Solar fuels company Joule looks to partner with Scatec Solar to bring photovoltaic power to Joule production plants
Joule, the developer of a direct, single-step, continuous process for the production of solar hydrocarbon fuels (earlier post), has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Scatec Solar ASA, a leading, independent solar power producer. In the MoU the parties have agreed to initiate a process to reach specific terms for a partnership, to support the roll-out of Joule production plants featuring photovoltaic power.
The terms of the MoU anticipate that Scatec Solar ASA will become preferred supplier and operator of photovoltaic power installations for Joule plants, with an initial deployment goal of up to 25,000 acres (~10,000 hectares) and a power requirement of 2 gigawatts. A deployment of this scale would generate up to 625 million gallons (~15 million barrels) of ethanol or 375 million gallons (~9 million barrels) of diesel per year, while consuming about 4 million tonnes of industrial waste CO2 annually in the process.
We have found an ideal strategic fit with Scatec Solar, who brings a turnkey solution for photovoltaic power along with a shared vision for sustainability. With ever-increasing global attention on the consequences of climate change, we have an opportunity to produce transportation fuels with the lowest-known carbon footprint—using solar energy both as a feedstock and a power source. This relationship exemplifies our approach to building an ecosystem of like-minded partners with complementary expertise, which in turn will fast-track the availability of CO2-neutral fuels to a planet in urgent need of scalable solutions.—Paul Snaith, President and CEO of Joule
Joule’s proprietary process allows significant reductions in overall carbon footprint by using solar energy to convert waste CO2 directly into infrastructure-ready, carbon-neutral fuels. By closing the carbon cycle, Joule’s fuels enable a sustainable form of combustion. The use of photovoltaic power for plant operations is expected to reduce Joule’s system-level carbon footprint even further, netting more than a 90% improvement over conventional fuel production.
Unlike fuels derived indirectly from algal or agricultural biomass, Joule’s process derives fuels directly from sunlight and waste CO2. The company’s engineered bio-catalysts produce ethanol or hydrocarbons for diesel, gasoline and jet fuel in a continuous process—free of the feedstock constraints and complex processing that hinder biofuels, and without diverting vital food crops to fuel production.
The combination of Joule’s optimized catalysts and system efficiencies is designed to result in highly-competitive costs and land productivities up to 100X those of biomass-based approaches. The company is now scaling its process for Joule Sunflow-E (sustainable ethanol) at its demonstration plant in Hobbs, New Mexico.
Audi earlier selected Joule as its exclusive partner in the development of biologically-derived ethanol and diesel following extensive evaluations of the proprietary technology and commercial plans. The relationship is helping to spur production of Joule Sunflow-E (ethanol) and Joule Sunflow-D (diesel), including fuel testing and validation, lifecycle analysis and support for the Hobbs facility. (Earlier post.)
Joule is privately held and has raised more than $160 million in funding to date, led by Flagship Ventures.