3 min read

UK's Low Carbon Mandates Now Include Recycled Carbon Fuels

UK's Low Carbon Mandates Now Include Recycled Carbon Fuels

Regulations around the globe are evolving, and the UK is no exception. Following a series of consultations in 2022, the UK government has been forward-thinking in engineering a sustainable future.

Case-in-point: the introduction of recycled carbon fuel to the country’s low carbon mandates.

Recycled carbon fuels, or RCF, are made from waste derivatives of fossil fuels. Remnants of fuel usage materials are normally considered waste products. As a result, they typically would have ended up in landfills or incineration sites.

The feed directly reduces waste from non-recyclable plastics, refuse-derived waste, and industrial waste gases. The technology to adapt these former waste products marks a big win in low-carbon fuels.

However, because these fuels originate from fossil sources, they can only be identified as low-carbon and not renewable. Nevertheless, the UK government has recognized RCF's potential as a biofuels alternative in cutting down emissions, especially in the transport sector, which contributes significantly to the UK's total emissions.

The UK’s Move to Expand Overall Low Carbon Fuel Market

The UK's intentions with this policy are clear. It supports the development of the fuel market and the soon-to-launch UK sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) market.

The country’s fuel market is currently undersupplied, and the government believes RCF has the potential to address this gap. Given this challenge, RCF will fall under the development fuel mandate.

The government has also decided that all RCFs will receive equal consideration as a low-carbon fuel no matter which feedstock it derives from. This is good news for producers that often produce the fuel using multiple source materials.

RCF Could Help Meet Growing Demand in Aviation

Looking toward the sky, RCF is also expected to help meet aviation mandates. Given the increasing demand, this fuel source will likely become necessary by 2030.

Blossoming demand for SAF means airline firms will seek it out from whichever sources are available. But RCF yields multiple types of low-carbon fuels—not just SAF.

The other fuels would need to be adopted for additional uses because of the cost of RCF production and the many types of fuels it yields. Otherwise, the SAF component would need to be sold at a high premium to help subsidize the high cost of production.

Read More: Tracking SAF Prices: Why Quality Data Matters

Fortunately, support for road fuel cuts is already providing a home for these additional RCF derivatives. This means that RCF can remain competitive with other biofuel types in the SAF market from a pricing standpoint.

RCF Benefits in Several Biofuel Technologies

Integrating RCF into low-carbon mandates provides several potential benefits in emerging fuel types and processes:

  • Pyrolysis
  • Gasification
  • Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ)

Several companies have already been exploring converting plastic waste into oil using pyrolysis. Once refined, the oil can be used as diesel to generate development renewable transport fuel certificates (dRTFCs).

The strategy also offers several benefits for gasification producers. These companies can harness municipal solid waste to manufacture drop-in fuels that will now be rewarded for the non-biogenic portion of their feedstock.

Meanwhile, sustainable fuel technology companies plan to convert industrial waste gases into methanol. This approach could greatly benefit from the inclusion of RCF in UK-based mandates.

Another interesting aspect to watch out for is the evolving competition for feedstocks. As the grid continues to decarbonize, using feedstocks to mitigate higher carbon alternatives seems more viable. RCF can help by expanding the range of available options.

As demand for bio-alternatives surges upward, the landscape for the resources to produce biofuels comes down to one adage: the more the merrier.

Evolving Policies to Accommodate the Changing Biofuel Market

The addition of RCF in the UK's mandate could mark big changes in the biofuel industry—but only if the calculations for greenhouse gas emissions are spot-on. The days of so-called “creative” corporate greenwashing that obscures these numbers must become a thing of the past. Without accuracy and honesty, technology like this simply cannot move forward productively.

The UK government's bold step toward RCF is a testament to its commitment to a cleaner, greener future. ResourceWise will continue to track these and other emerging developments in the fast-moving bio-energy sector.

Decarbonize Your Business with ResourceWise’s Carbon Mitigator Report

Carbon Mitigator report showing sustainable aviation fuel prices, available in Prima CarbonZero from ResourceWise.

Interested in learning more about RCF details? An expanded version of this story is exclusively available in the Carbon Mitigator report from Prima CarbonZero™, ResourceWise’s online biofuels and feedstocks analytics and price platform.

Beyond industry-specific news and insights, the platform provides exceptional data and price tracking across an expansive range of low-carbon fuels.

For instance, the Carbon Mitigator report now offers modeled data on five different types of SAF:

  • E-Methanol ATJ (alcohol to jet fuel)
  • Crop Ethanol ATJ
  • Waste Ethanol ATJ
  • eSAF

ResourceWise’s pricing methodology follows a meticulous set of hierarchical rules for its assessments under the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) scope. This ensures a transparent and easily trackable process, supported by our analysts' expertise, which gives you dependable, market-accurate SAF pricing.

Our team is committed to a rigorous process to ensure the quality and precision of our data in capturing real market variations in SAF and other renewable fuels and feedstocks.

Are you in the process of decarbonizing or preparing for a carbon transition? ResourceWise can help.

Use the link below to learn more about the Carbon Mitigator report and schedule a demo with an expert to see how our data will benefit your business.