UK government paying £685 million for “sustainable aviation fuel” development over 3 years

The aviation industry, and pro-aviation governments, are doing all they can to convince themselves and the world in general that it will be possible – at some not-too-far-ahead date – to fly huge, heavy planes thousands of miles, but with no additional carbon entering the atmosphere. The trick most are banking on is “sustainable aviation fuels” (SAF). These fuels are going to have to be impressive, in being combusted in a jet engine, with no net carbon produced … The aviation sector is keen not to have to pay the fuel research costs itself. So it wants financial assistance from governments (ie. taxpayer money). The UK Sec of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, is an aviation enthusiast (he has his own plane), and is enthusiastic about funding being given to companies trying to make flying “green.”  In October 2021 the UK government announced it would provide £180 million to support the development of SAF plants.  In December we were told of £15 million being given to 8 companies. But now it is announced that £685 million is being given for a “sustainable aviation” programme over 3 years. The government wants to see perhaps 10% of SAF being used by planes by 2030 – even 50% by 2050 – the current figure is well below 1%.



UK boosts funding of green aerospace projects

By Rob Gill  – Contact Reporter (BTN Europe)

29 March 2022 /

The UK’s government’s sustainable aviation programme is to receive £685 million over the next three years – an increase of 50% on the previous round of funding.

The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) programme, which started in 2013, supports the development of new zero-carbon and ultra-low-emission aircraft.

UK industry minister Lee Rowley said that ATI would receive £685 million from the government between 2022 and 2025, which will rise to more than £1 billion with co-funding of projects by the aviation industry.

ATI has previously backed aircraft projects such as ZeroAvia’s six-seat hydrogen-electric aircraft and Rolls-Royce’s development of more efficient engines. The government also announced that the ATI programme will now continue to 2031.

“These projects are making a real-world impact and could one day help the global aviation industry transition to net zero,” said Rowley.

“Today’s commitment is a sign of our increasing ambition and will give large and small businesses the confidence to invest in the technologies that will bring civil aviation into the next generation.”

The government has confirmed that the ATI programme will reopen to new funding applications on 4 April.

Aerospace Technology Institute CEO Gary Elliott added: “The ATI will be able to invest more than £1 billion over the next three years in the cutting-edge technology needed to move towards our net zero targets.

“This has allowed us to reopen ATI funding to new applications from April and we will work with BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and Innovate UK to ensure that this funding drives UK economic growth and reduces global aviation emissions.”

The ATI programme is part of the government’s Jet Zero policy, which includes the Jet Zero Council, where ministers and members of the aviation industry discuss ways to reduce airline emissions. A final Jet Zero strategy is due to be published this summer.


See earlier:

Government £15 million funding for 8 companies, hoping to make low carbon jet fuels

The DfT has announced the spending of £15 million for 8 companies that hope to make the (dreamed of) low carbon jet fuels that the industry so desperately wants. None of the funding is, as far as can be ascertained, going into development of plant or animal lipids. Many of the contenders intend to use domestic, commercial or woody waste, to convert this using gasification and the  (energy intensive) Fischer-Tropsch process, into fuel.  One wants to use sewage. Another wants to use industrial flue gases. Another wants to use direct air capture CO2, combined with hydrogen from electrolysis.  There are grandiose claims about how much fuel will be made, how low its lifetime carbon emissions will be. In reality, it is unlikely that using forestry waste (not tree trunks) will produce much.  Domestic waste is a very variable material, that has proved difficult to reliably turn into fuel in any quantity (and it needs people to throw away enough food, plastic, paper and card). Many require large amounts of electricity that is genuinely produced from renewables, competing with other uses. And producing fuel is generally a less efficient use of electricity than using it directly for heating or movement. So a lot of pie in the sky. Watch how these develop in the next few years …


UK government invests £180m in SAF plants

By Molly Dyson  (Business Travel News, Europe)

20 October 2021

As part of its Net Zero Strategy, the UK government has announced it will provide £180 million in funding to support the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plants in the nation.

The government said its ambition is to enable the UK’s aviation industry to utilise 10% SAF by 2030, a milestone that is seen as a key factor in decarbonising the sector. It follows £21 million in funding for SAF announced last year.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the funding would also help to create “thousands of green jobs across the country”.

SAF is typically produced using waste and raw residue materials such as used cooking oil [there really is not very much of that]  and produces up to 80% less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional fossil fuels. [Note the wording, “up to” which could mean anything from 1% upwards ….] 

The announcement comes after Heathrow airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye called on the government to implement progressive mandates on the use of SAF as well as policies that could help scale up its production, which currently does not meet global aviation fuel demands.

Several international airlines have pledged to use SAF to power at least 10% of flights by 2030, including International Airlines Group, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, among others.

Heathrow and Gatwick have both made moves to integrate SAF into their fuel supplies.

Responding to the announcement, Nora Lovell Marchant, vice president of global sustainability at American Express Global Business Travel, said: “The UK Government’s £180 million investment to support sustainable aviation fuel development is a key step forward on the path to net zero emissions for travel and aviation. SAF is the only existing way we can meaningfully reduce emissions. If the UK is to achieve its net zero target by 2050, collaboration and investment across the public and private sectors will be necessary.”

In addition to money for SAF development, the government will inject an extra £350 million of its existing up to £1 billion commitment to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains, as well as £620 million for electric vehicle grants and infrastructure, particularly local on-street residential charge points.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “The UK’s path to ending our contribution to climate change will be paved with well-paid jobs, billions in investment and thriving green industries – powering our green industrial revolution across the country.”

Shapps added: “We published our Transport Decarbonisation Plan in July, which was just the start – as we look ahead to the COP26 climate change conference and beyond, we need to continue our efforts to deliver its ambitious commitments. This will provide certainty to drivers and industry as we create sustainable economic growth, boost job opportunities and clean up the air in our towns and cities.”

The UK will host the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.