Largest U.S. biofuels producer pledges carbon neutrality by 2050

Source: By Stephanie Kelly, Reuters • Posted: Wednesday, September 15, 2021

NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – POET, the largest biofuels producer in the United States, said on Wednesday it is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions at its bioprocessing facilities by 2050, making it the latest company to pledge to reduce its carbon footprint to fight climate change.

The Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based company also said it would ensure its ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 70% compared to gasoline by 2030, up from about 46% today, the company said. Refiners and biofuels producers are grappling with producing fuel in the United States, the world’s biggest oil consumer, that will be less harmful to the environment.

Ethanol’s effect on carbon dioxide emissions depends on how the fuel is made and whether its effect on land use is considered, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The Department of Agriculture said in July that greenhouse gas emissions from corn-based ethanol are about 39% lower than gasoline on energy equivalent basis.

POET has several ways to reach its goals, including carbon sequestration and the use of biomass and methane digestion to help power plant operations, said Jeff Broin, chief executive.

“The cars that are being produced and sold today will be on the road for close to 20 years,” Broin said. “We’re going to have a significant volume of gasoline for our vehicles for decades to come, and in addition we have fuel for trucks, for aircrafts, for ships, all of which needs to be low-carbon in the future.”

Governments need to offer more incentives to help companies reach climate targets, Broin said, such as ways to encourage the sector to use agricultural waste for power generation.

POET operates 33 facilities across eight states. At full run rates, it produces 3 billion gallons of ethanol, 14 billion pounds of distillers dried grains, and 975 million pounds of corn oil annually.

Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Aurora Ellis