Dubai-based carrier Emirates has become the first international airline to join The Solent Cluster.

The Solent Cluster is a UK initiative focused on low carbon investments established to reduce CO2 emissions from industry, transport and households in the south coast of England.

Emirates’ long-term aspiration is to secure UK-produced Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) with The Solent Cluster. The Solent Cluster has the potential to create a SAF plant with an estimated fuel production capacity of 200,000 tonnes 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 per cent 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.

The airline has already successfully conducted Emirates A380 and Boeing 777 demonstration flights using 100 per cent SAF in 2023.

Emirates has also expanded its partnership with Neste for the supply of SAF in 2024 and 2025 for its operations in Amsterdam and Singapore.

Furthermore, the airline has 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.”

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.

Emirates joins over 100 members as part of the Cluster, alongside founding members the Solent Partners (previously the Solent LEP), ExxonMobil and University of Southampton.

Dr. Lindsay-Marie Armstrong, associate professor of mechanical engineering and academic cluster lead for the Solent Industrial Decarbonisation Cluster at University of Southampton, added, “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.”

Last year, Emirates committed US$200 million to fund research and development projects focussed on reducing the impact of fossil fuels in commercial aviation.