THE Australian Sustainable Aviation Fuel Partnership has been signed by Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce and Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury in Doha yesterday ahead of the International Air Transport Association annual general meeting.
The landmark agreement will see the Qantas Group and Airbus invest up to US$200 million to accelerate the establishment of a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry in Australia.
Australian Oilseeds Federation executive officer Nick Goddard said the partnership was likely to provide ongoing support for the Australian oilseeds industry, with brassica crops such as canola, mustard and carinata all able to be processed into high-quality aviation fuel.
“While demand for biodiesel is likely to soften into next decade as electric vehicles replace internal combustion engines, the opportunity for Australia to supply the sustainable aviation fuel industry will provide a solid base for ongoing oilseed production in Australia,” Mr Goddard said.
The existing ISCC Sustainability Certification program, already certifying many Australian canola farms, has a module specifically tailored to aviation fuels.
“The AOF, through its Sustainable Grain Australia program, is already reviewing the specifics of the requirements for sustainable aviation fuel.”
Due to the lack of a local commercial-scale SAF industry, Australia is currently exporting millions of tonnes every year of feedstock, such as canola seed and animal tallow, to be made into SAF in other countries.
“This investment will help kickstart a local biofuels industry in Australia and hopefully encourage additional investment from governments and other business and build more momentum for the industry as a whole,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
Qantas has committed to using 10 per cent SAF in its overall fuel mix by 2030, and is currently sourcing SAF overseas.
This includes 15pc of its current fuel use out of London, and a projected 20 million litres each year for flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Australia from 2025.
Sustainable fuels cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 80pc compared to traditional kerosene and are the most significant tool airlines currently have to reduce their impact on the environment, particularly given they can be used in today’s engines with no modifications.
Value-add for Australia
The Qantas and Airbus partnership will invest in locally developed and produced SAF and feedstock initiatives.
Projects will have to be commercially viable and meet a strict set of criteria around environmental sustainability.
The partnership is initially for five years with options to extend the duration.
Qantas’ financial contribution to the Australian SAF Partnership includes AU$50 million previously committed to research and development of SAF in Australia.
Qantas has started a process of talking to its major corporate customers about their interest in accessing SAF offsets for their organisation’s flying.
This input is shaping the design of a program that could also be extended to individuals in an expansion of the existing offsetting program Qantas already has in place.
This new program is expected to launch later this calendar year.
Source: AOF, Qantas, Airbus