A Visit from St. Nicholas: The UK grants $99M to five commercial-scale SAF projects, just in time for Christmas

December 22, 2022 |

 

Before we relate the very exciting news of the UK’s $99 million investment via grants to 5 commercial-scale SAF projects, might we point out that Santa has been flying on 100% sustainable biomass since time out of mind. As of now, there’s competition in the sustainable skies of the far north. We might add, Santa has some competition in the Christmas gift department

The UK took a giant leap towards net zero carbon emissions and helping its sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry to take flight as government awarded 5 projects a share of the $198M Advanced Fuels Fund. $82M in all. The 5 projects alone will produce over 300,000 tonnes of SAF a year – enough to fly to the moon and back an estimated 60 times. The successful projects will also slash CO2 emissions by an average of 200,000 tonnes each year once fully up and running – the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road.

The projects

alfanar Energy Ltd (Lighthouse Green Fuels)

Based in the Industrial Cluster at Teesside, the project is developing a commercial scale plant that uses gasification and Fischer-Tropsch technology to convert black bin bag waste into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The plant is expected to be operational in 2028 and produce 86.6 kt/y of SAF when at full operational capacity. Award: £11,001,000

Fulcrum BioEnergy Ltd (NorthPoint)

Based in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, the project is developing a commercial scale plant that uses gasification and Fischer-Tropsch technology to convert black bin bag waste into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The plant is expected to be operational in 2027 and produce 83.7kt/y of SAF when at full operational capacity. Award: £16,764,000

Lanzatech UK Ltd (DRAGON)

Based in Port Talbot, South Wales, the project is developing a commercial scale plant that converts steel mill off-gases into ethanol and then uses alcohol-to-jet technology to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The plant is expected to be operational in 2026 and produce 79kt/y of SAF when at full operational capacity. Award: £24,960,843

Velocys plc (Altalto)

Based in Immingham, Lincolnshire, the project is developing a commercial scale plant that uses gasification and Fischer-Tropsch technology to convert black bin bag waste into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The plant is expected to be operational in 2028 and produce 37.4kt/y of SAF when at full operational capacity. Award: £27,000,000

Velocys plc (e-Alto)

This project is developing a large demonstration plant that uses power-to-liquid technology to convert carbon dioxide from a fossil gas-powered electricity plant and hydrogen made from renewable electricity into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Award: £2,523,094

The Advanced Fuel Fund backstory

Launched alongside the Jet Zero strategy in July 2022, the Advanced Fuel Fund is designed to support the UK’s vision to be a world leader in sustainable aviation fuel by accelerating the development of SAF production plants, helping the government to achieve its aim of having at least 5 commercial SAF plants under construction in the UK by 2025.

More aviation decarb help

Alongside the news, the government is also announcing a further £1.2 million for the Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) project to help develop key airport infrastructure, such as hydrogen re-fuelling technology, for zero emissions aircraft. Launched in 2021 with £3 million, this additional £1.2 million extends the project for another year to support airports prepare to handle new forms of aircraft. 

Meanwhile, the UK is also partnering with Kenya to help at least 5 East African countries implement the UN’s global carbon offsetting scheme for aviation, CORSIA. Under the scheme, airlines must purchase offsets to compensate for this growth, such as funding carbon-reducing technologies and initiatives in other sectors. This includes activities such as switching to renewable energy sources, capturing waste gases and avoiding deforestation.

Reaction from the stakeholders

Transport Secretary Mark Harper: “Using waste or by-products to refuel airliners sounds like a flight of fancy, but thanks to £165 million of government funding it’s going to help us make guilt-free flying a reality. It’s exactly this kind of innovation that will help us create thousands of green jobs across the country and slash our carbon emissions. The winners of the Advanced Fuel Fund are based across the UK – from the north of England to south Wales, and will create thousands of skilled, green jobs.”

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said: “The jet zero strategy was a real statement of intent from government that aviation, without the carbon, is an achievable end goal by 2050. This £165 million of funding – alongside the 10% SAF mandate by 2030 shows the government shares our ambition of a home-grown SAF industry here in the UK. This could generate tens of thousands of jobs and huge GVA, levelling-up and exports potential for the UK. It’s a big prize and one we are committed to working with ministers to achieve.”

Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, LanzaTech, said: “The Advanced Fuels Fund competition from the Department for Transport shows real leadership in validating new technologies that can have an impact globally and we’re excited that Project DRAGON has been recognized for its potential to deliver results and create new jobs while producing the volumes of SAF greatly needed by a sector that has limited options today. We must accelerate deployment of SAF plants in the UK and by working together, we can show the world what is possible, and I thank the UK Department for Transport for its continued support.”

Mishal Almutlaq, CIO, alfanar Global Development: “alfanar is proud to be part of the UK’s journey to cement itself as a leader in clean aviation, creating quality jobs in its industrial areas as well as developing know-how in this sustainable and innovative industry. Our Lighthouse Green Fuels Waste to SAF project in Teesside is in advanced stages of development with FEED progressing well since July 2022. The Advanced Fuels Fund will positively contribute to the development costs helping enable the project to reach final investment decision and enter construction in 2024. We appreciate the Department for Transport’s continued support and would like to thank them for awarding our project grant funding.

Henrik Wareborn, CEO, Velocys: “Velocys is delighted to receive 2 grant awards from the Advanced Fuels Fund, which will help to accelerate the production of SAF at commercial scale in the UK using our technology. The Altalto grant will allow us to begin FEED for our waste-to-SAF plant in Immingham, which already has planning permission. The e-fuels grant allows us to work with our partners to explore the UK based production of power-to-liquid SAF.”

Jeff Ovens, Managing Director, Fulcrum BioEnergy, “Fulcrum is very excited and grateful to have been awarded funding from the UK DfT’s Advanced Fuels Fund, to help develop our ‘Fulcrum NorthPoint’ residual waste to SAF plant, at Stanlow, UK. This funding will help Fulcrum build on the technical knowledge and experience the company has gained from well over a decade of project development and the early operations of its US based, ‘Sierra BioFuels’ plant – the world’s first waste to sustainable hydrocarbon fuels facility. Alongside the operational experience gained from Sierra, this DfT funding will further help de-risk the NorthPoint project and target ‘investor ready’ status, in preparation for construction start in 2025 and operations in 2027.”

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