A rendering of the Fulcrum NorthPoint SAF facility (Image: Jet2 plc)
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Jet2 has invested in a new sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production plant, Fulcrum NorthPoint, being developed by Fulcrum BioEnergy in the North West of England. The equity stake investment will allow Jet2 to receive over 200 million litres of SAF over a 15-year period, which will be one of the longest SAF-supply agreements. The NorthPoint plant is expected to commence production of SAF in 2027 and convert around 600,000 tonnes of non-recyclable household waste into approximately 100 million litres of SAF annually. The plant will use Fulcrum’s proven waste-to-fuel process and directly benefit from the IP gained from its first commercial-scale waste-to-fuels facility, Sierra BioFuels in the United States.

Reducing aviation emissions with SAF

SAF is a sustainable alternative to fossil jet fuel, with the potential to significantly reduce emissions in the aviation sector. The fuel produced at the Fulcrum NorthPoint plant is expected to achieve a 70% reduction in life cycle emissions compared to conventional jet fuel and has the potential to achieve carbon neutrality. The deal with Jet2 is one of the first of its kind in the UK aviation sector and will result in net emissions reductions totalling 400,000 tonnes of CO2 over the 15-year agreement.

Supporting the UK’s Jet Zero Council strategy

The UK’s Jet Zero Council aims to accelerate the production of SAF as part of a national action plan to support the development of green aviation fuel and reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. The alfanar group’s Lighthouse Green Fuels Project, based at the former Air Products site at Port Clarence, will be the first company in the UK to produce SAF from waste on a large scale, creating more than 700 jobs during construction and around 240 full-time jobs once operational. With Jet2’s investment in the Fulcrum NorthPoint plant, the company is demonstrating its commitment to the UK’s Jet Zero strategy and the development of a sustainable aviation fuel industry.

Direct delivery to Manchester Airport

The SAF produced at the Fulcrum NorthPoint plant will be delivered directly to Manchester Airport via existing jet fuel pipework, ensuring efficient supply and distribution. This direct delivery method will further support Jet2’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company has already been recognised as a carbon-efficient airline, having purchased 98 Airbus A320/A321 neo aircraft with the possibility of extending the order to 146 aircraft. In addition, Jet2 has implemented a carbon offsetting scheme since January 2022, paying for every tonne of carbon emitted.

Global developments in SAF production

Other countries are also making strides in SAF production. India’s sustainable aviation fuel may gain international certification in 2023, with the Indian Institute of Petroleum collaborating with Boeing, Indigo, Spicejet, and Tata Airlines to support SAF development. Meanwhile, the University of Sheffield’s Energy Institute is set to open the UK’s Sustainable Aviation Fuels Clearing House in summer 2023, to test and certify new sustainable fuels and contribute to the UK’s efforts to bring new fuels to market.

Addressing the challenges of SAF production

While SAF production offers significant potential in reducing aviation emissions, there are challenges that need to be addressed. A report by Philip New, former CEO of Energy Systems Catapult and BP Alternative Energy, highlights regulatory uncertainty, high production costs, and a lack of supply chain infrastructure as the main challenges faced by the SAF industry. The report recommends the establishment of a policy framework, financial incentives, and a national SAF development fund to address these issues.