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Farmers flying high as demand for aviation fuel soars

Liv CasbenAAP
About half of Australia's canola crop is sent to the European Union for use as a biofuel. (HANDOUT/LOAM BIO)
Camera IconAbout half of Australia's canola crop is sent to the European Union for use as a biofuel. (HANDOUT/LOAM BIO) Credit: AAP

Demand for Australian agriproducts is set to soar as the need for sustainable aviation fuel increases ten fold, according to research from Rabobank.

Opportunities for farmers will be propelled by the airline’s need to cut emissions as they turn to more sustainable fuel, commonly produced from agricultural products and by-products.

The two-part Rabobank report found the global demand for sustainable aviation fuel will grow from 2.5 million tonnes in 2023 to 25 million tonnes by 2030.

“The global aviation industry has an emissions problem, so does the Australian aviation industry. Agriculture could play a big part in solving it,” the research found.

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The reports found demand for sustainable aviation fuel in Australia will rise as airlines become more aggressive in their decarbonisation efforts.

Australia is among the top 15 countries in the world in terms of aviation fuel consumption.

“The big driver of the airline industry is to reduce emissions, with a fuel that is as carbon-efficient as possible,” lead researcher and report author Stefan Vogel told AAP.

Vegetable oil and sugar cane are the most economically attractive feed stocks in Australia, in both cost per litre of fuel and cost per unit of emissions reduction, the research suggests.

“And these might become even more attractive as carbon capture and reduced-emission farming practices cut the emissions intensity of these feedstocks,” Mr Vogel said.

The findings were good news for canola farmers, Mr Vogel said, adding that demand for the crop would fall as more cars in the European Union were electrified.

About half of Australia’s canola crop is sent to the EU for use as a biofuel.

Australia’s sustainable aviation fuel industry is still in its infancy, with at least three projects across the country, including one in Townsville in north Queensland, where there are plans to turn sugar cane by products into jet fuel.

“Demand for sustainable aviation fuel in Australia will rise over time as airlines are expected to become more aggressive in their decarbonisation efforts and also government financial support, such as in the form of the latest budget, help fast-track investments,” Mr Vogel said.

The report says there needs to be strong commitment from the aviation industry to use the fuels, supported by legislation focused on carbon reduction, for the opportunities to be fully realised by farmers.

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