UK Government awards alfanar £2.4m to develop SAF in Tees Valley

Posted on 16 March, 2022 by Advance 

The UK Government has awarded Saudi Arabia's alfanar £2.4 million to develop its site in Tees Valley, that will process household and commercial waste and turn it into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

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The £2.4 million was awarded by the Department for Transport (DfT) through their Green Fuels, Green Skies initiative and is announced as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited leaders in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh today for talks on energy, regional security and humanitarian relief, as he galvanises global action on the crisis in Ukraine.

Saudi Arabia is the third largest supplier of diesel to the UK but the Kingdom also committed to net zero by 2060 ahead of COP26 and is investing heavily in green technology at home and in the UK.

As part of today’s visit, Saudi Arabia’s alfanar group will confirm a new £1 billion investment in the Lighthouse Green Fuels Project in Teesside, utilising innovative technologies as it aims to become the first company to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from waste at scale in the UK.

The funding from DfT will help the project, called Lighthouse Green Fuels (LGF), to start the front-end engineering and design (FEED) stage of development. The site in the Tees Valley has already been acquired and commercial operations are planned to commence within five years.  

LGF will bring over £1 billion to the local area over the lifetime of the project. This investment forms part of the Government’s levelling-up agenda, as the project will also create over 700 jobs during construction and around 240 full-time jobs once it is fully operational. As part of this investment there will be initiatives for local skills development and training and the potential for bespoke apprenticeship schemes.  

The local and regional business community is an important element of the investment for alfanar who intend to use this established base for materials, services and staffing for the project.

The innovative waste-to-liquid (WtL) process destined for the Teesside plant utilises gasification and Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology to convert household and commercial waste - otherwise destined for landfill or incineration - into SAF. SAF generated by the LGF plant has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80% when compared to their fossil fuel equivalent. When coupled with carbon capture and storage (CCS) the SAF produced by the plant could achieve negative emissions.

The government want the aviation industry to be carbon neutral by 2050 and SAF will play a role in meeting that ambition. The government currently predicts that SAF will account for 10% of total UK demand by 2030 and 75% by 2050.  

Mr Jamal Wadi, CEO of alfanar Global Development said: “With this grant from the Department for Transport, alfanar will start bringing new jobs and new skills to the northeast and aim to be the first company in the UK to produce sustainable aviation fuel at scale.  We believe alfanar and Lighthouse Green Fuels can help the UK lead the way in decarbonising the aviation sector.”

Transport Decarbonisation Minister Trudy Harrison said: “As we build back greener, we want the UK to become a leader in sustainable aviation fuels, which will significantly reduce emissions from aviation and create thousands of green jobs. That’s why we are helping to kick-start this industry in the UK with £180 million in funding, as well as directly supporting the cutting-edge British facilities turning everyday waste into jet fuel. Our support of alfanar’s Tees Valley facility is helping to create hundreds of skilled jobs in the Northern Powerhouse.”

Today’s funding announcement follows a commitment last year by Saudi firm SABIC to invest up to an additional £850 million to reopen their hydrocarbons ‘cracker’ at Wilton and decarbonise their operations in the north-east of England. The Prime Minister is expected to visit SABIC’s innovation centre in Riyadh and meet representatives from the alfanar group. Through our Sovereign Investment Partnership, since 2021 the UAE has already invested in excess of £3 billion across life sciences, technology, infrastructure in the UK – as well as a multibillion pound investment from BP and ADNOC in clean hydrogen hubs.