From waste to jet fuel: Government awards £165m to five SAF projects

From waste to jet fuel: Government awards £165m to five SAF
From waste to jet fuel: Government awards £165m to five SAF projects

Projects across the UK set to produce over 300,000 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel

The government has today taken another step forward in its plans to deliver a net zero emission aviation industry, announcing five sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) firms are to share £165m of funding to help deliver their first commercial scale production plants.

The funding has been awarded from the Advanced Fuels Fund, which was announced earlier this year as part of the government's Jet Zero Strategy.

The successful projects include planned SAF plants from alfanar Global Development, Velocys, and Fulcrum BioEnergy located in Teesside, Immingham, and Ellesmere Port, respectively, which will convert everyday household and commercial waste, such as black bin bags, into sustainable jet fuel.

Other successful projects include a proposed SAF plant in Port Talbot from US carbon capture specialist Lanzatech which aims to convert steel mill off-gases into sustainable jet fuel and plans for a second Velocys SAF plant that could use captured carbon and hydrogen made from renewable electricity as feedstocks.

The Department for Transport said the five projects could produce over 300,000 tonnes of SAF a year - enough to fly to the moon and back an estimated 60 times.

The successful projects are also expected to slash CO2 emissions by an average of 200,000 tonnes each year once fully up and running - the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road.

"Using waste or by-products to refuel airliners sounds like a flight of fancy, but thanks to £165m of government funding it's going to help us make guilt-free flying a reality," said Transport Secretary Mark Harper. "It's exactly this kind of innovation that will help us create thousands of green jobs across the country and slash our carbon emissions."

The funding award was welcomed by Tim Alderslade, chief executive at Airlines UK, who said the £165m of funding coupled with the UK's planned target to require airlines to ensure 10 per cent of their fuel comes from SAF sources by 2030 "shows the government shares our ambition of a home-grown SAF industry here in the UK".

"This could generate tens of thousands of jobs and huge gross value add, levelling-up and esports potential for the UK," he added. "It's a big proze and one we are committed to working with ministers to achieve."

The government today also announced a further £1.2m for the Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) project to help develop key airport infrastructure, such as hydrogen re-fuelling technology, for zero emissions aircraft.

And Ministers confirmed the UK is to partner with Kenya to help at least five East African countries implement the UN's global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation, CORSIA. The UK has also formally joined the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) assistance, capacity building, and training programme for sustainable aviation fuels (ACT-SAF) to help other countries build out SAF supply chains and infrastructure.

The announcements come less than a week after the government announced Virgin Atlantic had won a funding competition to operate the first 100 per cent SAF powered commercial flight across the Atlantic next year.

The moves are likely to be welcomed by the aviation industry, which earlier this autumn published a report detailing how the UK had access to sufficient fuel stocks to produce SAF at scale and deliver on the government's 10 per cent SAF mandate.

But the report also warned that to meet the goal the government would have to move quickly to ensure feedstocks are secured and create a policy framework that delivers a second wave of large scale SAF production plants.

Green groups remain wary of plans to curb aviation emissions through an increased reliance on SAF, warning that concerns remain over costs, the scalability and sustainability of various feedstocks, and the huge challenge the industry faces delivering on emissions goals as it continues to grow.

* This article was originally published here