Velocys has received planning permission to build its first sustainable jet fuel plant in the UK and secured a further £500,000 ($627,000) in state funding.

The announcement follows the UK government’s formation of a new coalition aimed at achieving net-zero aviation emissions.

The company’s Altalto Immingham waste-to-fuel facility in Lincolnshire has been given the go-ahead by the local council and can proceed with plans to begin construction in 2021 with a view to producing aviation fuel from 2024. The facility will convert half-a-million tonnes a year of non-recyclable household and commercial solid waste into sustainable aviation fuel. Velocys said the UK Department for Transport had agreed to provide it with a further £500,000 grant, adding to state funding of £400,000 awarded in 2018.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced the government’s support for Velocys during a press conference last wek in which he also unveiled the formation of a new public-private sustainable aviation partnership and an ambition to demonstrate carbon-free transatlantic air travel “within a generation”.

Jet Zero Council formed

Shapps said: “We’re bringing together leaders from aviation, environmental groups and government to form the Jet Zero Council. This group will be charged with making net-zero emissions possible for future flights.”

Velocys chief executive Henrik Wareborn welcomed the additional funding and the Jet Zero Council announcement, which he said demonstrated that “a new era of net-zero carbon flying is on a credible path, at a time when we need it more than ever”.

Wareborn added the Velocys plant “could be producing sustainable aviation fuel in commercial scale by the middle of this decade”.

Facility being built in conjunction with British Airways and Shell

Velocys is building the facility in conjunction with British Airways and Shell. It announced in May that it had secured a further £1 million of funding for the project from the UK airline and the oil giant, payable by June 30. BA and Shell have been granted an option to take a one-third share in the equity capital of Altalto Ltd.

Under its Flightplan Zero programme, British Airways aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. It hopes that there will be 14 sustainable aviation fuel plants in operation in the UK by 2030.

Shapps’ goal to “demonstrate flight across the Atlantic without harming the environment” follows a similar announcement from the French government on 9 June. France plans to invest €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) over the next three years in the research and development of new technologies that will “accelerate the decarbonisation of the aeronautical sector”, with the aim of developing a carbon-neutral aircraft by 2035.

Industry body Airlines UK has welcomed the Jet Zero initiative. Chief executive Tim Alderslade sees “huge opportunities for the UK to be a world leader in sustainable aviation fuels production and electric aviation”.
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