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United Reveals Landmark Investment in NEXT Biorefinery

To become operational in 2026, it is hoped that the investment by UAV in the NEXT biorefinery at Port Westward, Oregon, will lower the cost of SAF and other renewables by providing the critical infrastructure needed for transportation.
United Airlines is diving head-first into the sustainable aviation fuel sector, with the goal of further reducing their carbon footprint. 

 

United Airlines Ventures (UAV) – which supports emerging and sustainable technologies within the aviation sector – revealed its strategic investment in NEXT Renewable Fuels on Tuesday, November 15, 2022.

 

A Flagship Refinery to Scale Up SAF and Renewables

With this investment – the first of its kind for a U.S. carrier – Houston-based NEXT will develop a flagship biorefinery in Port Westward, Oregon, with production expected to begin in 2026. It was also revealed that UAV is prepared to invest a further $37.5 million in NEXT, subject to certain targets being met. Once operational, it’s estimated that the biorefinery could produce up to 50,000 barrels each of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), renewable diesel and additional renewable fuels per day.

 

The chosen site of the biorefinery at Port Westward is especially strategic as it offers access to a deep-water port and docking facilities. The location also ensures good logistical connections for feedstock supply, which NEXT has secured in agreement with BP. Finally, UAV also confirmed that NEXT has secured an air permit for its facility from the state of Oregon. It is hoped that, once the biorefinery is operational, it can be used to scale up SAF and other renewable technologies.

 

An Investment to Ensure Critical Infrastructure

Speaking of the investment in a statement, Michael Leskinen, President of United Airline Ventures, said, “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. 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.”

 

Adding his comments, Christopher Efird, CEO and Chairperson of NEXT, said, “The clean fuels industry is taking off and our access to feedstocks, multi-modal distribution, and major industry players positions us to be a leading SAF supplier on the West Coast. United’s investment in NEXT strengthens our resolve to be one of the clean fuels leaders in the transportation sector.”

 

The move marks United’s latest efforts to go green and reduce their dependence on traditional fuels in the aviation sector. In 2021, the airline teamed with Nike and HP to create a business alliance focused on buying more sustainable aviation fuel for the carrier’s operations with the two corporate giants.

 

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