Australia-NZ biofuels industry could take off, states report

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Establishing an economically and environmentally beneficial, ‘bio-derived’ Australian and New Zealand aviation fuels industry is a viable proposition, according to a report.

Compiled by CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and aviation partners, the Flight Path to Sustainable Aviation report predicts that, over the next 20 years, a new and sustainable Australia-New Zealand aviation fuels industry could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent, generate more than 12,000 jobs and reduce Australia’s reliance on aviation fuel imports by $2bn (£1.2bn) per annum.

‘This study highlights promising options for the aviation industry,’ said project lead Paul Graham, CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship’s economist. ‘It also identifies the market, infrastructure and governance changes that will be required for success.

‘Through the uptake of sustainable bio-derived jet fuel, together with next-generation aircraft and engines, the industry can reduce both its emissions and its reliance on imported fossil fuel.’

According to CSIRO, the study was commissioned by and developed in collaboration with the members of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group — including Air New Zealand, Boeing, Qantas and Virgin Australia — together with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and The Climate Group.

It found that production of commercially viable quantities of aviation fuels derived from non-food biomass sources, such as crop stubble, forestry residues, municipal waste and algae, is a feasible option for Australia and New Zealand. It also found that there are currently sufficient biomass stocks to support a local jet-fuel industry.

The report identifies several major actions that are required by 2015 to ensure the industry can be established.

These include the creation of a supportive market structure and supply chain, the development of refining plants and certification, as well as independent verification, to ensure sustainability of the fuel.