British Airways has taken delivery from oil major Phillips 66 of an initial batch of the UK’s first commercial-scale production of sustainable aviation fuel. The fuel is being produced through co-processing at the Phillips 66 Humber Refinery in northeast England from sustainable waste feedstocks under a multi-year purchase agreement signed late last year for “thousands of tonnes” of SAF. Blended with conventional jet fuel, the fuel is added to the existing pipeline infrastructure that directly feeds several UK airports, including London Heathrow. The SAF is being produced from waste gases, crop and forestry residues, household and commercial waste, and used cooking oil, and, according to the partners, can lower lifecycle CO2 emissions by over 80% compared to traditional jet fuel. The airline says the purchased fuel will reduce lifecycle CO2 emissions by almost 100,000 tonnes, enough to power 700 net zero CO2 emission flights between London and New York on its Boeing 787 aircraft.
“Being the first airline to source sustainable aviation fuel produced at commercial scale in the UK is another breakthrough moment for us and the airline industry,” commented British Airways’ Chief Executive Sean Doyle. “Progressing the development and commercial scale-up of SAF will be a game-changer and crucial to reducing the aviation sector’s reliance on fossil fuels and improving the UK’s energy supply resilience.
“I’m confident that Britain can take a leading role on the global stage in this space, creating green jobs and export opportunities, if industry, developers and government continue to collaborate and make it a key focus area.”
Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Phillips 66 processes, transports, stores and markets fuels and products globally, and had $56 billion of assets as of the end of 2021.
“We were the first in the UK to co-process waste oils to produce renewable fuels and now we will be the first to produce SAF at scale,” said Darren Cunningham, Lead Executive UK and General Manager for Phillips 66’s Humber Refinery. “We’re currently refining almost half a million litres of sustainable waste feedstocks a day, and this is just a start.
“The strategic collaboration and supply agreement confirm each companies’ commitment to a lower carbon future. The production of SAF is just one of a number of decarbonisation projects we are currently progressing, and we are excited by the role we play in supplying the UK with the fuels it needs, both now and in the future.”
The two companies said they are supporting UK government plans for a future SAF mandate and a business model for investing in advanced waste-to-jet fuel projects through participation in the Department for Transport’s Jet Zero Council Delivery Group. “British Airways also continues to work with government on ways to provide certainty for investors to help the UK be a leader in SAF production,” said the airline.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps welcomed the UK’s first commercial-scale production and supply of SAF. “The fact it’s being produced here is a perfect demonstration how Britain continues to be a pioneer in developing green aviation technology. We can create thousands of green jobs while reducing the impact that flying has on the environment, so we can continue to connect and travel in a greener way.”
British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group, is investing $400 million over the next 20 years into SAF development and BA has existing partnerships with several companies, including LanzaTech, LanzaJet, Nova Pangaea Technologies and Velocys, to develop plants and purchase the sustainable fuel.
British Airways has just published its 2021 Sustainability Report. The airline has also announced a new way for customers on its short-haul European flights to help fund carbon reduction projects around the world. Through its onboard Speedbird Café menu app, a new category can be found on the BA Better World tab labelled ‘Contribute to Carbon Offsets’. The £2.50 ($3) contribution represents the carbon compensation of an average BA European return flight per customer, it says, with the funds invested in verified CO2 emissions reduction and avoidance projects.
Photo: British Airways
British Airways has launched a new sustainability docuseries, with the first video focusing on SAF: