UK SAF industry backed by £53 million government boost

The UK could be producing 70,000 tonnes of SAF per year
The UK could be producing 70,000 tonnes of SAF per year

The UK Government has announced a £53 million funding round to boost the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

From utilising forest waste to transforming power to liquid fuel, nine pioneering projects helping to create a cleaner future have been awarded a share of £53 million in the latest round of the Department for Transport’s Advanced Fuels Fund.

The full £135 million Advanced Fuels Fund pot is designed to help companies convert waste materials and by-products – such as household waste like cooking oil and industrial gases – into fuels. It can also help achieve greenhouse gas emissions savings of more than 70% compared to conventional fossil jet fuel. 

The Government says the winning projects from both rounds – spanning the length and breadth of the country from the Orkney Islands to the North of England and South Wales – will help create up to 10,000 green jobs by 2035 and boost the economy by around £1.8 billion every year.

This round’s winning projects include a demo plant converting sawmill and forestry waste, and a commercial plant using power-to-liquid technology to convert CO2 and green hydrogen into plane fuel. Together, both projects could create over 70,000 tonnes of SAF a year.

As a result, the UK could soon have the capabilities to produce up to 810,000 tonnes of SAF – enough to fly around the equator of Earth an estimated 3,108 times.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “The investment we’re announcing today demonstrates our confidence in the UK’s SAF industry - creating jobs, encouraging overseas investment and levelling up communities across the whole country.

“Thanks to this Government’s backing, the UK is quickly becoming a SAF superpower – ensuring people can continue to travel how they want, in a way that’s fit for the future.”

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, added: “Delivering a UK SAF industry this decade is a must if we are to drive down emissions from aviation, meet our 10% SAF mandate and reduce costs for consumers. We welcome this latest funding announcement, which will support a number of innovative projects across all parts of the UK.

“The pieces of the puzzle are coming together but more work is needed, in particular to deliver the initial plants under construction by 2025, whilst keeping overall transition costs as low as possible for passengers, so air travel can continue to be enjoyed by all in the decades to come.” 

With the upcoming SAF mandate requiring at least 10% of jet fuel come from sustainable feedstocks by 2030, the Advanced Fuel Fund is helping deliver that target. This will see the industry save up to 2.7m tonnes of CO2e annually - equal to taking 1,296,468 petrol cars off the road in a year.

As the UK SAF industry grows, it’s important it also has the capabilities to test the fuel being made, making the transition from the labs to the sky faster and easier than before.

That’s why a SAF Clearing House has been launched at the University of Sheffield, transforming the sector and helping to create jobs and grow the economy.

Thanks to £700,000 Government funding – with another £5.35m earmarked to support costs associated with fuel testing – this central hub will coordinate the testing and approval of new SAF, removing barriers for overseas investment and supporting the growth of SAF expertise in the UK.

Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Head of the Energy Institute at the University of Sheffield, said: "We're thrilled to be able to announce the selection of the Energy Institute at the University of Sheffield as the home of the UK SAF Clearing House. This significant and much-needed addition to the UK's decarbonisation landscape will help to reduce barriers to SAF delivery and will take a vital step on the journey to make SAFs a viable solution for the future of aviation.”

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