The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will invest $30 million to support development of a domestic sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry based on conversion of agricultural feedstocks.
Announcing the programme the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said that a homegrown SAF industry could help decarbonise the hard-to-abate aviation sector and create thousands of regional jobs.
Bowen said: “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.”
The global air transport industry is committed to net-zero by 2050, but low SAF production and high prices are standing in the way.
ARENA’s 2021 Bioenergy Roadmap found a local bioenergy industry could contribute around $10 billion in extra GDP by 2030, supporting more than 26,000 new jobs.
Grants for engineering studies or pilot programmes will be available through ARENA across the supply chain, from agricultural feedstock supply to final fuel production.
Bowen said: “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 Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King said Australia both had the need and resources to support a SAF industry.
King said: “With our population spread across an entire continent, aviation is often the only viable option for freight and passenger transport, and a domestic SAF industry can help transition the domestic industry.
“And with enormous volumes of tallow and canola oil currently shipped offshore due to attractive incentives offered by other governments, there is huge potential for Australia to become a sustainable fuels powerhouse.
“The outcomes of the ARENA-backed projects could have huge implications for regional Australia, and we will be closely following them as a government.”
ARENA will open applications for grants by mid-July.
Picture: Chris Bowen