FedEx joins Southwest as airline customers for Red Rock’s woody biomass to renewable jet fuel product
FedEx Express 767 and 777 Freighters (photo: Boeing)
Thu 23 Jul 2015 – FedEx Express has agreed to purchase three million gallons of renewable jet fuel annually over eight years from Colorado-based Red Rock Biofuels. This matches a similar agreement made in 2014 between the woody biomass to jet fuel company and Southwest Airlines. The two carriers will take Red Rock’s total jet fuel production from its new refinery in Lakeview, Oregon, which is expected to come online in 2017 after construction starts later this year. Partly funded by a $70 million grant from the US Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy, the $200 million refinery will convert around 140,000 tonnes of locally-sourced woody biomass into 15 million gallons per year of renewable jet, diesel and naphtha fuels.
“As we look to break ground on our refinery in the coming months, we’re thrilled to have signed a contract with FedEx as they look to diversify their fuel supply and reduce emissions throughout their aviation unit,” said Red Rock CEO Terry Kulesa, who is expecting to complete debt and equity financing for the refinery shortly.
Red Rock’s technology platform involves the gasification of woody biomass to produce synthesis gas that is cleaned and then converted through a Fischer-Tropsch process where it is in turn converted to liquid hydrocarbons before being refined into ASTM-approved renewable fuels. The company claims it can produce the renewable fuels at cost parity with conventional fuels because of the availability of cheap forest wastes.
“With our total jet fuel capacity now sold to FedEx and Southwest Airlines, we are building a suite of powerful, global customers that continue to commit to the future of alternative fuels in a market where oil prices are low, providing true validation of our business model and mission,” said Kulesa.
FedEx has set a target of sustainable alternative aviation fuels making up 30% of its jet fuel supplies by 2030 as part of efforts to reduce its environmental footprint. With a fleet of over 650 aircraft, the international freight and package delivery company used more than 1.1 billion gallons of jet fuel during its last financial year at a cost of $2.8 billion. Carbon emissions from the fleet amounted to 10.5 million tonnes in 2014, a decrease from 10.8 Mt the previous year as a result of a drop in overall fuel burn of 34.4 million gallons.