During the National Carbon Capture Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, panelists discussed the potential benefits of carbon capture for the ethanol industry.
Proponents of the carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) pipelines argued that the proposed projects would likely create a whole new range of opportunities for ethanol producers in the US.
On the one hand, decarbonizing ethanol plants is an obvious benefit that will help meet climate goals and reduce emissions on a national level, as outlined by Chris Bliley, vice president of regulatory affairs at Growth Energy.
But on the other hand, lower carbon intensity can open up new business venues for the sector, such as the production of sustainable aviation fuel or SAF, which is at present the most viable means of decarbonizing the aviation industry.
In turn, the only way for ethanol to become low-carbon enough to be used in SAF is through carbon capture.
SAF is already gaining plenty of traction with airlines shifting their focus to more sustainable practices and a number of large-scale deals already being inked, such as between Alaska Airlines and Microsoft or Virgin Atlantic and Air Company.
Summit Carbon Solutions, one of the companies aiming to build carbon capture pipelines to transport captured CO2 emissions from ethanol plants, says that CCS can bring down the carbon intensity score of the industry by 30 points, making net-zero achievable by 2030.
Furthermore, carbon capture also ensures ethanol producers can take advantage of incentives like tax credits, making it more economically viable for them and allowing SAF to compete with regular jet fuel.
The ethanol industry isn’t’ the only one that can reap the benefits of CCS, said Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, vice president of government and public affairs at Navigator CO2.
In her argument, fertilizer plants can also be included along the route of the proposed pipeline projects to reduce their carbon intensity, as well as that of the grain that is produced with fertilizers and is subsequently used in ethanol production.
Meanwhile, about 100 climate activists protested the proposed carbon capture pipelines, dubbing them a ‘false climate solution.’