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Government pours $30m into domestic sustainable aviation fuel

written by Jake Nelson | June 21, 2023

An Air BP sustainable aviation fuel vehicle. (Image: BP)

The federal government is investing $30 million into developing a local sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry as it establishes Australia’s first Jet Zero Council.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will issue grants across the supply chain to support domestic production of SAF from agricultural feedstocks, with applications to open from mid-July.

The move comes two years after an ARENA roadmap found that a local bioenergy industry could be worth around $10 billion in GDP, and support 26,000 jobs, by 2030.

“The world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity, and this is true for the aviation industry which is looking to reduce emissions – a homegrown sustainable aviation fuels industry could create more than 7,400 jobs by 2030, most of them in regional areas,” said Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen.

“Australia’s strong agricultural sector means we could be a global leader by scaling up domestic production of renewable fuel for exports, which could help reduce global aviation emissions significantly.


“This investment means the beginning of airlines being able to source their fuel from a variety of sources and decrease our dependence on importing fuels from overseas.”

The government has also established the Australian Jet Zero Council, to be chaired by Catherine King, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure.

The Council, comprising a range of stakeholders from the aviation industry and its fuel supply chain, will work with the sector to identify opportunities for decarbonisation and collaboration on achieving emissions reduction targets, including through SAF.

“We know that industry leadership will be a fundamental driver of the aviation sector’s transition to net zero,” said Ms King.

“That’s why members will come from a range of aviation-related organisations spanning airlines, airports, fuels, manufacturing, research, finance, regional aviation and defence.

“This includes representatives from Australia’s major airlines, fuel refiners, manufacturers, regional aviation, airports, Defence, as well as government science and fundraising agencies.”

In April, Qantas – which has partnered with Airbus on developing a SAF industry in Queensland – called for a mandate on SAF blending to cut emissions, with chief sustainability officer Andrew Parker saying that without the right policy settings, SAF opportunities will be lost to overseas development.

“Governments around Australia are making important progress on working with industry to help decarbonise, and we welcome that,” he said.

“Creating markets for new fuels is a critical part of tackling climate change, which is why we’re today calling for a SAF mandate to be introduced to catalyse the development of the industry.”

Parker noted that several of Qantas’s destination countries already have SAF blending mandates of five to 10 per cent by 2030, and that Australia is well-placed to create a domestic SAF industry.

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