Velocys secures approval from planning committee for UK's first waste-to-jet-fuel plant
Plans for the UK's first commercial waste-to-jet-fuel plant took a step forward this week, after the proposals were approved by North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC)'s Planning Committee.
All statutory consultees have now indicated their acceptance of plans from biofuel specialist Velocys to build a major new plant near Immingham in Lincolnshire. As such a formal decision notice is expected to be issued subject to the completion of standard legal agreements with NELC.
The proposed Altalto Immingham plant is designed to convert hundreds of thousands of tonnes a year of non-recyclable household and commercial waste, otherwise destined for landfill or incineration, into cleaner burning sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The project is a collaboration between Velocys, British Airways, and oil giant Shell. It is expected to create 130 permanent skilled jobs and hundreds more during the construction phase.
Jet fuels made from waste materials have long been touted as a means of slashing aviation emissions, despite concerns over the cost of production and the availability of sustainable feedstocks.
Several airlines have successfully piloted the use of biofuel and are stepping up efforts to increase their use of green fuels. But progress has been stymied over concerns about the higher costs associated with low emission fuels.
However, a number of high profile green jet fuel projects around the world are now scaling up amidst speculation that more governments could emulate Norway and impose new targets on airlines requiring them to source a proportion of their fuel from certified sustainable sources.
Velocys said its technology is well placed to address this growing market with the resulting fuel offering net greenhouse gas savings of around 70 per cent for each tonne of conventional jet fuel it displaces. It added that the fuel would also improve air quality, with up to 90 per cent reduction in particulate matter from aircraft engine exhausts and almost 100 per cent reduction in sulphur oxides.
Should the project secure final planning approval as expected attention will turn to securing further funding for the project to enable it to move to financial close.
The companies are aiming to begin construction in 2022, with a view to delivering low emission fuel from 2025.
However, they have also signalled that the final investment decision on the plant is likely to rest on the government co-ordinating supportive policies to bolster the commercial case.
"It's fantastic news that the Planning Committee has approved our waste-to-jet-fuel project, which will be a first for the UK," said Henrik Wareborn, CEO at Velocys. "Sustainable aviation fuels are essential for decarbonising this challenging sector and achieving net zero emissions by 2050. That's why Velocys are calling on the government to co-ordinate policy between departments to help us fund a fleet of world leading sustainable aviation fuel facilities in the UK."
The project was also welcomed by Councillor Philip Jackson, Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, who said it would help cement the region's place "at the heart of the UK's green industrial revolution", building on its position as a fuel production and offshore wind hub.
"For such a high profile project to choose North East Lincolnshire just shows how competitive we are for the investment market, and with projects like this choosing our patch just shows how we can work with the private sector to make locating here an easy choice," he added. "I look forward to seeing what this will mean in terms of real jobs for local people, both during the construction phase and when the project is operational in the longer term."
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