UK Government backs study into feasibility of Solent Cluster SAF plant

The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded £6 million in funding to Esso Petroleum Company, Limited to assess the feasibility of a project at Fawley to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

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Biofuels and biofuel blends, like sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), are expected to play an important role in helping achieve the transition to a net-zero future.

The funding, from the DfT’s Advanced Fuels Fund (AFF), will be used to explore technical solutions associated with the production of methanol from refuse derived fuel, or imports of ethanol or methanol, its conversion to SAF using ExxonMobil’s proprietary Methanol to Jet (MtJ) technology and the distribution of the SAF finished product to customers.

The SAF plant would be part of the Solent Cluster, which brings together 100 private, public, and non-governmental organisations to reduce emissions in the Solent region and beyond.

If the assessment proves successful, and the project is given the go ahead, Fawley could produce commercial quantities of SAF using our proprietary Methanol to Jet process. In fact, we estimate that Fawley could produce up to 20 percent of the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) expected to be needed by the UK by 2030.

Fawley is already one of the UK’s leading suppliers of aviation fuel, delivering around 25 percent of the total used at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick Airports via Esso’s proprietary pipelines.

The Advanced Fuels Fund was launched by the DfT in 2022 to competitively allocate grant funding to support UK advanced fuels projects. The award enables us to bring forward our assessment to help the UK achieve its SAF ambition.

“ExxonMobil has been a trusted partner to the aviation industry for over 100 years. This award will support efforts to develop the next generation of energy solutions for the aviation sector that have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle-basis,” said Michael Foley, ExxonMobil UK Low Carbon Solutions business lead.

“Leveraging our manufacturing expertise at the Fawley Petrochemical complex, expertise in R&D and working alongside other members of the Solent Cluster, this project has the potential to contribute to the UK’s ambition to become a leader in net zero emission flights. It’s another example of the many ways that the Solent Cluster could help reduce emissions across the region and beyond.”

Image Department for Transport funding is helping our assessment of the potential for a SAF plant at Fawley that would form part of the Solent Cluster project and that could supply 20 percent of the UKs SAF needs by 2030.
Department for Transport funding is helping our assessment of the potential for a SAF plant at Fawley that would form part of the Solent Cluster project and that could supply 20 percent of the UK’s SAF needs by 2030.