Urgent Government action needed to meet 10% Sustainable Aviation Fuel by 2030 target

posted on 29th November 2022 by Eddie Saunders
Urgent Government action needed to meet 10% Sustainable Aviation Fuel by 2030 target

Today the UK’s leading airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and air service navigation providers have published some emerging analysis from partners ICF – leaders in Aviation Sustainability consulting – showing that a UK SAF industry could meet the requirements of a UK 10% mandate, helping to boost UK energy security and create thousands of UK jobs in production facilities across the nations and regions of the UK including the Humber, North West, South Wales and Teesside.

Reaching the 10% 2030 target would then be a springboard for further advances helping us to reach net zero aviation by 2050.

The UK has sufficient SAF feedstocks (e.g., household, commercial, agricultural and forestry waste and waste industrial gases) for domestic production to meet well over the 10% UK SAF mandate by 2030, as well as the expected UK aviation demand for SAF in line with a 2050 net zero trajectory.

However, announced UK SAF projects would be able to meet only around 50% of mandated demand by 2030, and still require further policy support to be built. A reliance on imports to close the gap would face stiff competition in the face of global demand from EU mandates and targets being set in the US, Japan, Turkey, Canada, Australia and others.

The UK aviation and aerospace industries have reiterated calls for a price support mechanism, like a Contracts for Difference, which was successfully tried and tested to boost the UK offshore wind industry, to drive needed investment in UK production by giving investors’ confidence in a still nascent industry.

A price support mechanism, which is necessary due to the lack of price certainty for SAF, has helped develop a world-leading renewable energy industry which is now cheaper than the alternatives and has brought huge economic benefits to the country. Due to the nature of SAF, such a mechanism would be ideal for SAF.

Investment decisions are being made today, and significant investment is going to other countries, such as the US, given the positive policy decisions they have already taken to support their domestic SAF industries. Without more urgent action from the UK Government to help unlock private investment, we risk missing out on this opportunity to build a world-leading industry here at home.

Alongside this, the emerging analysis makes clear the importance of a strategy by Government to ensure that the needs of aviation for waste feedstocks and renewable energy to make low and zero carbon fuels are considered as part of the economy-wide net zero push. Without such action, feedstocks could be diverted elsewhere preventing the future production of SAF.

Sustainable Aviation Chair Matt Gorman, said: “Working in partnership with Government we have seen significant strides taken towards delivering a UK SAF industry with the £165m Advanced Fuel Fund supporting first-of-a-kind plants, confirmation of a SAF mandate and a clear target within the Jet Zero Strategy for 5 UK SAF plants under construction by the middle of this decade.

“The UK is on the cusp of something special, with a SAF industry capable of supporting over 20,000 UK jobs and generating £3bn in GVA by 2035, helping aviation decarbonise and strengthening our fuel security.

“But we need the final pieces of the puzzle in place, with new SAF capacity built and delivering SAF this decade.”

Heathrow Airport CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “UK aviation is committed to net zero and with the clock ticking, the faster we ramp up supply and use of sustainable aviation fuels, the quicker we can decarbonise.

“We’ve got 10% SAF usage by 2030 in reach but the missing link is a price support mechanism.

“If Government can act fast with policy support, we can foster investment in UK SAF, breathe life into a new British industry and help protect the benefits of flying for future generations.”

Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, said: “Sustainable Aviation Fuel production in the UK is falling behind other countries.

“There is no prospect of domestic production before 2025 and without urgent collective action, UK airlines will be forced to explore supplies abroad in order to achieve the certainty of supply needed for 10% SAF by 2030.

“The government needs to think about SAF the way it thinks about offshore wind, nuclear or hydrogen in order to support aviation energy transition, create energy independence, and promote sustainable jobs.

“With the right conditions to drive investment and production at scale, SAF represents the solution for medium and long-haul decarbonisation for decades to come.”

Kevin Craven, CEO, ADS Group said: “The aerospace industry is investing heavily in the next generation technologies needed to deliver net zero flight.

“To make the UK a leader in green aviation and maximise the jobs created here in the years ahead, the support of Government to deliver infrastructure, manufacture sustainable fuels and develop revolutionary technologies like electric and hydrogen propulsion will play a vital role.

“Delivering large scale UK production of sustainable aviation fuels has the potential to both ensure aviation meets the interim target of cutting emissions by 15 per cent by 2030, and to create 20,000 jobs.”

Rhian-Mari Thomas, CEO, Green Finance Institute said: “Building a UK sustainable aviation fuels industry can be a showcase for how public and private partnership can drive the transition to a net zero economy, even in the most hard to decarbonise sectors like aviation, by creating the right conditions for investment in breakthrough technologies.

“SAF is going to become a mainstay of global aviation, as a critical pillar of its decarbonisation story, and those countries that act decisively to attract global capital will be the ones able to lead and benefit economically from the transition to a net zero world.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “In Teesside we’re grasping the opportunities that development of sustainable aviation fuel presents with both hands – new investment, new jobs of the future and more homegrown energy produced locally.

“As demand grows, the UK must play a leading role in production of SAF to secure our domestic energy supply, reduce emissions and secure the enormous economic advantages that come in hand to create more good-quality jobs in industries of the future.”