13 June 2024

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

French airport group ADP and Microsoft climate fund invest in SAF producer LanzaJet

French global airport operator Groupe ADP has invested $20 million in US-based LanzaJet, an emerging international producer of sustainable aviation fuel. The investment was made by ADP International, a subsidiary of the group, as part of a strategy to transform its airports into energy hubs able to provide electricity, SAF and low-carbon hydrogen. The investment follows LanzaJet’s recent activation of the Freedom Pines facility in Soperton, Georgia, the world’s first ethanol-to-fuel plant, capable of both SAF and renewable diesel production. Groupe ADP is the third company to invest in LanzaJet this year, after the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund and the world’s biggest low-cost airline, Texas-based Southwest. LanzaJet has global expansion ambitions, with plans to develop plants elsewhere in America, as well as in Europe and Asia. It is also a partner in a new SAF project planned for Queensland, Australia.

The latest investment by Groupe ADP  is part of a plan to supply SAF at competitive prices in France and globally, and specifically to help strengthen LanzaJet’s production and deployment capabilities.  

In addition to the three major airports in Paris – Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Le Bourget – Groupe ADP has management contracts or concessions at 23 more airports, including through investments in Turkey’s TAV Airports and Indian operator GMR Airports. Among the hubs it manages are those in three capitals: Zagreb, Amman and Santiago.

“Low-carbon aviation will not take off without the transformation of airports into energy hubs with a range of low-carbon solutions,” explained Augustin de Romanet, CEO of Groupe ADP. “The airport revolution must happen now, and it is underway in Paris.

“As the world’s leading airport operator, we want to go further and act at source by supporting the production of sustainable aviation fuel, investing directly in LanzaJet, an innovative company able to deploy its technology responsibly around the world, and adapting to local waste to make these new fuels available everywhere.”

Groupe ADP was also the first airport company to invest in the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund, an investment fund established by the world’s third-biggest airline to support the development of SAF. 

LanzaJet is aiming to produce 1 billion gallons of SAF (3.8 billion litres) per year by 2030 and, from the second half of this year, 10 million gallons (38 million litres) per year at its first US facility, Freedom Pines, which uses alcohol produced from feedstocks including municipal waste and forestry and agricultural residues.

“We continue to lay the foundation for building the SAF industry across the entire value chain,” said LanzaJet CEO Jimmy Samartzis. “With this significant contribution from Groupe ADP, a first-of-its-kind in the industry, we will expand LanzaJet’s technology deployment and global growth.

“Together, we will work towards expanding sustainable aviation fuel production and logistics into airports to support airlines and Groupe ADP customers worldwide as the industry works collaboratively to decarbonise.” 

The Groupe ADP investment closely follows another from Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, which also supports LanzaJet’s SAF development and deployment. The two companies will additionally explore how Microsoft’s data and artificial intelligence technology can support LanzaJet’s corporate functions and ethanol-to-SAF process technology.

Details of the latest investment were not disclosed, but in 2022 Microsoft provided a $50 million project finance investment to support construction of the Freedom Pines facility.

“Our continued alignment with Microsoft allows LanzaJet to build our team and capacity at pace to support global deployment of our leading sustainable fuels process technology,” said Samartzis. “Microsoft has played a significant role in making SAF production a reality in the United States, and this investment re-emphasises its urgent commitment to decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors.”

Through its investment in LanzaJet, Microsoft can also gain access to SAF and renewable diesel, and SAF certificates (SAFc) from future LanzaJet projects to progress its own 2030 carbon neutrality targets.

“Microsoft is proud to support LanzaJet with our investment in the growth of its sustainable fuel technology business,” said Brandon Middaugh, senior director of Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund. “Microsoft is investing in partners who share our commitment to advancing a net-zero economy and who are building the market for critical solutions like SAF and renewable diesel.”

Also this year, LanzaJet has received a $30 million investment from Southwest Airlines, as part of a broader deal in which the two will collaborate on developing a SAF production facility in the US. That project will progress the operations of another energy company in which Southwest is invested, SAFFiRE Renewables, which specialises in converting corn stover to ethanol.

Other investors and funders in LanzaJet include All Nippon Airways, Breakthrough Energy, British Airways, Lanzatech, Mitsui & Co, Shell and Suncor Energy.

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