Emirates becomes first international airline to join UK’s low-carbon Solent Cluster
Emirates has become the first international airline to join the Solent Cluster, a UK initiative focused on low carbon investments established to reduce CO2 emissions from industry, transport and households in the south coast of England.
The Solent Cluster is a cross-sector collaboration of international organisations, including manufacturers and engineering companies, regional businesses and industries, leading logistics and infrastructure operators and academic institutions, the airline said on Tuesday.
Emirates joins more than 100 members as part of the cluster, alongside founding members the Solent Partners (previously the Solent LEP), global energy provider ExxonMobil and University of Southampton. The founding members have each shared details of their vision for the Solent and how it could secure existing jobs and produce low-carbon fuels for a variety of sectors, including aviation.
Sustainable aviation fuel potential
The Solent Cluster has the potential to create a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) plant with an estimated fuel production capacity of 200,000 tonnes (200 kt) per year. If approved, the plant could start operating in 2032. Jet fuel produced by the SAF plant could avoid emissions of 563 kilotons of CO2 per year by producing fuel with 70% less emissions than fossil kerosene. Existing pipeline networks can supply the SAF from the plant to major airports served by Emirates such as Heathrow and Gatwick, Emirates said in a statement.
Emirates’ long-term aspiration to secure UK-produced SAF with the Solent Cluster is in addition to several SAF initiatives the airline has announced over the last year. It follows Emirates’ A380 and Boeing 777 demonstration flights using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel in 2023. Emirates has expanded its partnership with Neste for the supply of SAF in 2024 and 2025 for its operations in Amsterdam and Singapore. The airline also uplifted SAF for the first time at its hub in Dubai for commercial flights in October 2023.
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “Emirates is proud to join like-minded organisations as part of The Solent Cluster Initiative. The Cluster has strong potential to power clean energy innovation and production and is another step forward in our journey towards long-term SAF adoption within our network. Alongside our fellow members, we look forward to contributing towards these efforts, while also seeing The Solent Cluster’s positive impact to the local economy, Southeast region, and wider industries.”
Dr. Lindsay-Marie Armstrong, associate professor of mechanical engineering and academic cluster lead for the Solent Industrial Decarbonisation Cluster at University of Southampton, said: “The Solent is recognised as one of the leading contributors of CO2 emissions from energy-intensive manufacturing processes every year. The formation of a decarbonisation cluster that spans the public, private and higher education sectors is a monumental step forward for the region.”
According to Dr. Armstrong, the cluster will help introduce sustainable fuels for local transportation, the aviation and the shipping sectors; create low carbon energy to heat homes, businesses and public buildings; and open up new highly skilled jobs opportunities. “This can only be achieved by working together as a community, covering all sectors and ultimately working with the same desire to achieve a low carbon economic future for the Solent region,” she said.
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