Industry support for sustainable aviation fuel mandates

Responding to DfT’s Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Mandate, UKPIA has indicated its support for the implementation of a mandate to promote the deployment of SAF in the UK.

The fuel industry indicates support for DfT’s Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Mandate to promote deployment of SAF in the UK.

As the mandate states, using multiple technology pathways focused on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions is the most efficient way to implement low carbon intensity SAFs in the aviation fuel supply chain.

Part of the UK government’s recently announced Jet Zero Strategy to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions from flights by 2050, the SAF mandate was unveiled at the Farnborough International Airshow. Expected to enter into force in 2025, it will require at least 10 per cent of jet fuel to be produced from sustainable sources by 2030 and is aimed to support the deployment of sustainable aviation fuels in the UK.

The Jet Zero Strategy includes six priority areas; increasing support for SAF by creating and growing demand for SAF, developing carbon markets and greenhouse gas removal solutions, improving the efficiency of the existing aviation system and providing better information for consumers to make sustainable travel decisions – increasing understanding of non-CO₂ impacts of aviation and supporting the development of zero-emission aircraft.

The Jet Zero plan also sees a desire for at least five commercial scale SAF plants under construction in the UK by 2025 and companies running SAF projects will be able to apply for support from the £165 million Advanced Fuels Fund.

Downhill for carbon emissions

The government is also committing UK domestic aviation to achieve net zero emissions by 2040 and all airports in England to be zero-emission by the same year and includes a plan for the aviation industry to stay at below pre-Covid levels of emissions through a range of measures, including system efficiencies and new technologies.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps commented: “We want 2019 to be remembered as the peak year for aviation emissions. From now on, it should all be downhill for carbon emissions – and steadily uphill for green flights.

“The UK is setting an example of the ambition needed to tackle climate change, and the Jet Zero Strategy provides a clear path to building a greener aviation sector for generations to come.

“Rather than clipping the sector’s wings, our pathway recognises that decarbonisation offers huge economic benefits, creating the jobs and industries of the future making sure UK businesses are at the forefront of this green revolution.”

The new strategy has been developed following the work of the Jet Zero Council that brings together ministers, industry leaders and academics to discuss how to cut emissions from aviation.

Support from the sector

The UKPIA membership, including SAF producers and suppliers, is supportive of the approach the DfT has taken on prioritising GHG emissions reductions since focussing on the outcome of reducing emissions per litre of fuel will allow multiple technologies to develop to help deploy low carbon intensity SAF at scale in future.

UKPIA CEO Elizabeth de Jong commented: “This is an exciting time for SAFs in this country and we hope today’s announcement will see SAF development begin to take place at scale in the UK. We saw at COP26 that sustainable aviation is already workable with SAFs being bought to cover all of the London to Scotland flights by British Airways. However, the SAF mandate is about making SAF a more regular part of the supply chain.

SAF at scale

The Phillips 66 Humber refinery was the first in the UK to produce SAF at scale, which is currently being supplied to British Airways to help power a number of flights.

A multi-year agreement to supply British Airways with SAF was announced at the end of 2021 and Humber Refinery general manager Darren Cunningham, the lead executive for Phillips 66 in the UK, said at the time that the partnership reflected the importance the aviation and energy industries were placing on sustainability and the continued development, adoption and scaling up of sustainable aviation fuel.

“The Humber Refinery was the first in the UK to co-process waste oils to produce renewable fuels and now we will be the first to produce SAF at scale, and we are delighted British Airways is our first UK customer,” Cunningham said.

“Markets for lower-carbon products are growing, and this agreement demonstrates our ability to supply them.”

Both Phillips 66 and British Airways have indicated their support for a future SAF mandate.

The opportunity is clear, and Elizabeth de Jong encourages members to seize it: “I hope that our members – those already engaged on SAFs and those in the wider aviation fuels supply chain – can build on today’s foundations.  We’ll keep working with the DfT to make sure that ambitions remain high and that the business case keeps developing so that deployment of these fuels, which will be vital to 2050 and beyond, can soon begin at scale.”

The next consultation will take place in the Autumn.