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Half of the SAF projects expected to receive UK govt. funding are supported by British Airways

Photo: British Airways

Four aviation decarbonization projects supported by British Airways and designed to help the industry achieve its targets of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 have been shortlisted for funding by the U.K. government.

The Department of Transport's Green Fuels, Green Skies competition has awarded the funding to develop the U.K.’s first sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production facility. In total the government shortlisted eight projects to potentially receive a share of £15 million (USD$20.8 million) in its competition, all of which have a clear potential to produce SAF capable of reducing emissions by more than 70 percent on a lifecycle basis when used in place of conventional fossil jet fuel.

British Airways is directly involved in four of those projects, which, pending the completion of grant agreements, can all press ahead with developing their feasibility and engineering plans.

The airline is partnering with technology company Velocys on the Altalto project to build a commercial waste-to-SAF plant in Immingham, Lincolnshire. Altalto will take more than half a-million metric tons per year of household and commercial waste and produce up to 80 million liters (21.1 million gallons) of SAF and naphtha. The project has already received planning consent from North East Lincolnshire Council and is in the final stages of preparation for front-end engineering design.

Project Speedbird is a collaboration between British Airways, LanzaJet and Nova Pangaea, with a goal of producing 100 million liters (26.4 million gallons) of SAF a year from 2025, sufficient to power 2,000 flights from London to New York operated by an A350 aircraft. The technology is based on Nova Pangaea’s REFNOVA® process of converting waste wood into alcohol. LanzaJet’s alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) technology, which was developed by LanzaTech and the Pacific Northwest National Lab, then converts the alcohol to produce SAF and renewable diesel.

British Airways is also working on two further decarbonization projects with LanzaTech and LanzaJet that, if successful, could each produce more than 100 million liters (26.4 million gallons) a year of SAF. The first would involve capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and converting it into SAF. The second would support the development of a SAF plant in Port Talbot, South Wales, which would produce SAF from waste and industrial gases, with the potential to support significant jobs in the area.

“We’re delighted to receive this crucial support from the government’s Green Fuels, Green Skies competition for all these projects, which is critical in helping us to drive forward the development of sustainable aviation fuel in the U.K.,” said Sean Doyle, chairman and CEO of British Airways. “These plants would be a game-changer for our industry, not only delivering sustainable aviation fuel, but also creating many hundreds of highly skilled jobs while increasing economic growth around the U.K. Our parent company, IAG, was the first European airline group to commit to powering 10 percent of our flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030—purchasing 1 million tons of SAF each year, equivalent to taking a million cars off Europe’s roads every year. These projects are part of our journey to that SAF target and we look forward to pushing them forward.” Henrik Wareborn, CEO of Velocys, said, “Velocys has a long-standing relationship with British Airways and together secured the planning consent for Altalto Immingham, the first SAF plant in the U.K. designed around Velocys’ here-and-now technology solution. We welcome this new funding from the U.K. government, which follows on from the F4C competition, as it will help bring Altalto closer to the production of sustainable aviation fuel. The Green Fuels, Green Skies initiative highlights the importance of building SAF facilities throughout the country that will help the U.K. not only to meet the targets set but also to make a quantifiable impact on climate change.”

LanzaJet CEO Jimmy Samartzis added, “These projects are vital to our mission of expanding SAF on a global basis to help decarbonize the aviation industry and progress towards net-zero. At LanzaJet, we’re in a unique position with ready and scaling technology to produce lower-carbon, sustainable fuels. Our partnership with British Airways, Nova Pangaea and others provides novel and important integrated solutions for the U.K. Together, we are grateful to the prime minister and Department for Transport for their support in advancing the production of sustainable aviation fuel in the U.K.”

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