Azure secures funding to develop Canada's largest SAF biorefinery

Azure secures funding to develop Canada’s largest SAF biorefinery

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) developer Azure Sustainable Fuels has now secured full funding to finish engineering plans for a 20,000 barrel-per-day production plant in Canada converting renewable feedstocks into lower-carbon jet fuel.

The company will complete front-end design in 2024 after securing USD40 million in recent funding, including from government agencies. Azure anticipates making final investment decisions in early 2025 targeting operations by 2027.

CEO Douglas Cole called the renewable diesel and SAF biorefinery the first Canadian plant specifically focused on sustainable jet fuel production at commercial volumes. It intends to integrate domestic agriculture and skills to supply cleaner alternatives reducing transport emissions.

Azure currently develops sites in British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario in parallel to maximise location flexibility. But the company must still finalise offtake agreements with airline customers wanting more Canadian advanced biofuel capacity long-term.

The funding should fully cover completing technical feasibility, planning and partnerships needed to sanction construction. Supporters include Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the Manitoba provincial government.

As part of emissions reduction efforts, Canadian energy officials and policymakers continue pushing biofuel adoption through incentive programs like federal clean fuel standards starting this year. Azure aims to qualify for such instruments driving investment activity around targeted renewable diesel and jet volumes.

Analysts say transport sectors expecting little electric or hydrogen penetration near-term like air travel require biofuels progressing toward Canadian net zero obligations. They believe backing Azure’s proposed SAF biorefinery helps accelerate viable solutions.

But competitors warn plant profitability depends on sufficiently compensating premium biojet pricing while production ceilings may trail projections if attempted scale outpaces regional feedstock volumes without imports.

Azure counters by citing partnerships with critical supply chain players, including engineering firm RICHARD and logistics giant CN Rail, essential to success. Agribusiness Bartlett and Shell’s biofuels division also provide process technologies optimising production.