Australian efforts to make air travel greener have received a major lift with the establishment of a Jet Zero Council and $30 million in grants to support an eco-friendly fuel industry.
Airlines, airports, manufacturers, fuel suppliers and government agencies will team up to establish Australia as a global leader in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The changes announced on Wednesday came as Australian start-up Dovetail, backed by regional airline Rex, also revealed plans to use hydrogen fuel-cell technology in its latest efforts to create zero-emission planes.
Federal Transport Minister Catherine King announced the launch of the Jet Zero Council and its membership following an industry talks in February.
“We are formalising the membership of council so that we can begin that work of not only building a SAF industry here in Australia but also… look at reducing emissions,” she said.
“We know Australians love to fly, aviation has come roaring back. But we have our part to play very much in getting to net zero and getting that important target which is now legislated.”
The council – which will include representatives from Qantas, Virgin, Boeing, Airbus, BP and airport corporations – is expected to support cuts to aviation emissions and provide advice to government agencies on creating a sustainable aviation fuel industry.
Worldwide, aviation firms have committed to achieving net-zero emission by 2050 with 65 per cent of emission cuts expected to come from the use of sustainable fuel.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency also announced it would invest $30 million in local businesses producing aviation biofuel, to be made from forestry and agricultural waste as well as used cooking oil.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen said a local SAF industry could create thousands of jobs while reducing Australian airlines’ dependence on imported fuels.
“The world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity… a homegrown sustainable aviation fuels industry could create more than 7400 jobs by 2030, most of them in regional areas,” he said.
“Australia’s strong agricultural sector means we could be a global leader by scaling up domestic production of renewable fuel for exports.”
Bioenergy Australia chief executive Shahana McKenzie welcomed the changes on Wednesday, saying they could help to reduce hurdles for producers and accelerate investments in the industry.
“Australia has the opportunity to play a leading role in the deployment of sustainable aviation fuels for the region,” she said.
The announcements also came as local start-up Dovetail Electric Aviation announced it had signed a deal with Hyundai to use the company’s hydrogen fuel-cell system in a future zero-emissions plane.
Dovetail chief executive David Doral said the use of hydrogen technology could create “innovative solutions for a sustainable future in aviation”.
The company is expected to test the technology in flights next year.