Kevin Lucke’s career at Chevron has taken him to a number of locations around the world where he was able to see many facets of the global energy industry, but the opportunity to return to his home state to lead Chevron Renewable Energy Group was one of the easiest “yesses” of his career.
Lucke grew up on a corn and soybean farm in western Iowa. He earned a degree in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University and began working at Chevron immediately after graduation. During his 40 years at Chevron, he has held a number of roles in engineering, commercial, supply chain and now the renewable fuels business. He took the role as President of Chevron Renewable Energy Group when Ames-based REG was acquired in 2022.
Lucke’s parents still own their Iowa farmland today and he and his wife, Sharon, live nearby and have an active role in the farming operation.
1. Chevron Renewable Energy Group recently celebrated its first anniversary as being part of Chevron. What excites you most about the opportunities ahead?
It is hard to believe that it has already been a year since Chevron closed on the acquisition of Renewable Energy Group, but it has been an extremely rewarding year of learning and growing.
In the short term, we have two really exciting projects happening within the Chevron Renewable Energy Group network including a lower carbon feedstock project taking place at our German biodiesel production facilities, and an improvement and expansion project taking place at our Geismar, Louisiana, renewable diesel production facility. Countless hours have gone into making these projects a reality, so I am really excited to see both of them come to fruition.
Longer-term, I look forward to continuing to see the growth of the renewable fuels industry. We are starting to see greater adoption of biofuels into fleets, especially in new markets like marine, rail and aviation. It is really exciting to see some of these heavy-duty modes of transportation making the shift to lower carbon fuels, and I look forward to continuing to watch this growth.
2. What role do renewable fuels play in the future of Chevron?
At Chevron, we believe that the future of energy is lower carbon, and we have a goal to profitably grow renewable fuels production capacity to 100,000 barrels per day by 2030. Following the acquisition of Renewable Energy Group, Chevron got approximately one-third of the way toward this goal. Upon completion of the Geismar improvement and expansion project, Chevron will be approximately 50% of the way toward this goal.
We do believe that it is going to take all forms of energy to meet the growing global energy demand. While we continue to invest in the renewable fuels industry, we are also researching and investing in other lower carbon options as well, including hydrogen, renewable natural gas, compressed natural gas and renewable gasoline blends.
3. What advantages does its Iowa location give Chevron Renewable Energy Group as it works to achieve goals in renewable fuel innovation and production?
Today more than ever, our business must have a strong partnership with the agricultural industry to be successful. Being located in Iowa, where we sit in the breadbasket of America, we are able to grow, develop and maintain these strong ties to the agricultural industry which is a huge benefit for us. In addition, I believe that being located in Iowa is really beneficial for our business because of the wealth of knowledge and innovation that takes place here. We have an extremely talented group of individuals working for us who are passionate about advancing the renewable fuels industry and finding innovative ways to get there.
As an Iowa native, I couldn’t wait to get back home to my roots, where I would have the chance to lead a business and industry that has revolutionized the future of the energy transition. It was also really exciting for me to be able to get back closer to the agriculture industry, especially in the state where I have continued to have an active role in farming.
4. What advice do you have for someone considering a move or return to Iowa?
My advice would be to DO IT! While I think there are countless reasons to move to Iowa — the beautiful environment, the low cost of living, the great education system, and more — the biggest thing I think Iowa has to offer that sets us apart is our people. I have lived in locations around the world and nowhere have I met people who are so kind, thoughtful and hardworking. I would encourage anyone who makes the move to Iowa to find ways to engage with our exceptional Iowa communities.
5. Please share three recommendations of things to do or places to go in Iowa.
Well, my wife and I own the local movie theatre in Harlan, Iowa and my wife actively manages it during the week and weekends, so my biggest recommendation of things to do in Iowa would be to come visit us at the Harlan Theatre! In fact, I would encourage you to support any local small-town theatre.
My second recommendation is to participate in Iowa’s annual RAGBRAI bicycle touring event. My wife and I have ridden the entire week five times in the past, and it’s always a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity to see our beautiful state while meeting lots of neat people.
Finally, I would recommend everyone attend the Iowa State Fair. I grew up serving as an FFA usher in the grandstand and got to see a lot of the fair along with some fun concerts as part of that. I have enjoyed going back to the fair in my adult life and it always makes me proud to see the many remarkable accomplishments of Iowans.