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Emirates joins The Solent Cluster

by Madaline Dunn

Emirates has announced that it has become the first international airline to join UK initiative, The Solent Cluster.

The Solent Cluster is a cross-sector collaboration of international organisations, including manufacturers and engineering companies, regional businesses and industries, logistics and infrastructure operators and academic institutions, focused on low-carbon investments.

With over 100 members, the Cluster’s founding members include the Solent Partners (previously the Solent LEP), global energy provider ExxonMobil and the University of Southampton.

The Solent Cluster shared that it 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 – and, if approved, 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.

Further, existing pipeline networks can supply the SAF from the plant to major airports served by Emirates, including Heathrow and Gatwick.

Speaking about the initiative, Sir Tim Clark, President of 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 the 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. It will 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.”

Adding: “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.”

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