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Queensland partners with Qantas to develop Sustainable Aviation Fuel industry

Agreement comes after World Travel and Tourism Council urged governments to “get serious” on SAF production.

Qantas is aiming for SAF to make up 10% of its fuel blend by 2030.

Qantas has joined forces with the Queensland Government in a commitment to develop the state’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) industry and scale up production to commercial levels.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the two parties yesterday which will see the development of a supply chain for the environmentally friendly propulsion source, with Qantas targeting 10% SAF usage by 2030 and 60% by 2050.

Key to the investment will be developing ways to convert sugarcane, tallow, feedstock and agricultural by-products into biofuels which can reliable power aircraft not just in Australia, but across the Asia-Pacific region.

Research shows an effective and efficient Australian SAF industry could pump $3 billion annually into the national economy by 2030 and could create more than 15,000 jobs – mostly in regional areas – by 2050.

Queensland's thriving sugarcane and feedstock industry can help with SAF production.

The Palaszczuk Government, Qantas and Airbus earlier this year committed support to Jet Zero Australia for a feasibility study into a new biorefinery in Queensland capable of producing as much as 100 million litres of SAF annually. A second biorefinery proposed for Gladstone could see a further 350 million litres of SAF and renewable diesel produced each year.

Prior to the pandemic, Qantas alone was using around 5.1 billion litres of fuel per year but is taking steps to increase the sustainable element of its fuel use.

From 2025, flights between Australia and the U.S. west coast will see around 20% of the fuel sustainably sourced, under a partnership with California based biofuels company, Aemetis.

“Sustainable fuels are the most significant tool airlines currently have to reduce their emissions, particularly given they can be used in today’s engines and fuel delivery infrastructure with no modifications,” said Qantas Group Chief Sustainability Officer, Andrew Parker.

The new agreement was well timed, with World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) President and CEO, Julia Simpson, calling on governments around the world to “get serious” on SAF production and to set targets on scaling up supply lines to commercial levels.

Hydrogen is another propulsion source that is rapidly being upscaled.

Simpson said that without clear commitments on SAF, governments won’t meet goals set under the historic Paris Climate Agreement, which in turn will affect economic growth.

“The demand for SAF has never been higher, airlines all over the world want to use SAF and have used every molecule ever made,” Simpson said.

“However, current SAF production only meets 0.1% to 0.15% of requirement, despite a 200% increase in production in 2022 vs 2021. This leaves a massive gap that can only be filled through rapid and sustained investment.

“At today’s prices, SAF is on average three to five times more expensive than traditional fossil fuels. Governments must address this cost disparity by providing financial support and incentives to make SAF more accessible and affordable. Without those targets and without those incentives, the sector cannot decarbonise.”

Airlines around the world are heavily investing in startup partners who are researching and testing reliable supply lines and sources for renewable, safe and efficient jet fuels including repurposing green waste and cooking oils as well as utilising hydrogen and electric power.

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Written by: Matt Lennon
Published: 24 May 2023

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