United Becomes First U.S. Airline to Invest in Biofuel Refinery
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United Becomes First U.S. Airline to Invest in Biofuel Refinery

DALLAS — United Airlines Ventures (UAV) announced today a strategic investment in NEXT Renewable Fuels (NEXT), which is preparing to build a flagship biofuel refinery in Port Westward, Oregon, with production set to begin in 2026.

NEXT is a Houston-based company that is developing a biorefinery that, when completed, will be capable of producing up to 50,000 barrels per day of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), renewable diesel, and other renewable fuels. UAV could invest up to US$37.5m in NEXT as long as the company meets certain milestones.

The airline says that “once all the necessary approvals and permits are obtained and the biorefinery is operational, it has the potential to be used as a platform to scale SAF and deploy additional future technologies.”

The announcement marks UAV’s fifth SAF-related technology investment, and its first investment directly in a biorefinery.

Comments from United Airlines Ventures

“Right now, one of the biggest barriers to increasing supply and lowering costs of sustainable fuel is that we don’t have the infrastructure in place to transport it efficiently, but NEXT’s strategic location and assets solve that problem and provide a blueprint for future facilities that need to be built,” said Michael Leskinen, President of United Airline Ventures.

“We believe this investment will not only bolster NEXT’s ambitions and create near-term solutions to expand our SAF supply, but further demonstrates our commitment toward producing SAF at the scale necessary to decarbonize the aviation industry.”

United Airlines Ventures, which will be launched in 2021, is a first-of-its-kind sustainability-focused ventures fund that will target startups, emerging technologies, and concepts that will complement United’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050 – without relying on traditional carbon offsets like voluntary offsets or tree planting.

Featured image: United Airlines

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