New government-backed initiative launched to create a world-leading UK sustainable aviation fuel industry
Wed 20 Sept 2017 – Following a decision by the UK government to support the development of sustainable fuels for the aviation sector, a new initiative has been formed that will bring supply chain partners together with the aim of building a world-leading sustainable aviation fuel industry in the UK. Sponsored by the Department for Transport and industry coalition group Sustainable Aviation, the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Special Interest Group (SAF SIG) will be run by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), a government-backed programme to link business with R&D and investors. A third sponsor and network partner is Innovate UK, a government agency tasked with finding and driving science and technology innovations that will grow the national economy.
Sustainable aviation fuel has become one of 10 current time-bound Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that cover areas such as graphene, robotics and artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and synthetic biology. The SAF SIG team at KTN will aim to accelerate the development of a sustainable aviation fuel sector that could contribute £265 million ($360m) to the UK economy and generate 4,400 jobs by 2030. The team says it will bring the necessary supply chain together by brokering collaborations and supporting businesses to find the resources required to grow and innovate.
KTN says the formation of the group follows the ICAO decision last year to implement a global market-based measure for carbon-neutral growth from 2020. “Development of sustainable aviation fuels will be one of the measures to drive the UK forward and position itself as a world-leader in this field,” it added in a statement.
Leading the SAF SIG is Michelle Carter, Knowledge Transfer Manager for Aerospace and Aviation at KTN. “The launch of the SAF SIG is timely,” she said. “The transport fuel landscape in the UK is changing, with the focus now on decarbonising the aviation sector. KTN will play a crucial role in bringing together the components of the fuels supply chain by virtue of our broad sector knowledge. We are keen to expand our understanding of who the main stakeholders are in the UK and how they can contribute to the development of sustainable aviation fuels.”
The SAF SIG is the latest in a flurry of recent announcements over the development of sustainable aviation fuels in the UK. Late last month, the government confirmed it would provide funding for projects to develop low-carbon, waste-based advanced fuels for planes and heavy goods vehicles (see article). This week, it announced supplies of waste-based renewable jet fuels would qualify for incentives under the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) scheme (see article). This was swiftly followed by British Airways and renewable fuel technology company Velocys stating they were to partner on a project to determine the case for a series of waste-to-jet fuel plants in the UK.
Ian Jopson, Chair of Sustainable Aviation, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the SAF SIG. Sustainable Aviation has been working with government for a while now to ensure a level framework with automotive fuels and welcomes aviation’s inclusion in the RTFO. It presents an exciting opportunity for aviation, and the industry is now ready to capitalise on the opportunity.”
The SAF SIG team is keen for businesses and researchers to engage as early as possible in the two-year initiative and invites interested parties to join the group here.