The UK aviation industry has taken a significant step in reducing net carbon emissions with plans to develop a new waste-to-fuel facility in Cheshire.
Clean energy firm Fulcrum BioEnergy Ltd has received a grant of approximately £16.8m to support the development of Fulcrum NorthPoint, a residual waste to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) facility, which will be at the Essar Stanlow Manufacturing Complex in Ellesmere Port.
The grant – from the UK Department for Transport Advanced Fuels Fund – will be used to fund engineering activities for the plant, which is expected to have the capacity to transform about 600,000 tonnes of non-recyclable household waste, which would otherwise be destined for incineration or landfill, into approximately 100 million litres of low-carbon SAF per year, when it begins operations in 2027.
Leisure airline Jet2 plc has invested an equity stake in the plant – one of the first such deals in UK aviation – and expect to receive more than 200 million litres of SAF over a 15-year period. The SAF is expected to achieve net emissions reductions totalling around 400,000 tonnes of CO2 for Jet2.com over the 15-year period of the agreement.
The strategic positioning of the plant means that SAF is expected to be delivered directly to Manchester Airport using the existing jet fuel pipework infrastructure, rather than having to rely on transporting the fuel by road.
“Fulcrum applauds the UK Government and the Department for Transport for taking another step toward significantly reducing net carbon emissions for hard to abate sectors, including aviation, through the support of low-carbon SAF projects, including our Fulcrum NorthPoint facility,” said Eric Pryor, Fulcrum’s president and CEO.
“This funding furthers our engineering efforts for the plant and well positions Fulcrum for additional project financing for the facility. We look forward to bringing our patented process, technical expertise, IP and experience from the successful commissioning and initial operations of our first commercial-scale plant to the UK to make Fulcrum NorthPoint a success.”
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: “Travel and tourism is a force for good and, like all industries, we know how critical it is to mitigate our climate impacts. This significant investment into Fulcrum NorthPoint’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel production in the UK shows not only how seriously we take that responsibility, but also how committed we are to taking tangible actions to address it.
“Not only will this action help to lower our climate impacts, but it represents a major step forward in our transition to net zero too. This type of investment is critical if we are to get this technology up to the scale required to decarbonise the industry. Our investment is a very clear demonstration that we are backing SAF and the UK production of SAF early. We are calling on the UK government to scale up its level of ambition and support for SAF production too. Doing this will help achieve decarbonisation of the aviation sector, stimulate uptake and seize the enormous economic opportunity here in the UK.”
SAF is widely recognised as the best way to decarbonise aviation in the medium to long term. The SAF produced at the NorthPoint site is expected to achieve life cycle emissions reductions of about 70% when compared to conventional aviation fuel, with the future potential to be fully carbon neutral.