Comment: Refining a cleaner future for aviation in Washington

The CleanTech Alliance is working with others to develop sustainable aviation fuel to limit emissions.

Source Mel Clark, HeraldNet, June 1, 2024

The aerospace industry has a lofty goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. A critical tool to iterate toward this goal is sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

Currently, less than 1 percent of all flights utilize SAF. That leaves a significant gap between where aviation is as an industry and where it needs, and more importantly, wants, to be. Washington state, a long-time innovative leader and top destination for aerospace manufacturing and development, is finding opportunity and seizing the challenges of a creating a sustainable aviation industry.

Since its founding in 2007, CleanTech Alliance has worked to facilitate the next generation and growth of clean-tech companies and jobs through educational programs, continuing research, programs and services, particularly in Washington state. We’re proponents of exploring new technologies to develop and utilize SAF, and as we look to the future of aerospace, it’s clear that reducing the industry’s impacts on the environment must take center stage. That herculean effort begins with fuel. And the transition to SAF begins with finding cost reductions in its production.

Last year, Washington state passed legislation that creates tax credits for up to $2 per gallon for sustainable aviation fuels. The state also approved a bill aimed at accelerating the permitting and environmental review process for the construction of clean energy plants including SAF production facilities. We’re optimistic that these legislative efforts will serve as a roadmap for other states to follow as the aerospace industry moves further into a cleaner, greener energy future.

Reducing our impact on the environment is not the only benefit Washington state will see from its continued investment in SAF. These changes are encouraging businesses to plant roots here, creating jobs and economic opportunity. In fact, these legislative changes, in concert with our deep talent pool and rich history of aerospace manufacturing, have garnered the attention of BP, which will begin using Honeywell UOP Ecofining technology at its Cherry Creek in Colorado Springs, Colo., facility to increase its SAF production to help meet its supply goals by 2030. We’re also seeing the impact nationally, with companies such as Boeing committing to purchase 9.4 million gallons of blended sustainable aviation fuel to support its 2024 U.S. commercial operations. It is exciting to see clean energy projects creating economic development opportunities for communities across the state.

These developments are no accident. Lawmakers, aerospace advocates, and industry leaders like CleanTech Alliance, have worked to incentivize research, development and production of SAF as a key solution to the future of clean air travel. Streamlining the permitting for clean energy production facilities and making our state attractive to out-of-state companies will be paramount to continuing our leadership in sustainable aviation.

Mel Clark is the president and CEO of CleanTech Alliance.