13 June 2024

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

Government funding for zero emission aviation projects announced as UK plans for COP26 SAF flights

As the UK prepares to host COP26, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced the winners of a £3 million ($4m) fund to support zero emission flight aviation. The research and technology projects will help UK airports in handling new types of electric and hydrogen aircraft and cover wireless charging for airplanes and swappable airplane battery packs. The funding forms part of the UK government’s commitment in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, which also includes an ambition for the nation to become world leaders in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production. “With COP26 around the corner, we’re ramping up our efforts even further by funding the technology that unlocks the flights of the future,” said Aviation Minister Robert Courts. The government will be promoting SAF during the two-week climate summit starting in Glasgow on October 31 and is making a supply of SAF available at key UK airports for delegates flying home from the COP. British Airways has already announced the fuel for all its flights between the London airports and Glasgow and Edinburgh during the COP will be covered by SAF.

The latest grants have been awarded under the Transport Research and Innovation Grants (TRIG) Zero Emission Flight Programme, which in turn is part of the wider Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) project that is examining the introduction of hydrogen and electric aircraft into airports. Under the programme, 15 projects have received funding to undertake innovative science, engineering or technology projects focused on solving the challenge of introducing zero emission aircraft to airports.

Recipients of the grants include Cranfield, Warwick, Strathclyde and Queen’s Belfast universities and a number of UK-based companies and consultants. They also include start-up ZeroAvia, which is developing zero-emission, hydrogen-fuelled powertrain technology. It has received funding for a project to conduct research on the first generation of liquid hydrogen refuelling vehicles.

“As the world reopens from the pandemic, it is essential that we are investing in greener aviation as part of our transport decarbonisation agenda,” commented Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “Funding these revolutionary projects will help to slash carbon, create jobs and get us closer to our goal of operating zero emission flights.”

The government is backing the development of UK SAF facilities capable of generating over 70% lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions savings by turning materials such as municipal waste into jet fuel and sees COP26 as an opportunity for the UK to demonstrate its SAF commitment. The government/industry Jet Zero Council, which was set up last year as part of the Ten-Point Plan to enable the aviation sector to reach net zero emissions by 2050, has been working to provide the opportunity for delegates attending COP26 to fly home on SAF.

“We hope the use of SAF during the COP, combined with further action from the UK government, will raise awareness and incentivise a more rapid take-up of SAF both in the UK and around the world,” said Leigh Hudson, IAG’s Sustainable Fuels and Carbon Manager, who chairs the Jet Zero COP26 sub-group of the Council. “As well as reducing the overall carbon footprint of the COP and demonstrating the feasibility of SAF supply, the UK will be able to showcase the positive climate benefits of flying on SAF.”

During the past nine months, the group has estimated the volumes of SAF required, set sustainability standards for the UK supply and worked collaboratively on supply and logistics to ensure net environmental benefits can be quantified and communicated, Hudson told GreenAir.

SAF will be dropped into key UK airports during the COP26 meeting using their integrated storage and distribution infrastructure. SAF supply will be available at Glasgow International, Edinburgh International and Glasgow Prestwick in Scotland, as well as London Heathrow and other airports in England. To encourage wider availability of SAF during the climate summit, the government wants other locations and suppliers to take part in the COP26 initiative.

The effort is being coordinated by KTN, which acts as the secretariat to the Council’s SAF delivery group. KTN is curating a COP26 SAF supplier directory to provide a listing of suppliers and producers that have been working through the group and alongside the UK government to provide those flying out of COP26 airports with a range of supply chain options. Suppliers listed to date include Air bp, Neste and Q8 Aviation. The government is encouraging potential SAF suppliers outside the UK keen to support the COP26 initiative to confirm their interest to KTN by email.

“The Jet Zero Council is working to make sure delegates attending COP26 have the option to do so sustainably. Through a truly collaborative effort between KTN, British Airways, Department for Transport and Transport Scotland, nations can now make a tangible difference by ensuring they buy and fly on SAF,” said KTN CEO Alicia Greated. “The work of the Jet Zero Council will also future proof the UK SAF supply chain and create a legacy as we take the learnings from COP26.”


GreenAir Editor & Publisher Christopher Surgenor will be attending and reporting on events at COP26 in Glasgow, which takes place 31 October to 12 November. If you have any COP26 news to share, are hosting any events or are part of the aviation and climate eco-system at the event and would like to meet up, please contact him at christopher@greenaironline.com or via LinkedIn.

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