SAF production could be economic and environmental a boost to the region, say North West leaders

Developing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in the North West could deliver a wide-range of economic and environmental benefits, according to a group of industry leaders.

Representatives from The Department for Transport, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Warrington and Cheshire LEP, The North West Business Leadership Team, and Sustainable Aviation, among others, discussed the benefits SAF could bring, not only to decarbonise the aviation industry, but also to the prosperity of the region overall, at a roundtable event

They gathered at Manchester Airport after a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Fulcrum BioEnergy UK on 29th October, which will make the UK’s third largest global gateway the first in the UK to have a direct supply of SAF from Fulcrum’s planned Biorefinery ‘North Point’ in Stanlow, Cheshire.

At the meeting, attendees spoke in-depth noted the importance of effective communication about the benefits of SAF to the public, not only in relation to the environment, but also to support economic growth and be a key driver of a circular waste economy in the region. The role of SAF production will have in the creation of green jobs was also discussed, with the need to highlight any skills gaps identified as a priority from the outset.

The partnership between MAG and Fulcrum could see SAF make up 10% of the fuel used by Manchester Airport by 2026, and will work to support a sustainable recovery from the pandemic. Research by E4Tech in a Sustainable Aviation publication from 2020, showed that a North West SAF cluster could generate up to 1,520 jobs and £219m GVA annually in the North West and a total of 6,500 jobs and £929m GVA annually across the UK.

MAG is an industry leader in driving the decarbonisation of aviation, becoming the first airport group in the UK to be certified as carbon neutral in 2016 and is one of only two airport operators to sit on the Government’s Jet Zero Council.

(Left) Jeff Ovens, Managing Director, Fulcrum BioEnergy UK, (Right) Neil Robinson, CSR and Airspace Change Director, MAGThe Group was also a founding member of industry sustainability coalition Sustainable Aviation in 2005 and helped to spearhead the adoption of the world’s first decarbonisation road-map for achieving net zero emissions from UK aviation by 2050. SAF will be one of the key mechanisms for achieving this target, alongside the introduction of more efficient aircraft technology and air traffic management changes.

Fulcrum BioEnergy Limited UK is a subsidiary of Fulcrum Bioenergy, Inc., which was founded in 2007, is a leader in the development of waste to low carbon transportation fuels and has attracted world class energy, airline and development partners since its inception. It is currently commissioning the world’s first household waste to fuels facility – the Sierra BioFuels Plant – located in Nevada, US.

The Fulcrum NorthPoint facility is in development at Stanlow and will be unique in the UK SAF industry. The project will use proven technologies currently being deployed at its facility in Nevada, therefore significantly reducing typical ‘first of a kind’ risks normally associated with new technology. Fulcrum was recently awarded funding from the Department for Transport’s ‘Green Fuels, Green Skies’ competition, the proceeds of which will help develop the NorthPoint project further

Neil Robinson, MAG CSR and Airspace Change Director said: “The roundtable we hosted at Manchester Airport was very constructive, and it was encouraging to hear the range of ideas from all of our attendees about how the North West can have SAF at the forefront of its sustainability strategy.

“The support of the regional stakeholders will be key to ensuring that the development, production and use of SAF in the North West delivers on the wide ranging benefits we know it is capable of bringing.”