Sustainable Aviation Fuel Use Grows at Heathrow

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Use Grows at Heathrow
Sustainable Aviation Fuel Use Grows at Heathrow
Written by Harry Johnson

British government misses opportunity to back a UK SAF industry at the Autumn Statement, while EU and US markets take off.

Next year, airlines operating at Heathrow are expected to significantly increase their usage of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) due to the airport’s three-year extension of its carbon reduction program. In 2024, a substantial sum of £71m will be allocated to airlines as an incentive, with the aim of achieving a target of up to 2.5% SAF utilization in the total aviation fuel consumed at Heathrow. If successful, this would amount to approximately 155,000 tons of aviation fuel being replaced with SAF.

By narrowing the price difference between kerosene and Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), the initiative aims to incentivize airlines to adopt SAF, thereby making it a viable option for commercial aviation. The scheme has set a goal of reducing up to 341,755 tons of carbon equivalent emissions from flights in 2024, assuming a 70% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. This reduction is equivalent to over 568,000 round trips for passengers traveling between Heathrow and New York.

By 2030, Heathrow has set a target of achieving an 11% usage of SAF, gradually increasing the incentive each year. The airport considers the integration of SAF into its fuel supply as a crucial milestone in reducing carbon emissions, as it strives to reach net zero by 2050.

By utilizing feedstocks such as used cooking oil and various types of waste, SAF presents an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional fossil-fuel based kerosene. This innovative technology has already powered numerous flights, resulting in significant carbon savings of up to 70% throughout the lifecycle. Notably, SAF can be seamlessly integrated into existing aircraft, even at a blend of up to 50% and potentially 100% in the future, without requiring any modifications to infrastructure or aircraft engines. A prominent demonstration of its capabilities will take place on November 28th, with Virgin Atlantic’s 100% SAF flight from Heathrow to New York JFK, which will serve as a global showcase for this sustainable aviation fuel.

The Chancellor’s failure to seize an ideal chance to invest in the UK SAF industry during the Autumn Statement has resulted in this announcement. The potential benefits of creating a policy environment that fosters UK SAF production include the creation of thousands of jobs, billions of pounds added to the economy, and enhanced fuel security for the UK. However, the limited production volumes and high costs currently obstruct broader SAF usage, which is where Heathrow’s incentive scheme plays a crucial role in bridging this gap.

Policymakers need to act urgently in advancing legislation that supports the UK in the global sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) competition, despite the welcomed government commitments to consult on a SAF revenue certainty mechanism. The UK is falling behind while the US and EU are making significant progress, attracting billions of investment into eco-friendly fuel through government incentives and mandates.

Ministers must take immediate action to safeguard the future of Britain’s globally dominant aviation industry in a carbon-free world.

Heathrow Director of Carbon, Matt Gorman said: “Sustainable Aviation Fuels are a proven reality – they have already powered hundreds of thousands of flights and we will soon show we can fly the Atlantic fossil fuel free. Heathrow’s first of its kind incentive scheme has seen SAF use at the airport ramp up in recent years. Now, the Government needs to capitalize on this strong demand and legislate for a revenue certainty mechanism to enable a home-grown SAF industry, before it is too late for the UK to benefit from jobs, growth and energy security this would bring.”


WTNJOIN | eTurboNews | eTN

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About the author

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for mroe than 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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