Boeing, Alaska Airlines Lead Push for Renewable Aviation Fuel From the Northwest

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from what I can tell, and many readers, I’m sure, know all too well that these big infrastructure projects are risky (think Imperium Renewables’ Grays Harbor facility). Clearly, a biofuel refinery needs big, steady customers from its very early days to pencil out as an investment. Gardner assured me that the working groups haven’t succumbed to wishful thinking, or hometown boosterism that makes big corporations and politicians look good, but actually accomplishes little.

“This is an honest and candid attempt to put our finger on the pulse of the supply chain,” Gardner says. “We’re looking at the weak links, realistic timelines, and where there is money to be, and where investment may be foolish.”

Boeing’s involvement is obviously a key here. The aerospace giant has been concentrating on fuel efficiency for almost a decade now on its quest to commercialize its next-generation composite materials plane. Airlines that save money on operating costs (like fuel) can stay healthy enough to buy more Boeing planes. If biofuels, like the camelina-seed derived jet fuel from Seattle-based Targeted Growth, can be grown, refined, and consumed locally, the overall economic growth opportunity could be in the billions for the Northwest, Gardner says.

Then again, if Boeing and the rest of these stakeholders blare their trumpets on TV and don’t follow through with the jobs and economic growth they describe, then good luck trying to get public support for Biofuels 3.0. I’m very curious to hear what Gardner has to say about this plan at the upcoming Xconomy event. He sounded quite bullish when we spoke on the phone a few days ago, but not bubbly.

“We don’t need the hype,” Gardner says. “We need to deliver.”

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