• North East Scotland Green Freeport

North East Green Freeport could deliver 1st Scottish SAF production facility


A Green Freeport in the North East of Scotland could play a significant role in decarbonizing the aviation industry by delivering a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plant that would create up to 920 jobs and £133 million (USD$157.5 million) in gross value added (GVA) per year.

The creation of the SAF facility at St. Fergus is a key part of the North East Scotland Green Freeport bid, which has a wider focus on investing in sustainable fuels to support the U.K.’s Decarbonising Transport strategy.

Derived from sustainable feedstocks such as household and post-recycling municipal waste, agricultural and forestry residues, SAF generates carbon savings of upwards of 70 percent compared to fossil jet fuel. A report commissioned by industry body Sustainable Aviation concluded a U.K. SAF industry could deliver £2.9 billion (USD$3.4 billion) annually to the U.K. economy, create 20,200 clean-growth jobs in SAF production and export services, with U.K. production saving 3.6 million metric tons of CO2 annually by 2038.

Driving a domestic SAF sector with the North East Scotland Green Freeport would put the U.K. at the forefront of world-leading aviation-climate solutions. It would create thousands of clean-growth jobs and provide a significant U.K. export opportunity as aviation decarbonizes globally.

“The SAF production facility at St Fergus is a key part of the region’s bid for green-freeport status,” said Jon Matthews, group head of capital and planning at Aberdeen International Airport. “It was identified based on the availability of feedstock required to produce SAF and the enabling carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) infrastructure. Securing green-freeport status would not only unlock the potential of this SAF plant, it would help retain and create jobs at St. Fergus, which is actively seeking a just transition of workers to clean-growth jobs.”

Steve Murphy, chief commercial officer at Storegga, the lead developer for the Acorn CCUS and hydrogen-infrastructure projects proposed for St. Fergus, said, “Becoming a Green Freeport is an important element of the collective Scottish and U.K. effort to reach net zero, connecting Acorn’s CO2 capture and permanent geological storage to emitters in central Scotland, English Freeports such as Thames and Solent, as well as international customers. As each day passes, the climate crisis worsens. It is vital we push hard to get important carbon reduction developments like Acorn online as swiftly as possible. The North East Scotland Green Freeport will accelerate and amplify the Scottish Cluster, including CO2 import facilities at Peterhead Port and Europe’s first at-scale direct air capture plant, which can support a new sustainable aviation fuel sector and help abate CO2 emissions from the transport sector.”

Cllr Anne Stirling, deputy leader at Aberdeenshire Council, said, “A Green Freeport for North East Scotland would play a critical role in building on the region’s low-carbon technologies and accelerating Scotland’s ambition of achieving net zero by 2045. Green-freeport status would strengthen the region’s capabilities of delivering this target and help establish Aberdeen as a global leader in the energy transition. The proposed SAF facility at St. Fergus is a strong example of Aberdeenshire’s potential to harness natural resources for the creation of sustainable fuel alternatives. Not only is this a positive step towards decarbonizing the region, but the site would also create hundreds of green jobs and accelerate the just transition of our workforce. This is an exciting venture, and we will continue to work closely with partners on its delivery.”

A North East Scotland Green Freeport is key to unlocking the SAF potential in the region.

It comes as more than 100 senior business leaders and cross section of politicians recently signed a statement in support of the North East Scotland Green Freeport bid, which will create 32,000 high-quality jobs and boost GVA by £8.5 billion (USD$10.1 billion) over the next decade.

The use of SAF does not require new technology for aircraft or the need for airports such as Aberdeen to invest in new facilities. Almost 500,000 flights around the world have already flown on SAF.

Around 73 percent of aviation emissions come from medium- and long-haul flights, which will still need liquid fuel in 2050, meaning SAF is a key, long-term solution to the U.K. aviation industry’s Jet Zero commitment.

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