UK government announces support for sustainable aviation fuel

posted on 5th September 2023 by William Hallowell
UK government announces support for sustainable aviation fuel

The UK government has announced its support for the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

It yesterday committed to introducing a revenue certainty scheme to support SAF production in the UK and boost its uptake, in a bid to give producers greater assurance about earnings from the fuel they produce.

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), the scheme will help to create more jobs and grow the UK’s economy.

As part of its Energy Bill, which is currently undergoing its third reading in parliament, the government has tabled legislation that will launch a consultation on options for designing and implementing the scheme.

The move will positively contribute towards the government’s ambitious commitment of having at least five commercial SAF plants under construction by 2025 and cement the UK’s status as a world leader in the industry, it said.

Baroness Vere, aviation and maritime minister, said: “Not only will sustainable aviation fuel bring countless economic opportunities, including creating thousands of green jobs, this certainty will allow the industry to harness its full potential, bringing us closer to net zero [carbon emissions] flying.

“This commitment is an important step to create cleaner and greener aviation in the UK and will cement our position as a global leader in innovation, creating a new talented workforce that champions decarbonisation and pave the way for future air travel.”

Grant Pearson, chair of the Jet Zero Council sub-group on SAF commercialisation, added that the scheme “will help maintain the momentum needed to capitalise on DfT’s support for SAF” and that “it will help reassure project developers that the UK is serious in its bold ambition to spearhead an innovative and highly sustainable domestic aviation fuel industry”.

The government said it recognises the importance of providing long-term certainty for the industry. It estimates that the scheme will help to create over 10,000 jobs by 2030, rising to 60,000 by 2050 – by which time the global aviation industry aims to be carbon neutral.

To achieve this, the Department for Transport will launch a consultation on the design and delivery of the scheme to bolster the development of SAF and drive further investment.

The revenue certainty scheme, which is intended to be funded by industry, will give the aviation sector the launchpad to confidently invest in sustainable aviation fuel and transition away from fossil fuel reliance.

In 2021, the UK government laid out its commitment to “enable the delivery of 10 per cent SAF by 2030”. To support this ambition, the Advanced Fuels Fund was launched in July last year to competitively allocate up to £165m in grant funding to support advanced fuels projects until March 2025.

A timeline has been set to illustrate the government’s plan for the consultation.

UK government's SAF delivery plan

However, campaigners have accused the government of making “questionable” promises, and call for alternative solutions to making the aviation sector sustainable.

Rob Bryher, aviation advocate at climate charity Possible, said: “The government is trying to use the questionable promise of alternative fuels to cover for the dangerous levels of growth in aviation emissions being pushed in their Jet Zero strategy.

“We know that sustainable aviation fuels will be very expensive and resource-intensive, with the feedstocks required likely to increase emissions and cause more problems than they solve.

“Instead, we need policies that reduce flights, including the frequent flyer levy and a kerosene tax, along with a ban on airport expansions, as a prerequisite for a climate-friendly aviation sector.”

Image credit: via Adobe Stock