South Dakota Searchlight has an interview today with the CEO of Summit Carbon Solutions Lee Blank, and COO Jimmy Powell, as they point out that it is vitally important for the ethanol industry in the state to be able to pump the CO2 generated in the process into the ground, because otherwise, it’s challenging to sell ethanol at a margin profitable for the Ethanol CO-OP’s. And without it, South Dakota will miss the opportunity to become a continental hub for renewable aviation fuel:
Powell: To sell in these markets, and to sell to the sustainable aviation markets, which are evolving, you have to have a carbon intensity score of less than 50.
This plant [NuGen in Marion] is one of the newer plants, and it’s in that ballpark. A lot of the plants that we partner with have a score in the 60s and 70s.
If they power this entire plant with a solar farm or wind turbines, it’s going to give them a three- or five-point reduction. Meanwhile, by pulling the CO2 stream out of their process, it cuts it 25 to 30 points.
So they can’t get the same bang for their buck doing anything but pulling the CO2 out.
Right now, it’s about a 50-cent margin in those low-carbon fuel markets. So, if it’s 15 cents to transport to those markets, they net 35 cents a gallon.
Powell: The goal of the major airlines, like Delta, United and Southwest, their goal is 3 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. They’re targets, but they are pushing for that today.
In this country today, there are less than 100 million gallons produced. So, plants have to be built and they have to be operational.
I’m sure you know about Gevo in this state being one. And if we don’t have this project, if it’s not successful in South Dakota, Gevo will not construct here.
So, the 15 or so ethanol plants in this state will be disadvantaged from that aspect. They won’t be able to access that.