Eight firms have been identified by the government to develop production plants that will turn waste into jet fuel.
The companies have been shortlisted to receive a share of £15 million to pioneer new technologies.
Possibilities include converting materials such as household waste, alcohol, carbon from the atmosphere and sewage into jet fuel, offering emissions savings of more than 70% compared to the use of conventional fossil aircraft fuel.
The competition aims to help position the UK at the forefront of the emerging global sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry by producing millions of litres a year.
Shortlisted proposals include plants aiming to produce jet fuel from:
- carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere with hydrogen from water
- alcohol derived from wastes, including flue gases from industry
- everyday household and commercial black bag rubbish
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Aviation will be central to our future growth and plans to build back greener from the pandemic, which is why we have invested over £20 million in the past year to decarbonise the sector in line with our world-leading net zero targets.
“With 100 days to go until COP26, we’re ramping up our efforts even further to help companies break ground on trailblazing waste to jet fuel plants and put the UK at the forefront of international SAF production.”
SAF production in the UK could generate up to £1.66 billion a year and create 11,000 green jobs by 2040.
The £15 million funding is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs in plants built in Cheshire, Lincolnshire, Tees Valley and South Wales among other locations, according to the Department for Transport.
A jet zero consultation unveiled last week commits the aviation sector to a net zero emissions target by 2050 and a domestic target of net zero emissions by 2040.
Aviation is responsible for 2.5% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The latest announcement comes as the government aims to lead the world in SAF uptake, with proposals for up to 10% SAF by 2030 and up to 75% by 2050 – generating potential savings of up to 23 megatons of CO2 per year in 2050, equivalent to 500,000 return flights to Tenerife.