jet fuel from corn. The target is Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The President is all in, supporting electric vehicles and investments in SAF. The potential market is a whopping $105 billion by 2050.

However, challenges are in the air. Corn-derived SAF must prove its green credentials to avail tax benefits. It’s a race against time as ethanol consumption is predicted to drop significantly by 2050. The industry’s future is tied to embracing this “new and amazing opportunity,” as per Tom Vilsack.

Farmers, though, have reservations. An Illinois corn grower questions the long-term profitability of green aviation fuel, especially if it relies on government funding. The industry must prove its worth to farmers and overcome hurdles such as reducing its carbon footprint.

Airlines are aiming high, with Delta and United Airlines setting ambitious SAF consumption goals. The supply and infrastructure for green jet fuel need to scale up to meet these aspirations. SAF producers are potentially eligible for a $1.25 per gallon credit, but corn-derived SAF must clear the “massive hurdle” of reducing its carbon intensity by half.

The journey is long, but the opportunity is massive. As Vilsack emphasized, it’s a fight for survival, especially for small and mid-sized players. Green aviation fuel might just be the ticket to a sustainable future for US corn farmers and ethanol producers.

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