• Australia is making large steps in developing a home-grown sustainable aviation fuel industry. (Boeing / Meaghan Skinner)
    Australia is making large steps in developing a home-grown sustainable aviation fuel industry. (Boeing / Meaghan Skinner)

The Australian Jet Zero Council met for the first time last Tuesday in Brisbane, resulting in unanimous support for a home-grown sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry.

An initiative of Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King, the council was convened to discuss ways of reducing carbon emissions in the aviation industry and develop a local SAF industry.

Although focused heavily on SAF as an alternative to Jet-A1, the Australian Jet Zero Council has also been tasked with examining alternative energy sources for avgas-powered aircraft.

Terri Butler, chair of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Alliance Australia and New Zealand (SAFAANZ) there was an "atmosphere of urgency" among council members, who shared a common goal in ensuring Australia seized the opportunity presented by increasing demand for SAF.

“The SAFAANZ called for the formation of an Australian Jet Zero Council and it is heartening to see that effort come to fruition in bringing together these dedicated advocates, industry professionals and policy makers,” Butler said.

“I thank the Albanese government for establishing the Council.

“Having attended the inaugural meeting, I am confident that we are on the right pathway towards establishing a thriving SAF sector and de-carbonising aviation."

The first meeting came less than a week after the CSIRO and Boeing–both members of the Jet Zero Council–published their SAF roadmap for Australia, a document that lays out the path to manufacturing SAF locally.

"We know that aviation is absolutely critical to our way of life," said Minister King at the roadmap launch last Thursday. "It connects us to our families, it connects us to workplaces, it connects our goods to international markets, and it connects us to the world.

"But we also know that aviation is one of the hard to abate sectors and it's a challenging sector to abate. And as we head to our net zero emission target, aviation is very keen to play its role into contributing to getting to net zero.

"That's why the work that CSIRO has done in this Sustainable Aviation Fuel Roadmap is so important. We know that aviation currently represents around 2.5% of global emissions, and getting that down is going to be incredibly important."

CSIRO Futures Managing Director James Deverell said the roadmap outlines how the industry would develop in Australia.

"Initially, that SAF production would be through pathways that we call biogenic pathways, that uses things like use cooking oil, tallow and other wastes, or things like seed oils or carbohydrates like sugar cane to produce SAF," he explained.

"Those pathways are already in use at commercial scale around the world. In the longer term, we have the potential to produce SAF from green hydrogen and from CO2 that we can pull directly from the air, and that could help reduce emissions even further.

"If we can scale up SAF production here in Australia, not only would it help us reduce emissions, it also could help our strategic fuel security here in Australia and could help create opportunities and jobs for regions."

In 2021, Bioenergy Australia estimated that a local SAF industry could generate 8000 jobs and add $3 billion to Australia's gross domestic product (GDP). 

The roadmap can be downloaded from the CSIRO website.

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