UK Government reveals action plan for decarbonising aviation

Posted on 17 April, 2023 by Advance 

Ministers and aviation chiefs have revealed an action plan for the next two years in the race to reach Jet Zero by 2050 at the opening of today's Sustainable Skies World Summit in Farnborough, as the government continues with ambitious plans to decarbonise faster than any G7 country, grow the economy and support the creation of green jobs.


Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) FlyZero liquid hydrogen powered concept aircraft.
Courtesy DfT / copyright ATI

The Jet Zero Council – made up of industry, academic and government leaders – met today at Farnborough Airport. Through its two-year plan, the council committed to continue working to speed up the design, manufacture and rollout of zero emission aircraft and vital infrastructure at UK airports.

The plan sets out how the council will help to accelerate the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), by continuing to invest millions of pounds in first-of-a-kind SAF plants, supporting crucial scientific research on a larger scale, and helping to drive down production costs.

Farnborough Airport is also hosting the Sustainable Skies World Summit today, which gathers experts and leaders from the worlds of aviation, government, energy and engineering. UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper delivered the global Summit’s keynote speech, where he stressed the importance of the partnership between government, industry and academia in the international challenge to reaching Jet Zero.

The government has also welcomed the report Developing a UK SAF industry by Philip New, former CEO of the Energy Systems Catapult and BP Alternative Energy. The independent evaluation – commissioned by the Department for Transport – assesses what conditions are necessary to create a successful UK SAF industry.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "This government is a determined partner to the aviation industry – helping accelerate new technology and fuels, modernise their operations and work internationally to remove barriers to progress.

"Together, we can set aviation up for success, continue harnessing its huge social and economic benefits and ensure it remains a core part of the UK’s sustainable economic future."

Emma Gilthorpe, Jet Zero Council CEO, said: "It’s fantastic for the Jet Zero Council to be meeting today at Sustainable Skies, maintaining the momentum built by government and industry on our vital journey to decarbonising aviation.

"The two-year plan published today, building on recent government commitments to secure demand for SAF in the UK, will ensure we continue to accelerate progress and achieve the Jet Zero Council’s objectives of delivering 10% SAF in the UK fuel mix by 2030 and zero emission transatlantic flight within a generation."

The Philip New report sets out a number of recommendations to help stimulate SAF production in the UK.

The government response to the report details the extensive work that is already underway to meet many of the recommendations, whilst highlighting what additional action could be taken to drive further investment in UK SAF production.

The UK’s Sustainable Aviation Fuels programme is one of the most comprehensive in the world. The Jet Zero Strategy sets out how we can achieve net zero emissions from UK aviation by 2050, importantly without directly limiting demand for aviation and the £165 million Advanced Fuel Fund is also kickstarting production, with five projects already chosen to receive funding.

Turning to potential barriers to investment, the government recognises that many investors are looking for longer-term revenue certainty that the SAF mandate will not provide.

The government is therefore committing to work with the aviation industry on the best ways to decarbonise, including options for additional revenue certainty for a UK SAF industry.

Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Grant Shapps, said: "Having launched the Jet Zero Strategy last summer, I am thrilled to now support the launch of today’s new two-year action plan to future-proof the aviation industry and accelerate the delivery of new green jobs.

"Boosting investment in sustainable aviation fuels is at the heart of these plans today, marking a landmark step in spearheading the technologies that will keep passengers flying guilt-free."

Business and Trade Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “There is no time to waste in creating a sustainable, decarbonised aviation sector fit for the future. By working in partnership with industry, we are determined to accelerate the development of innovative zero emission technology and secure the long-term success of our vital UK manufacturing sector and its global exports.”

Developing new low or zero emission aircraft technology is an important part of the Jet Zero strategy. The government is co-investing, with industry, in innovative aerospace technology, through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme which has a £685 million R&D budget over the Spending Review period (2022/23 to 2024/25).

Through this Programme, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has committed to fund the ‘UK Hydrogen Capability Network - Phase 0 Project’.

Led by Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) this 12-month study will work closely with industry to define the operating model for a group of open access research and development facilities designed to accelerate the development of liquid hydrogen propulsion aircraft technologies, capabilities and skills in the UK. It will also explore options for the supply of green liquid hydrogen.

The study was inspired by the BEIS funded Fly Zero project, which published its conclusion in March 2022.

This study brought together experts from across the UK to explore the design, technical and commercial challenges in realising zero-carbon emission commercial aviation by 2030. It concluded that green liquid hydrogen offers the greatest potential to power a new generation of zero-carbon emission aircraft and recommended further work to explore collaborative R&D facilities.