Urgent Government action needed to meet 10% Sustainable Aviation Fuel by 2030 target


Policy support, in the form of a price support mechanism, is needed to deliver sufficient SAF facilities to meet this target through UK production; announced UK plants would only meet around half of the target

  • New analysis shows that the UK has the necessary Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) feedstocks to meet the 10% UK SAF target by 2030 through UK production
  • A UK SAF industry could create over 20,000 jobs and generate £3bn GVA by 2035, according to previous analysis, in areas earmarked for levelling up including theHumber, North West, South Wales and Teesside

Today the UK’s leading airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and air service navigation providers have published some emerging analysis from partners ICF – leaders in Aviation Sustainability consulting – showing that a UK SAF industry could meet the requirements of a UK 10% mandate, helping to boost UK energy security and create thousands of UK jobs in production facilities across the nations and regions of the UK including the Humber, North West, South Wales and Teesside. Reaching the 10% 2030 target would then be a springboard for further advances helping us to reach net zero aviation by 2050.

The UK has sufficient SAF feedstocks (e.g., household, commercial, agricultural and forestry waste and waste industrial gases) for domestic production to meet well over the 10% UK SAF mandate by 2030, as well as the expected UK aviation demand for SAF in line with a 2050 net zero trajectory. However, announced UK SAF projects would be able to meet only around 50% of mandated demand by 2030, and still require further policy support to be built. A reliance on imports to close the gap would face stiff competition in the face of global demand from EU mandates and targets being set in the US, Japan, Turkey, Canada, Australia and others.

The UK aviation and aerospace industries have reiterated calls for a price support mechanism, like a Contracts for Difference, which was successfully tried and tested to boost the UK offshore wind industry, to drive needed investment in UK production by giving investors’ confidence in a still nascent industry. A price support mechanism, which is necessary due to the lack of price certainty for SAF, has helped develop a world-leading renewable energy industry which is now cheaper than the alternatives and has brought huge economic benefits to the country. Due to the nature of SAF, such a mechanism would be ideal for SAF.

Investment decisions are being made today, and significant investment is going to other countries, such as the US, given the positive policy decisions they have already taken to support their domestic SAF industries. Without more urgent action from the UK Government to help unlock private investment, we risk missing out on this opportunity to build a world-leading industry here at home.

Alongside this, the emerging analysis makes clear the importance of a strategy by Government to ensure that the needs of aviation for waste feedstocks and renewable energy to make low and zero carbon fuels are considered as part of the economy-wide net zero push. Without such action, feedstocks could be diverted elsewhere preventing the future production of SAF.

Sustainable Aviation Chair Matt Gorman, said:

‘Working in partnership with Government we have seen significant strides taken towards delivering a UK SAF industry with the £165m Advanced Fuel Fund supporting first-of-a-kind plants, confirmation of a SAF mandate and a clear target within the Jet Zero Strategy for 5 UK SAF plants under  construction by the middle of this decade. 

‘The UK is on the cusp of something special, with a SAF industry capable of supporting over 20,000 UK jobs and generating £3bn in GVA by 2035, helping aviation decarbonise and strengthening our fuel security. But we need the final pieces of the puzzle in place, with new SAF capacity built and delivering SAF this decade.’ 

Heathrow Airport CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said:

‘UK aviation is committed to net zero and with the clock ticking, the faster we ramp up supply and use of sustainable aviation fuels, the quicker we can decarbonise. We’ve got 10% SAF usage by 2030 in reach but the missing link is a price support mechanism. If Government can act fast with policy support, we can foster investment in UK SAF, breathe life into a new British industry and help protect the benefits of flying for future generations.’

Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, said:

‘Sustainable Aviation Fuel production in the UK is falling behind other countries. There is no prospect of domestic production before 2025 and without urgent collective action, UK airlines will be forced to explore supplies abroad in order to achieve the certainty of supply needed for 10% SAF by 2030. The government needs to think about SAF the way it thinks about offshore wind, nuclear or hydrogen in order to support aviation energy transition, create energy independence, and promote sustainable jobs. With the right conditions to drive investment and production at scale, SAF represents the solution for medium and long-haul decarbonisation for decades to come.’

Kevin Craven, CEO, ADS Group said:

“The aerospace industry is investing heavily in the next generation technologies needed to deliver net zero flight. To make the UK a leader in green aviation and maximise the jobs created here in the years ahead, the support of Government to deliver infrastructure, manufacture sustainable fuels and develop revolutionary technologies like electric and hydrogen propulsion will play a vital role. Delivering large scale UK production of sustainable aviation fuels has the potential to both ensure aviation meets the interim target of cutting emissions by 15 per cent by 2030, and to create 20,000 jobs.’

Rhian-Mari Thomas, CEO, Green Finance Institute said:

“Building a UK sustainable aviation fuels industry can be a showcase for how public and private partnership can drive the transition to a net zero economy, even in the most hard to decarbonise sectors like aviation, by creating the right conditions for investment in breakthrough technologies. SAF is going to become a mainstay of global aviation, as a critical pillar of its decarbonisation story, and those countries that act decisively to attract global capital will be the ones able to lead and benefit economically from the transition to a net zero world.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said:

“In Teesside we’re grasping the opportunities that development of sustainable aviation fuel presents with both hands – new investment, new jobs of the future and more homegrown energy produced locally.

“As demand grows, the UK must play a leading role in production of SAF to secure our domestic energy supply, reduce emissions and secure the enormous economic advantages that come in hand to create more good-quality jobs in industries of the future.”


Notes to editors:

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On Sustainable Aviation:

  • Sustainable Aviation (SA) is a unique alliance of the UK’s airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers, air navigation service providers and SAF producers, and is the first alliance of its kind in the world. Sustainable Aviation’s Decarbonisation Road-Map published in February 2020 showed how UK aviation can meet 70% increased passenger demand by 2050 whilst reducing net carbon emissions to zero. Both the Jet Zero Strategy and the Committee on Climate Change’s projections show that the industry’s plans for net zero can be met alongside passenger growth.
  • In Spring 2023 Sustainable Aviation will publish an updated Decarbonisation Road-Map. This will show how net zero aviation can be delivered, taking account of exciting recent developments in zero emission technologies like hydrogen powered aircraft, the progress of UK airspace modernisation and advances in carbon removals technology. Each has a role to play alongside the introduction of the latest most efficient aircraft. More information at
  • This emerging SAF analysis (in the attachment) will be finalised and input into an updated, comprehensive Decarbonisation Road-Map to be published by Sustainable Aviation in 2023.


  • ICF (NASDAQ:ICFI) is a global consulting services company with over 7,000 full- and part-time employees, but we are not your typical consultants. At ICF, business analysts and policy specialists work together with digital strategists, data scientists and creatives. We combine unmatched industry expertise with cutting-edge engagement capabilities to help organizations solve their most complex challenges. Since 1969, public and private sector clients have worked with ICF to navigate change and shape the future. Learn more at

On the role of SAF:

  • Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is a replacement for fossil jet fuel, derived from a variety of feedstocks converted into fuel via industrial processes. It has to meet strict sustainability criteria such as delivering at least 70% less lifecycle emissions vs traditional jet fuel and not displace or compete with food crops. SAF has similar physical properties to traditional jet fuel; when blended, it can be used in today’s aircraft and refuelling infrastructure without modifications.

SAF has the potential to reduce UK emissions in 2050 by at least 30%.

  • Contracts for Difference/price support explainer: As there are currently no commercial-scale UK SAF plants, there is currently no price point to help investors calculate returns on an investment in a UK SAF industry. To address this, a price support mechanism – such as a Contracts for Difference – sets a fixed price for SAF production by contributing the difference between the market price and the set price, ensuring investors are able to accurately predict returns. The Government introduced this for offshore wind and in doing so created a world-leading sector in which production costs have come down significantly.
  • Funding: A UK SAF industry would generate major economic benefits to UK PLC, adding billions of pounds to the economy (that would otherwise be spent on SAF exports from overseas) and generating thousands of UK jobs.

Any funding solution for the scheme should reflect the significant contribution of UK aviation, including the billions of pounds raised in Air Passenger Duty and the hundreds of millions of pounds raised annually from airlines through auctioning allowances under the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS). A proportion of these revenues should be reinvested into a UK sustainable aviation fuels industry, and continue the development of Zero Emission Flight technology R&D through the Aerospace Technology Institute. Analysis suggests that the costs of a CfD subject to final scheme design would be time limited, likely to require the equivalent of only a small proportion of revenues rasied by airlines from taxes like APD and UK ETS, but would help kickstart a new UK green fuels industry. Reinvesting UK aviation revenues into low-carbon technologies would follow the same principle as how innovative low-carbon technologies are supported within the EU as part of its Innovation Fund, which will allocate €10 billion over 10 years (2020-2030). For context, in total UK ETS auction revenue in 2021 for all sectors was £4.3 billion. UK government estimates that the UK ETS will raise over £6 billion in 2022 if prices remain at or around the current level, which is an average of £80 a tonne for the first six months of 2022.

  • Lifecycle explanation: SAF reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) compared to fossil jet fuel use (calculated with established life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies, such as CORSIA methodology) depending on the sustainable feedstock used, production method and the supply chain to the airport. For example, in the case of SAF produced from municipal waste, the environmental gains are derived both from avoiding petroleum use and from the fact that the waste would be otherwise left to decompose in landfill sites.
  • Non-Co2 SAF benefits: The UK Jet Zero Strategy sets out how there remain large uncertainties over the magnitude

of non-CO2 impacts from aviation on climate, and that the non-CO2 impacts of aviation on climate are

eight times more uncertain than those resulting from CO2. Research suggests that many of the measures to improve efficiencies, rolling out SAF, and accelerating the development of zero emission flight are expected to have a positive impact on reducing non-CO2 impacts. SAF use, for example, results in lower particulate emissions than fossil jet fuel use due to cleaner combustion; as a result, there is less contrails formation. Sustainable Aviation is committed to working with government to better understand and take actions to mitigte non-Co2 impacts.

  • List of Sustainable Aviation member SAF projects
    1. Altalto Immingham – Velocys’ waste to SAF plant in the Humber.
    2. Fulcrum NorthPoint – Fulcrum BioEnergy’s waste to SAF plant in the North West.
    3. Lighthouse Green Fuels – Alfanar’s waste to SAF plant in Teesside.
    4. Project Dragon – LanzaJet’s alcohol to SAF plant in South Wales.
    5. Phillips 66 – In the Humber.

Other SAF projects are also under development, including

  • Advanced Biofuel Solutions’ waste to SAF plant in Cheshire.
  • Green Fuels’ Firefly sewage to SAF plant.
  • Nova Pangaea Technologies’ SAF wood residues to SAF plant in Teesside.
  • A joint LanzaTech and Carbon Engineering captured carbon to SAF plant.

Timeline of SAF announcements: from 2020 Road-Map to present

In February 2020, Sustainable Aviation launched our Decarbonisation Road-Map – showing how we could achieve net zero aviation by 2050. Since then, our members have been working to support the roll-out of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), which will play a crucial part (alongside zero-emission flight; airspace modernisation; and carbon removals) in decarbonising the industry. Below are some examples of our work.

  • 18/11/22: RAF Airbus aircraft with Rolls-Royce engines becomes the UK’s first 100% SAF flight and the world’s first large military aircraft 100% SAF flight in the world
  • 19/10/22: SAF introduced for first time at Gatwick Airport in collaboration with Q8, easyJet, and Neste
  • 28/09/22: EasyJet and Q8 strike a deal on SAF for the next 5 years
  • 11/07/22: Alfanar’s SAF plant reaches FEED stage (becomes first UK SAF plant to do so)
  • 28/03/22: Airbus performs first A380 flight powered by 100% SAF
  • 21/03/22: Rolls-Royce signs SAF agreement with Air bp for engine tests
  • 15/02/22: Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Safran and Singapore Airlines sign Global SAF Declaration
  • 09/02/22: Virgin Atlantic agrees SAF deal with Neste and ExxonMobil
  • 03/12/21: BA signs deal with Phillipps 66 to become first airline in the world to use UK SAF
  • 29/10/21: MAG and Fulcrum sign a MoU on SAF supply
  • 25/09/21: Jet 2 announces a jet zero strategy – commits to using UK produced SAF by 2026
  • 15/02/21: Fulcrum announces plans for a new waste to fuel facility in Stanlow
  • 25/01/21: Boeing announces a plan to deliver 100% SAF planes by 2030

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