Manchester Airport to become first in UK with direct sustainable jet fuel supply

Manchester Airport Terminal Two

Manchester Airport will become the first in the UK to have a direct feed of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), thanks to a partnership between Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Fulcrum BioEnergy Limited UK.

MAG – the owner of Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports – has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Fulcrum, which will support the development and delivery of SAF produced at a new waste to fuels biorefinery, on the Essar Oils refinery at Stanlow, Cheshire.

The £600m facility is planned to be operational by 2026, creating more than 800 direct and indirect jobs during the design, build and commissioning process, and approximately 100 permanent jobs during its operation.

As part of the agreement, backed by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, SAF will be supplied to Manchester Airport through a pipeline that already runs between Stanlow and the UK’s third largest gateway.

Fulcrum is a pioneer in the conversion of non-recyclable residual wastes into sustainable fuels. The new biorefinery, Fulcrum NorthPoint, is part of wider plans to establish the North West as the leading producer of SAF in the UK.

SAF is an advanced low carbon fuel obtained from sustainable feedstocks that can be combined with existing conventional jet fuel. SAF can achieve lifecycle emissions savings of more than 70% compared with conventional jet fuel.

The initiative could see up to 10% of the fuel used by aircraft at Manchester Airport replaced with SAF within five years of the Fulcrum NorthPoint facility becoming operational.

Neil Robinson, MAG CSR and airspace change director, said: “Today really is a landmark moment in our journey towards a decarbonised aviation sector. By working towards a future supply of SAF, direct to Manchester Airport via existing pipelines from a local refinery, we’re making sustainable operations accessible for airlines based here.

“The introduction of SAF is testament to the innovation we have seen, and the collaboration between airports, airlines, the Government and suppliers like Fulcrum to achieve real progress towards our goal of Net Zero for UK aviation by 2050.

“We are committed to ensuring that this progress continues through our role on the Government’s Jet Zero Council, on Sustainable Aviation and through our own targets in our CSR Strategy where we’re working to becoming net zero at our airports by 2038.”

Fulcrum NorthPoint will produce approximately 100 million litres of SAF per year – which, when blended 50/50 with traditional jet fuel, could fill the fuel tanks of approximately 1,200 Boeing 777-300s.

Jeff Ovens, Fulcrum Bioenergy UK managing director, said: “Support for SAF in the UK has reached new heights and the development of the Fulcrum NorthPoint SAF facility in Cheshire will bring significant volumes of much needed low carbon fuel for airlines, either those based here in the UK, or flying in from overseas.

“Our partnership with MAG as an airport operator will bridge airlines and fuel suppliers and make SAF accessible and more widespread within the sector. This collaboration will also support our ambition to cementing the North West as a centre for excellence for SAF in the UK, driving forward the Prime Minister’s 10 point plan for an industrial revolution.”

Cllr Louise Gittins, Cheshire West and Chester Council leader, said: “The agreement between Fulcrum and Manchester Airports Group has the potential to be a transformative step forward for sustainable aviation, for the Ellesmere Port industrial area and for the North West.

Cllr Louise Gittins

“Subject to a robust planning process and extensive engagement with communities, Fulcrum can support West Cheshire’s ambition to become a world leading location for clean growth, create high quality STEM jobs within the region and support the decarbonisation of a hard-to-reach sector.”

MAG has been an industry leader in driving the decarbonisation of aviation, becoming the first airport group in the UK to be certified as carbon neutral in 2016 and is one of only two airport operators to sit on the Government’s Jet Zero Council.

The group’s partnership with Fulcrum also follows the announcement last year of a competition to offer five years of free landing charges to the first zero emission flight from a MAG airport, valued at more than £1m, demonstrating its commitment to the decarbonisation of the wider aviation sector.

MAG will also use its new partnership with Fulcrum to explore opportunities to supply SAF to its other two airports at London Stansted and East Midlands.

Fulcrum BioEnergy UK is a subsidiary of Fulcrum Bioenergy Inc, which was founded in 2007, and is a leader in the development of waste to low carbon transportation fuels. It is currently commissioning the world’s first household waste to fuels facility – the Sierra BioFuels Plant – located in Nevada, US.