What could be Australia’s first foray into an environmentally cleaner aviation fuel source could be up and running by 2026.

The project is a partnership between Jet Zero Australia and Lanza Jet, with funding from Qantas Group, Airbus and the Queensland government.

Jet Zero Australia managing director Ed Mason said as far as he was aware, his team was the first alcohol to jet project in Australia producing sustainable aviation fuel.

Mr Mason said ethanol in Australia was produced from several sources.

“One is agricultural by-products, such as starch from wheat, as well as molasses from sugarcane,” he said.

Sugarcane will be front of mind when it comes to building the facility, with Mr Mason confirming north Queensland had been selected as the location.

A paddock with a sugar cane crop in the foreground and a mountain in the background
The scale of north Queensland’s sugar industry was a contributing factor to the decision.()

“We’re fairly excited about the opportunity for north Queensland and that’s where we’re basing the plant,” he said.

He said the sugar industry had great infrastructure around port access and rail.

“We have to get people to supply us with ethanol, and to grow the industry we have to demonstrate that this is a feasible business, that there is demand for the products,” he said.

“So it’s important for us to do that by basing the plant up there, where we can show the longevity of this industry.”

Creating new jobs

Greater Whitsunday Alliance chief executive Kylie Porter said she hoped the blossoming industry would open up opportunities for regions such as Mackay, which were known for sugar production.

A woman smiles at the camera. She has her arms folded
Kylie Porter is excited about the development of a sustainable aviation fuel industry.()

“I think that this announcement is a real testament to the legacy of the sugar industry,” she said.

“Most people probably would be really shocked to know that Mackay has been producing ethanol in this region for well over 95 years.

“This announcement means that finally all of this great work that we’ve been doing across this region and across the sugar industry, is really starting to be recognised as being high value to how the world decarbonises.”

Ms Porter said it could play a major role in boosting regional economies and creating new jobs.

“It also means that we’re able to really start to offer different jobs,” she said.

“For some people, they may not want a career in mining or traditional sugar processing, but they want to be a part of a sustainable aviation industry.”

Long time coming

Canegrowers chief executive Dan Galligan said the industry welcomed news that ethanol could be the cornerstone of a sustainable aviation

“For a long time, the industry has advocated for an expansion of the ethanol industry just in terms of an alternative, low emission fuel source for motor vehicles,” he said.

“Growing an ethanol industry and [turning] ethanol into sustainable aviation fuel, that’s actually the ideal scenario.”

He said he was excited to see financial backing from the commercial aviation industry and hoped support would help the industry take off in the next few years.

“What you’re seeing by the major airlines and manufacturing and fuel companies is they can see the need for this product coming online,” he said.

“So the urgency is there in the market, the market exists, the technology exists, and they need to invest themselves.”

Extracted in full from: Sustainable aviation fuel made from alcohol to be produced in north Queensland – ABC News