The UK is set to get four new biofuel production plants as part of the government’s drive towards net zero emissions.

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), the “world-leading” plants will be built with the aid of government funding, which comes in part from the £20 million Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition. It is hoped that the new facilities will lead to “greener flights and road freight” by reducing the amount of conventional fuel burned.

KEW Projects and Rika Biogas have been awarded a share of £6.5 million to build facilities that aim to provide biofuel for heavy goods vehicles, although the project at KEW will also begin research that could make low-carbon aviation fuel a reality. At the same time, two other projects are being funded under the £25 million Advanced Biofuels Demonstration Competition (ABDC), including Nova Pangaea Technologies, which will use wood waste to create bio-ethanol that can be blended with existing petrol. 

Woman refuelling at petrol station

The department estimates that low carbon fuels are expected to save nearly 85 million tonnes of CO2 between 2018 and 2032 - roughly equivalent to taking around 18 million cars off the road. This reduction also equates to around a third of transport’s projected contribution to UK carbon savings during the 2020s.

And the DfT claims the UK advanced fuels industry is expected to be worth over £400 million over the next decade. The sector is also expected to create 9,800 jobs.

“Whether you’re commuting to work or travelling on a family getaway, we want that journey to be as green and environmentally friendly as possible,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “This funding will help encourage innovative technology using today’s waste to power tomorrow’s green transport revolution, helping us reach a cleaner and greener future."

Biofuel and biodiesel production in laboratory

Meanwhile George Freeman, minister of state for Transport and MP for Mid-Norfolk, said the projects were part of the government’s plan to create a more environmentally friendly transport network.

“We made a legally binding commitment to reaching net zero [CO2 emissions],” he said. “Now we are delivering. The UK is reducing CO2 emissions faster than any other G20 nation. We are doing it by investing in research and development, supporting the uptake of low emission and electrical vehicles, new inner city clean air zones and the world’s first comprehensive transport decarbonisation plan.

“This global leadership is helping create a 21st century transport network that is better for our environment, our health and our economy: with the potential to deliver high-skilled jobs in the green economy to all corners of the nation.”

Biofuel oil research in laboratory