San Francisco Int’l Airport gets 1st piped batch of SAF via Neste

By Ron Kotrba | July 07, 2020

Neste Corp. has delivered its first batch of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) via pipeline where it will be used by major airlines to reduce carbon emissions. According to Neste, it is the first company to deliver SAF to SFO using the existing multiproduct pipeline infrastructure, which was designed to carry fossil fuels. Neste’s SAF, branded Neste MY Renewable Jet Fuel, is delivered to SFO in a 35 percent blend.

“The final processing and production activity for this batch of sustainable aviation fuel was completed in Houston, Texas,” Neste stated. “To get the fuel to California, Neste teamed up with Crowley, a family-owned vessel logistics and management company based in Florida, which transported Neste’s SAF to California on a U.S. flagged tanker where it was stored in a refurbished tank that previously was used to store oil products before being safely delivered to SFO. All this demonstrates the many potential economic benefits of a thriving biofuel industry in the United States.”

The volume of SAF that Neste expects to provide to SFO will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 1,200 flights between SFO and New York City on an A320 or 737 out of service.

“This is a clear signal to anyone wondering what the future of air travel is,” said Chris Cooper, vice president for renewable aviation at Neste North America. “It will be low-emission, it will be sustainable, and it will be powered by sustainable aviation fuel. The FAA expects more than 1.3 billion Americans will board an aircraft in 2040. This milestone shows that Neste is ready to play its part to help the aviation industry plan for and create a sustainable future where we can keep these people flying with a much, much smaller carbon footprint.” 

In 2018, SFO signed a memorandum of understanding with Neste and a group of eight airlines and fuel producers to expand the use of SAF at the airport. According to Neste, the agreement was the first of its kind to include fuel suppliers, airlines and airport agencies in a collaborative effort to accelerate the global transition to SAF. 

“This is a major milestone in our goal to make SFO a hub for the use of sustainable aviation fuel in our pursuit of carbon neutrality,” said Ivar Satero, SFO airport director. “By focusing on the entire supply chain process, achievements like this one have the power to transform the landscape of our entire industry. I am grateful for our partnership with Neste to make this climate quantum leap a reality.”

The deal is part of SFO’s five-year strategic plan to become a “triple zero” campus, achieving not just carbon neutrality but also net zero energy and zero waste. In addition, Neste is targeting carbon neutrality in its operations by 2035.

Neste produces renewable diesel at its three biorefineries in Porvoo, Finland; Rotterdam, the Netherlands; and Singapore. The company’s Singapore plant is currently undergoing an expansion to double production capacity from 1.3 million tons per year (approximately 440 MMgy) to 2.6 million tons per year (880 MMgy).

According to Jeremy Baines, president of Neste U.S., the company can currently produce a total of approximately 34 MMgy of sustainable aviation fuel from its three biorefineries. “It is important to note that when the Singapore expansion comes online, it will be capable of producing 340 MMgy of aviation fuel—that’s an increase by a factor of 10,” Baines told Biodiesel Magazine. “The way we do it now is, we work with partners to finish the product. We make an initial SAF and then partners finish it off.”

The Singapore expansion project, which is anticipated for completion by mid-2022, will bring the company’s total renewable production capacity to 4.5 million tons per year (approximately 1.53 billion gallons per year).

The company is also conducting a feasibility study to investigate adding 450,000 tons per year (approximately 153 MMgy) of SAF production capacity to its existing Rotterdam refinery capacity by 2023.

Baines said Neste is “clearly looking at the U.S.” as a key, expanding market thanks in part due to current tax policy but, in the longer-term, carbon policies such as those in California, Oregon and potentially in Washington, among other emerging states and regions. “We do have a team in Houston looking at opportunities for a refinery in the U.S.,” he told Biodiesel Magazine. “Either ourselves or in partnerships.”  

Neste has certainly been expanding its feedstock collection operations in the U.S., most recently with its acquisition of Mahoney Environmental. According to Baines, Neste expects to collect roughly 600,000 tons of waste feedstock in the U.S., which he guessed may constitute about 20 percent of what Neste collects globally.

When asked what Neste thinks about the plethora of U.S.-based renewable diesel projects under development and what this means for Neste’s significant market share in the U.S., Baines said, “I think it’s fantastic. The market for renewable diesel is huge. Neste and all our competitors together still would not cover all the demand. Also, the more renewable diesel that is available, the more people would realize this is a true alternative. It will increase the security of supply. I think it’s a really good thing. The U.S. is [one of] the largest econom[ies] in the world. There is a lot of demand for diesel fuel and, hence, for renewable diesel in the U.S. The majority of diesel fuel is used for heavy-duty trucking, a sector that is hard to electrify, so we see the U.S. as a very important market—today and in the future.”


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