Thursday, February 22, 2024

British Airways Parent IAG Invests In Biofuel As Europe to Lead SAF Market By 2030


British Airways’ parent company, International Airline Group, is investing in a cleantech firm working to support the development of sustainable aviation fuel.

International Airlines Group (IAG), the umbrella organization for airlines including British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, Vueling, and Level, has announced a strategic investment in Nova Pangaea Technologies (NPT) — a U.K.-based cleantech firm that specializes in transforming agricultural waste and wood residues into advanced biofuels, a critical step in the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

NPT’s pioneering technology transforms feedstocks into second-generation bioethanol, which can subsequently be converted into SAF. This investment by IAG will aid in the development of ‘NOVAONE’, the first commercial-scale production facility in the U.K. dedicated to converting waste into fuel.

This initiative supplements IAG’s significant investment in SAF, which, at the close of 2022, had reached $865 million in solid commitments to SAF purchases and investments. Given the growing urgency to secure SAF supplies globally, the establishment of the NOVAONE facility is a milestone for both companies and the broader aviation industry.

airplane in the clouds
Photo courtesy Colin Lloyd

“Sustainable Aviation Fuel is the only realistic option for long haul airlines to decarbonise, which is why investment in this area is so critical,” Luis Gallego, CEO of IAG, said in a statement.

“At IAG, we have set a goal to use ten percent SAF by 2030. And we are not just buying SAF, we are willing to invest in developing the industry, but we need governments in the UK and Europe to act now to encourage further investment,” Gallego said.

According to a recent analysis by the group cCarbon Europe will be the world leader in SAF production by 2030, manufacturing a third of all SAF. That same study projected the SAF global market value to expand to $29.7 billion, a substantial increase from the $1.1 billion recorded last year. This growth trend positions NPT favorably for its planned expansion across Europe, a region poised to play a vital role in delivering global SAF supplies.

Sarah Ellerby, CEO of Nova Pangaea Technologies, called the investment a “transformational milestone,” and says it is 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,” she said.

Virgin Atlantic plane
Courtesy Virgin Atlantic

“Our facility will be the U.K.’s first commercial plant of its kind, but we also see enormous potential in the European market,” Ellerby said. “We have set our sights in delivering a sustainable source of SAF to decarbonise the aviation sector, not just in the U.K., but globally too.”

IAG, one of the world’s largest airline groups, currently operates a fleet of 558 aircraft that serve 334 destinations in 81 countries. In a related development, British Airways announced ‘Project Speedbird’, a partnership with NPT and LanzaJet. This collaboration will process bioethanol feedstocks into SAF for British Airways, leveraging a dedicated SAF plant and LanzaJet’s patented technology.

The news comes on the heels of Virgin Atlantic’s recent announcement that it will be making the first transatlantic flight on 100 percent SAF later this year.

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