Sustainable aviation fuel opportunities for Australia

The challenge

Decarbonising the aviation industry

Aviation is one of the most challenging industries to decarbonise, contributing 2.5% of the world’s total carbon.

With a volatile global energy system under pressure, alternatives to energy production, supply and security need to be considered.

The aviation industry is committed to emissions reduction, but without the option of electrification or alternative fuels, such as green hydrogen, in the near term, particularly for long-haul segments, commercial airlines and defence forces will need to rely on the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) to reduce emissions.

These fuels are derived from a range of feedstocks such as biomass, waste products, natural oils and fats, other carbon sources and hydrogen.

Currently, there is an increase in global uptake of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), particularly across Europe, the UK and the USA. Despite a commitment to high SAF volume targets and aggressive adoption timelines, limited global production means demand will surpass supply.

Key questions remain around affordability and sustainability, as well as competition for feedstocks and economically efficient scales of production.

Australia could play a key role, both as a source of feedstocks and as a SAF producer, with Australia already producing significant quantities of feedstocks exported for biofuel production. The country is well-positioned to expand this into a diversified portfolio of feedstock sources.

In addition, Australia’s growing hydrogen economy could provide a clean supply of hydrogen which is needed by several pathways as either a feedstock on its own or in fuel production processes.

With numerous feedstocks and technologies to choose from, what are Australia's most suitable SAF production options to help develop sovereign SAF capability?

Our response

Analysing SAF options

To address this challenge, building on previous work, CSIRO, in collaboration with Boeing, have conducted an analysis that considers sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) feedstock availability and production potential in the APAC region, with a primary focus on Australia and New Zealand.

In consultation with over 40 organisations from across the value chain, nationally and internationally, including industry, government and academia, to identify the opportunities and risks, the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Roadmap builds consensus on developing an Australian sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry, identifying opportunities to produce and scale production using Australian feedstocks.

The results

Sustainable aviation fuel roadmap

The Sustainable Aviation Fuel Roadmap highlights that Australia in prime position to produce and scale SAF feedstocks, and contribute to a SAF industry in the Asia Pacific region.

As the country already produces significant quantities of feedstocks that are exported for biofuel production, it is well-positioned to expand into a diversified portfolio of sustainable feedstock sources.

This Roadmap is part of the critical work CSIRO is undertaking to support Australia’s hardest to abate sectors to halve their emissions by 2035, and forms part of our Towards Net Zero Mission.

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