International Airlines Group boosts UK waste-to-fuel research

One of the world’s biggest aviation companies has announced financial support for Nova Pangaea Technologies’ first production facility.

International Airlines Group has subsidiaries including Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and LEVEL. In addition to $865million already invested in developing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the giant will now support construction of the new NOVAONE facility.

Located in Teesside, UK, the development will be Nova Pangaea Technologies’ first site capable of taking garden waste and wood residue and turning those materials into bioethanol, then SAF, at a commercial scale. The facility is due to come online in 2025, with construction starting this year. 

According to current UK legislation, by 2030 10% of jet fuel in the country will need to be from sustainable feedstocks. The equivalent to 1.2million tonnes of fuel, or 1.5billion litres, at current production levels of approved types the world would need five times today’s output to meet British demand. Several companies are now working to rapidly expand infrastructure as a result. 

‘This is a transformational milestone, and a real endorsement of the crucial work Nova Pangaea Technologies is doing. We are delighted to be adding IAG – one of the foremost names in the aviation industry – to our shareholder register,’ said Sarah Ellerby, Chief Executive at Nova Pangaea Technologies. 

‘Our facility will be the UK’s first commercial plant of its kind, and it will play a crucial role in decarbonising the aviation sector, as well as providing local employment opportunities. We are confident of beginning construction later this year and producing second-generation biofuels by 2025,’ she continued. 

While legislation is dictating investment in SAFs, their research and development, many of these fuels remain controversial. Sustainable aviation was the subject of an Environmental Journal investigation earlier this year, which asked if the concept was ever achievable. More recently, we spoke to a sustainable travel and tourism expert advocating a reduction in air travel, rather than reliance on new fuels.

Nevertheless, this looks unlikely to happen anytime soon. Management consultancy Bain & Company began publishing forecasts for aviation demand after the pandemic took hold across Europe and the US in May 2020. The most recent, Quarter Two 2023, shows that by 2030, North American-Europe travel could see 17% higher demand than in 2030,and routes within Asia could leap by 61%. 

IAG’s own announcement in May of a rise in profit forecast also shows aviation’s near collapse and questions over travel choices after restrictions are now things of the past. As such, the question of how to support growth in the sector while simultaneously cutting emissions remains. 

More on sustainable travel:

Business travel must improve sustainability record

London-Edinburgh rail success proves grounding flights is possible

Can aviation ever be truly sustainable?

Image: Nova Pangaea Technologies


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