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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, is conducting 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.

The analysis will be used to develop a Roadmap that encourages the cost-effective production of SAF with feedstocks that are appropriate considering the regional context and to inform policy and government investment decisions.

Key stakeholders in government, defence, industry and relevant NGOs across the APAC region will be consulted to understand additional challenges and test modelling findings.

The Roadmap will aim to influence and build consensus on how to approach Australian SAF industry development within the wider APAC context. 

The results

Sustainable aviation fuel roadmap

A new report by CSIRO Futures detailing the findings and recommendations from this analysis will be made available in the second quarter of 2023.

Identifying requirements for the development of sustainable aviation fuel is one of the focus areas of our Towards Net Zero Mission.

Receive a copy of the report

A new report by CSIRO Futures available in the second quarter of 2023.

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