Australian researchers upbeat on 'bio-derived' jet fuel industry
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 The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in collaboration with the region's major aviation industry players.
The report, Flight Path to Sustainable Aviation, predicts that over the next 20 years a new, sustainable, Australia-New Zealand aviation fuels industry could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent, generate more than 12,000 jobs and reduce Australia's reliance on aviation fuel imports by A$2 billion (USD2.07 billion) per annum.
"This study highlights promising options for the aviation industry," said the project's leader, CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship's economist Paul Graham. "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."
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 (eg: crop stubble, forestry residues, municipal waste and algae) is a feasible option for Australia and New Zealand. It also found there are currently sufficient biomass stocks to support a local jet fuel industry.
Sustainable bio-derived jet fuel complies with social, environmental and economic criteria, which includes not impacting on food security or the environment and results in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The report identifies several major actions that are required by 2015 to ensure the industry can be established. These include:
Creation of a supportive market structure and supply chain
Development of refining plants
Certification and independent verification to ensure sustainability of the fuel.
The participants will use the findings of the report as the basis for developing implementation plans and projects, details of which will be announced in the coming months. Some related projects are already in place.
Speaking at the launch of the study in Sydney last week, Qantas head of risk and resilience John Valastro said the road map demonstrated that sustainable aviation fuel must be part of the solution for achieving ambitious fuel efficiency and emission reduction targets set by the International Air Transport Association. IATA has a target of a 1.5 per cent annual reduction in greenhouse emissions until 2020, when it expects the industry to be carbon-neutral.
"Carbon pricing can be another part of the solution - we are broadly supportive of the government's policy framework in this respect," he said. "However, a carbon price must be complemented by government support for technologies with the potential to reduce emissions and sustainable aviation fuels are one of those. So the release of this report is timely.
"It provides a framework for how the industry in this part of the world can move towards commercial-scale sustainable aviation fuel production.
"It also identifies the huge potential in terms of resources, technology investments and jobs. But it also identifies the significant challenges that we face. The task now is to press forward with commercializing the most promising of those technologies."