UK Government to encourage production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel with £165 million investment

The British Department for Transport has announced its plans to support the National Production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, or SAF. The implemented measures will encourage investment and research into the production of SAF in the United Kingdom.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel in Europe

This plan follows London Heathrow’s 2022 implementation of a SAF incentive program. The airport offered to cover up to 50% of costs incurred by using SAF to attract investors. UK Carrier British Airways has also offered customers the choice to pay extra for their tickets to ensure a proportion of the fuel used on their journey is SAF.

The world’s leading SAF Supplier is Finnish Oil Refining firm Neste. The supplier re-uses waste oil and animal fats to provide an operational equivalent to A1 Jet Fuel and boasts clients among Air France-KLM, Lufthansa, Frankfurt Airport, and Amsterdam Airport.

Animal Fat, a key component of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
Animal Fat is a key component of SAF. © Neste

The British Government announced its commitment to having at least 5 SAF plants under construction in the UK by 2025. Although British energy companies have expressed interest in SAF, the fuel’s production largely occurs elsewhere. Air BP, under British Petroleum, began supplying SAF from its Castellon Refinery in Spain in 2021. UK oil and gas producer Shell has declared that it will begin biofuel production in 2025, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

British Petroleum's Refinery in Castello, Spain. This is currently where their Sustainable Aviation Fuel is produced.
BP’s Refinery in Castello, Spain. © BP Air

In 2022, the British Government launched the Advanced Fuels Fund, which will grant funding totaling £165 Million to support SAF projects and research in the United Kingdom. To attract investment and guarantee long-term success, the UK Government’s delivery scheme proposes implementing a revenue certainty scheme for using SAF by 2026.

The Department of Transport’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel Mandate

Although the British Government has expressed interest in developing a leading SAF industry globally, current legislation to ensure the use of SAF is behind other European Countries. The Department of Transport has confirmed it will issue an SAF Mandate in 2025 but has yet to confirm exactly how much biofuel must be blended with regular fuel.

EU Carriers like Lufthansa will have to use Sustainable Aviation Fuel in every flight by 2025.
EU Carriers like Lufthansa will be required to use SAF in every flight by 2025. © Bene Riobó

This follows earlier mandates issued by Norway in 2020 and Sweden and France in 2021, where the use of A1 Jetfuel must be blended with a percentage of advanced biofuel. In April of this year, the European Union announced a mandate to ensure a SAF blending ratio of 2% by 2025, 5% by 2030, and at minimum 63% by 2050. Therefore, countries like Germany, Ireland, or the Netherlands might be more attractive for investment in Sustainable Aviation Fuel  – because clearly defined blending ratios provide increased certainty about future SAF demand.

How realistic is the British Government’s goal of being a leading country in the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Industry? Let us know in the comments.

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Bella Pelster
Bella Pelster
I'm a Londoner with a huge passion for travel, history and sustainability. In my spare time I love reading novels (any genre, any author) and watching television and films (mostly the sopranos)!