UK 10-point plan addresses SAF, move to zero-emissions vehicles

By Erin Voegele | November 18, 2020

The U.K. government on Nov. 18 issued its 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution, which addresses sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and an accelerated phase-out of the sale of new gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles.

Point six of the plan focuses specifically on “jet zero and green ships.” The government said it plans to take immediate steps to drive the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels, investments in research and development to develop zero-emission aircraft, and developing the infrastructure of the future at its airports and seaports.

As part of that effort, the U.K. government said it will host a £15 million competition to support the production of SAF in the U.K., building on the success of its Future, Fuels for Freight and Flight Competition. The government will also establish a SAF clearing house to enable the country to certify new fuels. In addition, the government said it intends to consult on a SAF mandate, which it said will create a market-led demand for alternative fuels. Other initiatives will focus on battery and hydrogen technologies.

Point four of the plan focuses on accelerating the shift to zero emissions vehicles. The U.K. government plans to end the sale of new gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles by 2030, 10 years earlier than originally planned. The sale of new hybrid vehicles will be phased out by 2035. The government plans to consult on a date for phasing out the sale of new diesel heavy goods vehicles. Similar proposed policies in the U.S. have been criticized by those in the agriculture and biofuels industries for ignoring the potential of liquid biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

The U.K. Renewable Energy Association, however, welcomed the release of the 10 point plan, noting that biofuels will still be a necessary part of the transportation fuel mix. “Renewable transport fuels will play a critical and complementary role to this policy, and will be needed in greater volumes to ensure that we maximize emissions reductions from the millions of petrol and diesel cars and vans already on our roads, not just from new ones,” said Frank Gordon, head of policy at the U.K. REA.

The eight remaining parts of the U.K.’s plan focus on offshore wind; low-carbon hydrogen; nuclear power; public transportation; greener buildings; carbon, capture, use and storage; environmental protection; and green finance and innovation. The plan does not specifically mention the potential of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), a technology being piloted by Drax. It does, however, mention bioenergy as one of the 10 priority areas that would be targeted as part of a £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio the government plans to launch.

A full copy of the 10-point plan can be downloaded from the U.K. government’s website