Greener flights for the Australian aviation industry

Australia’s leading scientific body has released a report which indicates biofuels can provide more economical and greener fuel. A report released by CSIRO predicts that 40% of an airline’s fuel could be using the lower emission biofuel by 2050.

 

According to CSIRO the global airline industry emits 2% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions per year. Paul Graham, CSIRO’s manager of carbon futures said, “Even though that sounds small the aviation industry acknowledges that it does need to look at reducing its emissions.”

It will require a more focused approach that will look to replace regular jet fuels with so-called bio-derived fuels, made from biomass. This could help the Australian aviation industry cut emissions by 17% over the next 20 years, according to Graham. “What we found was that we do have substantial non-food biomass resources, resources that won’t interfere with food production,” he said.

CSIRO’s report has shown that the Australian aviation industry has the biomass and the technology to support a bio-derived jet fuel industry. And with the current level of oil prices means it is also economical.

Graham explains, “The question that we faced was the volatility of the oil market means you could set up a refining and fuel supply chain now, but if the fuel price drops in a couple of years you might be losing money. So what the industry needs to do, and this is what’s recommended in the report, is develop some long-term contracting arrangements to get the industry off the ground, so it can ride through the initial oil price volatility. As the cost of the various technologies for refining the biomass comes down, it will be able to withstand that sort of volatility in the future.”

Graham went on to say that the jet biofuel industry would have broader benefits. “If an industry like this goes ahead, it could actually be a job creation opportunity for Australia. There are potentially about 12,000 new jobs that could be created by 2030. It could save imports of the order of $2 billion of jet fuel, so there are significant benefits for Australia if we can start to substitute oil for biomass in this industry over the long term.”

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