Aviation industry publishes Fuelling the Future

Aviation industry publishes Fuelling the Future, calls for urgent review of UK Government sustainable aviation fuels policy

  • Potential to reduce UK aviation’s carbon emissions by 1.7 million tonnes per annum by 2030, and by 18% by 2050, through the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels, finds independent analysis by sustainable energy experts E4tech
  • Contribution of up to £480 million per year to the UK economy in 2030 with up to 12 new plants producing sustainable fuels
  • This potential can only be achieved if the UK government takes steps to actively support the development of new technology and provides a clear policy framework  to stimulate production and investment in sustainable aviation fuels
  • Sustainable Aviation calls for a joint public-private taskforce to address this policy vacuum, and to deliver full environmental and economic benefits to the UK

In its Discussion Paper, “Fuelling the Future”, published by Sustainable Aviation on the eve of the Farnborough International Airshow, the industry coalition sets out its views on the vital and increasing role of sustainable aviation fuels in significantly cutting carbon emissions from UK aviation. It also explores the contribution – up to £480 million – a burgeoning fuels market could make to the economy.

The 2012 Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Road-Map established SA’s view that UK aviation is able to accommodate significant growth to 2050 without a substantial increase in absolute CO2 emissions.  Fuelling the Future explores the specific contribution of sustainable fuels in delivering that goal, and finds that:

  • In 2030, it is estimated that up to 13 million tonnes of sustainable aviation fuels could be available globally.  This has the potential to achieve greenhouse gas emissions savings equivalent to 35 million tonnes of CO2.
  • In the UK, sustainable fuels could create high tech jobs and contribute up to £480 million per year in gross added value to the UK economy in 2030 with up to 12 new plants producing sustainable fuels.  This would lay the essential foundation for the market to mature from 2030 onwards.
  • However, this step change will only be possible if the current policy vacuum is addressed with a real focus on a new generation of sustainable transport fuels able to meet the needs of aviation.
  • Sustainable Aviation is calling upon the UK Government to articulate long-term goals and to provide an incentive framework to stimulate investment in new fuels, for both the environmental and economic benefits that global leadership would present to this country.
  • Unlike other transport modes, which can use hybrid or fully electric energy sources, aviation is dependent on liquid hydrocarbon ‘drop-in’ fuels and so should be a priority of government policy.
  • Sustainable Aviation has committed to working with Government to facilitate the introduction of sustainable fuels, and calls on Government to establish a joint public-private taskforce.

Sustainable Aviation is inviting feedback on this discussion paper, Fuelling the Future, from its stakeholders in Government, policymakers, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), industry and fuels experts, which will inform the development of SA’s Fuels Road-Map, due for publication by the end of 2014, as well as its future work programme in this area.

Jonathon Counsell, Chair of Sustainable Aviation, said:  “The UK aviation sector is unique in its commitment to working together to develop sustainable, low carbon, fuels that will deliver on its climate change commitments.  From recycling waste materials and gases into jet fuel, to the early stage development of algal oils for transportation fuels, the potential for the UK to become a centre of excellence for sustainable fuels is considerable.  We look forward to collaborating with Government to ensure policies are consistent across transport modes and drive the necessary investment.”

To read the “Fuelling the Future”, and to have your say, click here:

In parallel E4tech, an independent consultancy specialising in sustainable energy, publish their report “Sustainable Fuels: Potential for the UK Aviation Industry”, commissioned by SA.  This report confirms that SA’s predictions in its 2012 Carbon Dioxide Road-Map of an 18% reduction in CO2 from UK aviation by 2050 are deliverable through sustainable fuels if the right policies are introduced.

Dr Ausilio Bauen, Director of E4tech and Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College London’s Centre for Energy Policy and Technology said, “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation is critical to meeting long term decarbonisation targets, and low carbon fuels from biomass or waste carbon streams are essential to achieving significant emissions reductions in aviation.  Many options exist for producing low carbon aviation fuels, some commercial today, others close to commercialisation, and more at the R&D stage.  The transition to using these fuels can and would need to start today for them to play any significant role between 2030 and 2050.  Contributing to the development of this industry could also present growth opportunities for the UK”.

To read E4tech’s report in its entirety, alongside this Discussion Paper click here

In pursuing high volume production of these new fuels, SA members remain committed to the highest possible sustainability standards, ensuring that the raw materials and processes used have minimal impacts on direct and indirect land use, do not compete with food or water supplies, result in substantial life cycle carbon reductions and are independently certified to the highest sustainability standards, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB).

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