UK Steps Closer To Aviation Decarbonisation
Project Speedbird, a collaborative initiative involving Nova Pangaea Technologies, LanzaJet, and British Airways, has successfully obtained a total of £9 million through the Advanced Fuels Fund (AFF) competition sponsored by the government. This helped the UK take a huge step closer to achieving its goal of Aviation Decarbonisation.
NPT, a clean technology company situated in Teesside, focusing on the development of advanced biofuels for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), secured £7.5 million within the collaboration. Additionally, LanzaJet, a prominent company specializing in ethanol to SAF technology and sustainable fuel production, is set to receive £1.5 million. The aim is for this financial support to play a pivotal role in positioning the UK as a global leader in the production of SAF and in the drive towards decarbonizing the aviation sector.
It follows the multi-million-pound investments from International Airlines Group (IAG) and British Airways earlier this year into NPT and Project Speedbird, respectively. IAG, British Airways’ parent company, is also a founding investor and shareholder of LanzaJet dating back to 2021.
The Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) will be created through a combination of NPT's cutting-edge technology, which transforms agricultural waste and wood residue feedstocks into second-generation biofuels like ethanol, and LanzaJet's exclusive technology which converts ethanol into SAF. Initially, NPT's ethanol will undergo processing into SAF at LanzaJet's Alcohol to Jet (ATJ) plant in Georgia, USA—the world's first of its kind. Subsequently, Project Speedbird plans to establish its own larger ATJ facility in the UK by 2027. British Airways has expressed its intent to procure all SAF generated by Project Speedbird for fueling some of its flights.
Project Speedbird aims to manufacture 102 million litres of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) annually, resulting in a net lifecycle reduction of 230,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. This reduction is equivalent to approximately 26,000 domestic flights operated by British Airways. The project is expected to achieve full SAF production capacity by 2028, aligning with the UK's SAF mandate. This mandate stipulates that at least 10% of jet fuel used by airlines must be derived from sustainable feedstocks by the year 2030.
Sarah Ellerby, the Chief Executive of Nova Pangaea Technologies, said, “Nova Pangaea Technologies are delighted to have secured this multi-million-pound investment. With support from the Government, and in partnership with British Airways and LanzaJet, we can now accelerate our next phase of development and the commercialisation of our technology, to help take the UK one step closer to becoming a global leader in SAF.
“Our first commercial-scale production facility will be the first of its kind in the UK, and will use wood residues and non-food-derived agricultural waste as its feedstocks. Our partnership, Project Speedbird, will play a transformational role in decarbonising the aviation sector, as well as providing local employment opportunities in the North East.”
Carrie Harris, the Director of Sustainability at British Airways, said, “Sustainable aviation fuel will play a critical role in meeting our net zero targets and is currently the only realistic low-carbon solution for long-haul flights, so it is vital that we continue to invest and develop SAF technology in order to create enough supply. We welcome the government’s investment and continued support in Project Speedbird, which represents landmark new technology for UK SAF supply. The UK has the potential to become a leader in the production of SAF, and this pioneering project is one step closer to this becoming a reality and a big moment for British Airways and UK SAF production more generally.”
Jimmy Samartzis, the Chief Executive Officer at LanzaJet, said, “The aviation industry has set ambitious and necessary targets to address the urgency of climate change, and this next generation of sustainable aviation fuels will be critical to meeting the industry’s goals. Project Speedbird is a tremendous example of what it takes to scale the industry and meet this moment. Government support like this is critical in facilitating that growth and we’re thrilled to be working with exceptional partners like Nova Pangaea Technologies and British Airways, making sure these goals become reality.”