British Airways’ owner takes off with fresh investment in SAF production

IAG is investing to support the next phase of Project Speedbird, a joint initiative between British Airways, LanzaJet and Nova Pangaea Technologies

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British Airways’ parent company IAG is investing in a project to support large-scale production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in the UK.

The airline has signed an agreement with LanzaJet and Nova Pangaea Technologies to accelerate Project Speedbird, a joint initiative between the three companies launched in 2021 to develop cost-effective SAF for commercial use.

The initiative was granted nearly £500,000 by the Department for Transport (DfT) to fund an initial feasibility study.

IAG is now investing to support the next phase of development work that will help decarbonise the aviation industry.

Once in operation, Project Speedbird would be the UK’s first SAF facility using agricultural and wood waste taken from sustainable sources.

Construction of the facility, which aims to produce 102 million litres of SAF per year by 2026, is expected to begin in 2023 in North East England.

The SAF produced would reduce CO2 emissions, on a net lifecycle basis, by 230,000 tonnes a year – equivalent to the emissions of around 26,000 British Airways domestic flights.

Overall, Project Speedbird has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 770,000 tonnes a year as the combined processes also produce renewable diesel and a material called biochar – a carbon-rich charcoal-like material left over after the agricultural and wood wastes have been processed.

It has also applied for the DfT’s Advanced Fuels Fund grant for additional funding, which is said to be key to the project’s continued development.

Carrie Harris, Director of Sustainability at British Airways said: “Project Speedbird is another great step towards our mission to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner and achieve our target of using SAF for 10% of our fuel by 2030. SAF is in high demand but in short supply across the globe and so it is essential that we scale up its production as quickly as possible.

“With further investment and continued government support, Speedbird will be a key and pioneering project in the production of SAF here in the UK. The biochar carbon removal opportunities are another important aspect of this impressive innovative project that can contribute to our net zero action. We are delighted to be a part of this important project, illustrating how we’re putting sustainability at the heart of our business with our BA Better World sustainability programme.”