A SAUDI company has confirmed a £1billion investment on Teesside to produce sustainable aviation fuel.

The alfanar group says its Lighthouse Green Fuels Project, which The Echo understands  will be based at the former Air Products site at Port Clarence, will be the first company in the UK to produce sustainable aviation fuel from waste on a large scale.

The Northern Echo:

The project is expected to create more than 700 jobs during construction starting next year and around 240 full-time jobs once it is fully operational. Aviation fuel generated by the plant has the potential to produce 80 per cent less greenhouse gas than its fossil fuel equivalent.

Read more: BP plans Teesside jobs boost at powerplant and hydrogen projects

The funding announcement follows a commitment last year by Saudi firm SABIC to invest up to an additional £850 million to reopen their hydrocarbons ‘cracker’ at Wilton and decarbonise their operations in the North East.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen welcomed the 'absolutely fantastic' news, saying:  “I’ve been working closely with alfanar for a long time now and this news further cements our region as the global go-to place to develop ground-breaking green energy technology – delivering the cleaner, safer and healthier jobs of the future.

“Alfanar’s commitment to the region and its workers is fantastic to see, with hundreds of high-quality, well-paid jobs set to come for people right across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool as it plays its part in helping us become a clean energy powerhouse.

The Northern Echo:

“It also ties into our ambitions to make Teesside Airport the UK’s first hydrogen-ready airport, and an early adopter of these sustainable aviation fuels. Hydrogen-powered vehicles and a refuelling station are on the ground now and projects right across our area from the likes of bp, Kellas Midstream and Northern Gas Networks are showing how we’re capitalising on the UK’s low carbon ambitions.

“Critically, at a point where we need to be thinking outside of the box to cut down on tradition jet fuel emissions to keep our aviation sector soaring, this investment and innovative project will help us become a pioneer in the aviation fuels of the future.”

The announcement was made as Boris Johnson declared Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “key international partners” in efforts to reduce dependence on Russian energy after the invasion of Ukraine.

On the eve of a controversial visit to the Gulf states on Wednesday, the Prime Minister argued it is necessary to strengthen ties with the nations to tackle Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Johnson will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh days after the largest mass execution in the kingdom in modern history.

He will visit the UAE’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi earlier in the day, as both rulers’ records on human rights come under renewed scrutiny.

Battling the cost-of-living crisis being compounded by the West weaning itself off Russia’s oil and gas, the Prime Minister is seeking to boost Gulf oil production to alleviate soaring prices.

But critics have questioned the choice to particularly strengthen ties with Mohammed bin Salman, with the Saudi leader having been implicated in the assassination of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

During his visit, Mr Johnson is expected to visit SABIC’s innovation centre in Riyadh and meet representatives from the alfanar group.

The announcement follows a commitment last year by Saudi firm SABIC to invest up to an additional £850m to reopen their hydrocarbons ‘cracker’ at Wilton and decarbonise their operations in the region.

Through the Sovereign Investment Partnership, since 2021 the UAE has already invested in excess of £3bn across life sciences, technology, infrastructure in the UK – as well as a multi-billion pound investment from BP and ADNOC in clean hydrogen hubs.

The Northern Echo: Alfanar's industrial city just outside RiyadhAlfanar's industrial city just outside Riyadh

At the end of last year, The Echo reported alfanar had been awarded £2,417,500 to take forward its Lighthouse project as a winner of the Government’s Green Fuels, Green Skies competition to develop SAF and has now backed this up with a huge investment of its own.

The group has built up an international presence throughout much of the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe and is mainly involved in manufacturing electrical construction products, solutions for conventional and renewable power plants, engineering services and design engineering.

It is one of the world's largest electrical product manufacturers and distributors with a network covering 300 locations and includes a huge number of locally and internationally managed manufacturers and distributors.

The Northern Echo: The alfanar brandThe alfanar brand

The £1bn investment is one of two SAF projects on Teesside, with Nova Pangaea Technologies, based at Redcar’s Wilton International also winning the Government competition to revolutionise air travel by leading on the development of clean, sustainable aviation fuel.


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