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Jet zero

6 August, 2021

Airlines are hardly the poster children for sustainability and their talk about sustainable fuel has so far borne little fruit. Could a new competition from the UK Government change that? 

The Government has announced a competition to encourage the development of pioneering companies that convert waste materials from households, industry and even sewage into jet fuel at commercial scale. Being able to avoid burning fossil fuels means that these technologies can reduce emissions by 70%: a big step on the path towards net zero. The Government sees sustainable aviation fuels as a big opportunity that could create 11,000 jobs by 2040 and it has invested £20 million over the last year to decarbonise the aviation sector. 

The inherent challenge for air travel and freight remains: that it is more energy intensive than land or sea travel, mile for mile, regardless of the source of the energy. So the message remains the same – if you can go by train, or boat, rather than plane, you should, regardless of how your plane is powered.  

But for a number of different types of sustainable fuel – jet fuel and otherwise – waste-to-energy could be the next big thing. So don’t dismiss the contents of your bin. It could well be destined for great things and may well be powering you around in the not-too-distant future. 

By Patrick Bapty

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