New Transport Minister Baroness Charlotte Vere said the government remains committed to developing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and moving towards a more sustainable aviation industry.
Vere made the comments at the Airlines 2022 conference confirming that five SAF plants would be under construction by 2025.
She also acknowledged that there would need to be support for SAF, which is more expensive to produce than conventional fuel however, she indicated that she was not in favour of large-scale government support like what has been implemented in the US.
The US government has pledged $4.3 billion to support the SAF start-up, compared to the UK’s £165 million.
“I think there will have to be some grown-up conversations about whether the industry pays, do the travelling public pay or does the taxpayer pay,” she said.
“I don’t think we want to follow the US model. The US model is short-term, I would look at something long-term.”
Virgin Atlantic Cheif Executive Shai Weiss said the UK needed 100 times the available production of SAF if it was to hit emissions targets.
“In the UK, there is no prospect of domestic production before 2025,” he said. “UK airlines will be forced to meet their obligations abroad. The government needs to think about SAF the way it thinks about offshore wind, nuclear or hydrogen.” Weiss called for direct investment in infrastructure and fuel subsidies.
“The UK has targeted five plants by 2025, but at the end of 2022 there is not a single plant that has reached final investment decision. I fear that in 2025 we will be seeing most of our capacity for SAF coming from abroad.”