Zürich, Switzerland: Cleantech venture capital pioneer Emerald Technology Ventures has invested into INERATEC, which provides sustainable aviation fuels for airlines and other companies. The $129 million Series B round, which was led by Piva Capital and joined by several other investors, will help INERATEC refine and scale up its production process to better serve existing and future customers. It is Emerald’s first investment into a sustainable fuels startup, a fast-growing space poised to play a pivotal role in the battle against climate change.
Karlsruhe, Germany-based INERATEC manufactures reactors that synthesize liquid fuels (also known as synfuels) from non-fossil-based feedstocks. Its patented technology and proprietary production process give it a high level of scale and efficiency. This should help it secure its competitive position amid rapid advances in the market for low- and zero-carbon fuels.
This sector is booming as large fuel consumers diversify away from traditional products like kerosene, which are usually refined from crude oil and are highly greenhouse gas-intensive. The current most promising end-use for synfuels is sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), largely viewed as the only viable pathway for airlines to achieve net-zero goals. These ambitions are spreading as the aviation industry recognizes the urgency of transitioning toward a less-polluting model. 2050 carbon neutrality targets have been adopted by many of the world’s largest carriers and the global industry representative body.
These aims are emerging alongside regulation pushing the sector to go green. European policymakers have set deadlines for carriers to incorporate certain percentages of SAFs into their fuel mix. And America’s Inflation Reduction Act provides tax credits for SAFs as firms look for ways to meet the Biden administration’s target of 100% American-made SAFs in the aviation fuel mix by midcentury.
The excitement surrounding SAFs and synfuels more broadly bodes well for INERATEC. Its reactors allow clients to produce synfuels from carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Both inputs can come from sources of varying cost, complexity and emissions footprint. CO2 can be captured from agricultural or industrial sources like cement, which would result in lower emissions across the fuel value chain compared with business as usual, or via direct air capture, which would be carbon neutral. H2 could be harvested from industrial processes or generated via electrolysis of water with renewable electricity.
This diversity of feedstock sources and maturation of production processes could see the global SAFs market expand by 28% per year between 2023 and 2035.
“Aviation is one of the hardest-to-decarbonize sectors and SAFs hold the key,” says Emerald partner Christoph Frei. “We are excited to support the INERATEC team as they move the needle on synfuels production in Europe and beyond.”
“This financing round is a major milestone not only for INERATEC. It’s a leap forward in the transition from fossil fuels towards sustainable e-fuels,” says Tim Böltken, CEO of INERATEC. “With the fresh capital, we are positioned to catalyze a paradigm shift in the energy sector.”