An Australian aviation biofuel industry is technically viable but significant obstacles remain, according to a report released by Qantas and Shell.
The study, conducted with the support of the Australian Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is the most comprehensive investigation so far into the economic viability of producing biofuel on a commercial scale in Australia.
Identifying natural oils as a proven source material, the study modelled a plant capable of producing 1.1 billion litres of renewable fuels, including jet fuel and diesel, per year using existing supply chain infrastructure.
The report found that such a plant could be viable if three key priorities – competitively priced natural oil feedstocks, new infrastructure requirements, and extended biofuel production grants – are addressed.
Qantas’ Head of Environment, John Valastro, said the report gave a clear picture of the actions required to make regular biofuel flights a reality in Australian skies.
“Aviation biofuel is the only technology capable of delivering the generational change required for the aviation industry to meet its ambitious target of a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050,” Mr Valastro said.
“It’s well-established that certified biofuel can be used safely in commercial flights. Qantas’ focus now is on making it a viable alternative to conventional jet fuel. It won’t be easy, but we are armed with a stronger and more detailed understanding than ever before of all aspects of the biofuel supply chain.
“The next step for Qantas is to work closely with our partners to find ways of increasing the supply and reducing the cost of aviation biofuel feedstocks in Australia – one of the major obstacles that need to be addressed.
“At the same time, we will be talking to governments about the importance of a supportive policy environment for biofuel production, given its potential to create jobs and open up new opportunities in the agriculture sector and regional Australia.”