British Airways takes next step towards developing sustainable aviation fuel

Project Speedbird has applied for UK government funding to move plan forward

A Nova Pangaea Technologies factory. Photo: British Airways
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British Airways is pushing forward with an ambitious project to develop sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in the UK.

A deal signed with LanzaJet and Nova Pangaea Technologies accelerates the pace of Project Speedbird, which could lead to the establishment of a new centre that would produce sustainable fuel by 2026.

If successful, it could reduce CO2 emissions by 230,000 tonnes a year, the equivalent of about 26,000 British Airways domestic flights, the company said.

It came on the same day that Etihad Airways signed a deal to speed up decarbonisation efforts.

“Project Speedbird is another great step towards our mission to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner and achieve our target of using SAF for 10 per cent of our fuel by 2030,” said British Airways director of sustainability Carrie Harris.

“SAF is in high demand but in short supply across the globe and so it is essential that we scale up its production as quickly as possible.”

Under the plan, agricultural and wood waste taken from sustainable sources would be transformed into 102 million litres of fuel a year.

The processing facility is earmarked for northern England, with construction beginning next year and production starting by 2026.

Project Speedbird, launched by the three companies in 2021, has applied for Department for Transport funding to push the plan forward.

“This project will deliver the first end-to-end, sustainable value chain from agricultural and wood waste to SAF in the UK,” said Nova Pangaea Technologies chief executive Sarah Ellerby.

“It will undoubtedly play a very important role in the growing momentum towards decarbonising our aviation sector.”

The SAF will be developed using a combination of leading-edge technologies based on Nova’s technology.

Cepsa, a Mubadala group company, and Etihad Airways have signed a preliminary agreement to accelerate the decarbonisation of air transport by researching and producing SAF.

These fuels will be produced from circular raw materials that do not compete with food resources, such as used cooking oils, non-food animal waste or biodegradable waste from various industries.

Updated: November 02, 2022, 6:44 PM