UK government to mandate SAF by 2025


The UK government is planning to mandate the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) by 2025, according to a new report from its working group Jet Zero Council.

The group’s two-year plan to establish and accelerate the delivery of SAF includes a SAF mandate consultation which will open for responses this month, assessing feedback from this in the third quarter (Q3) of this year, confirming the details of the mandate policy in Q1 2024 and legislating the mandate in Q4 2024, ready to start in 2025.

It added the goal of having at least five commercial-scale SAF plants under construction by 2025.

The plan was published during the Sustainable Skies World Summit at Farnborough Airport, where the Jet Zero Council and the Transport Secretary Mark Harper announced the government’s plans to reach “Jet Zero” by 2050.

Alongside SAF, the government said it would invest more than £1m into research on the development of liquid hydrogen aviation technology.

“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,” said Harper. “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.”

Speaking at today’s summit on the feasibility of getting to SAF production to 10% of all produced per year, International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general, Willie Walsh said: “We can do it. I am not saying we will get to exactly 10%, we may miss it slightly we may exceed it, but is it possible that we can create sufficient evidence of demand that will encourage people to invest and governments to realise this is the way forward, absolutely.”

Walsh added that he gains in confidence every day that 2050 climate targets will be reached. “When I look at what airlines are committing to SAF, when I look at the quantities being invested in terms of infrastructure to build the refineries.” But the industry and government need to work together and that is why policy framework is so important, said Walsh.

There is no time to waste, according to Haldane Dodd, executive director, Air Transport Action Group. So much so he cut his presentation time in half in order to demonstrate how little time industry has to action its climate goals. “Governments now need to work a net zero strategy into their planning just as industry has committed to do. But setting a goal is just the first step, making it a reality will be a whole lot harder.”

One key area of attention Dodd noted is the transition away from fossil fuels towards low carbon energy.  Last year around 200,000 tonnes of SAF were produced and used globally. “We have 26.5 years to get up to somewhere near 400m tonnes being produced and delivered every single year if we are to close in on that net zero goal. We can’t underestimate that challenge. The oil industry took off at around the same time as powered flight and have been necessary partners ever since. Pivoting away from over a century of development is never going to be easy,” said Dodd.