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From by-product to fly product: why Queensland’s biofuels industry is taking off

From by-product to fly product: why Queensland’s biofuels industry is taking off

Queensland’s reputation as a hub for biofuels is set to soar, after plans for a new sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) biorefinery in the Sunshine State were recently unveiled.

The Qantas Group, Airbus and the Queensland Government are teaming up to support a Queensland biofuel production facility being developed by Jet Zero Australia in partnership with leading alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) company LanzaJet.

The facility will turn agricultural by-products into jet fuel and when complete, produce up to 100 million litres of SAF per year to use in domestic and international flights, including by Qantas.

Construction of the Queensland facility could begin as early as 2024 and the facility has the potential to create 1,000 construction jobs and 100 operational jobs.

What is SAF and why it is important?

In aviation, a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is a type of biofuel used to replace or supplement traditional fossil jet fuel, reducing the carbon emissions and environmental impact of flights.

Biofuels are renewable liquid fuels made from sustainable resources. Everything from wood offcuts to sugarcane bagasse, used cooking oil or beef tallow and algae can be turned into biofuel.

Sustainable fuels are the most significant tool airlines have to reduce their associated emissions, particularly given they can be used in today’s engines and fuel delivery infrastructure with no modifications.

As global demand for cleaner fuels grows, low carbon jet fuel produced on home soil will be a key for airlines to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. It can be used in existing aircraft engines and airport refuelling infrastructure to cut carbon emissions by more than 80 percent.

Using raw materials and sustainable feedstocks to produce high value, renewable products, will create great opportunities for jobs and economic growth in regional and rural areas as part of the many economic benefits delivered through renewable energy.

Why is Queensland the perfect place for biofuels?

Queensland’s strengths align perfectly with what is needed to become an Asia-Pacific hub for biofuels, including:

  • Abundant land and feedstocks
  • A diverse agricultural industry
  • A strong manufacturing base
  • Deep reliance on long haul air freight export
  • World-class expertise in biotechnology research and development, and
  • Reliable and efficient transport infrastructure.

Queensland is in a prime position to capitalise on global demand for biofuels and build a thriving value chain that exports to the world.

As Biofutures Industry Envoy, Professor Ian O’Hara, said in a recent interview: ‘Queensland is far and away is the national leader in [the biofutures] sector – it has been well recognised.’

Jet Zero Australia

The proposed refinery holds a particular place of pride for Jet Zero Australia founder and Managing Director Ed Mason, whose vision for an industry bringing social, economic and environmental benefits to regional Queensland is entering an exciting phase.

‘Our project partners are leaders in their respective fields and we are proud to work with them to ultimately develop a new industry to support our local agriculture, energy and aviation sectors,’ Ed says.

'We are excited to have strong support from the Queensland Government, Qantas and Airbus and to have executed an agreement between Qantas and LanzaJet to complete feasibility studies to build Australia’s first Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) SAF plant.'

Regional jobs are taking off

The SAF sector has the potential to create many new jobs for Queenslanders, especially in regional areas where agricultural by-products are abundant.

Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (DSDILGP) Biofutures Director Michael Burke says the Jet Zero Australia project would create about 100 full-time jobs and employ more than 1,000 workers during construction.

'Construction could start as early as 2024 and, once the biorefinery is built, could produce more than 100 million litres of SAF a year for fuelling aircraft across Australia and the world, including by the Qantas Group,' Michael says.


LanzaJet, a world leader in sustainable fuel technology, has signed on as the technology partner for the project, making use of their leading Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) technology to help deliver what could be Australia’s first ATJ sustainable aviation fuel production facility, producing up to 100 million litres of SAF per year.

LanzaJet CEO Jimmy Samartzis says his company looks forward to seeing the impact this project will have on Australia’s domestic biofuels industry, along with a global impact.

'We have enjoyed the privilege of partnering with public and private sector leaders around the world to fight climate change and enable the global energy transition, and this is an important step forward in Australia,’ he says.

Fuelling your next flight

Qantas is currently using green aviation fuel sourced overseas and the airline giant has committed to hit 10 per cent SAF in its fuel mix by 2030, most of which it would like to source from Australia.

Qantas Group Chief Sustainability Officer Andrew Parker says that this partnership will form an integral part of Qantas’s vision for a sustainable future.

‘Sustainable aviation fuel is critical to the decarbonisation of the aviation industry,’ he says. ‘This investment will help kickstart an innovative project to turn agricultural by-products into sustainable aviation fuel and create a significant domestic biofuels refinery.’

Queensland’s bright biofutures

An Australian SAF industry is expected to be worth $3 billion annually and could create up to 15,600 jobs nationwide by 2050.

DSDILGP’s Biofutures team  is hard at work facilitating a number of initiatives to establish Queensland as the SAF hub of the Asia Pacific region.

The Jet Zero Australia project is another step forward in growing Queensland’s sustainable fuels industry through the Queensland Biofutures 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan ( 2.8 MB).

Last updated: 14 Jun 2023