New advisory role for Dr Paul Bennett
8 November 2022
In a nod to his international bioenergy leadership, Scion’s Dr Paul Bennet has been appointed to a research advisory group providing guidance to Australian officials looking to establish a biofuels industry for aviation.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is collaborating with aviation giant Boeing on a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Roadmap for Australia and is starting by considering the availability and cost-effectiveness of suitable biofuel feedstock.
Together, they’ve formed an advisory group tasked with exploring feedstock options to inform the roadmap and highlight the opportunities for Australia’s aviation sector to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and improve its energy security by adopting biofuels.
Dr Bennett, Scion’s portfolio leader for Integrated Bioenergy, is excited to participate in the group which allows him to strengthen trans-Tasman research relationships and directly participate in biofuel discussions with Boeing, one of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers.
He says development of an SAF industry in Australia is at the same early stage as New Zealand’s, and supporting its development had benefits to both markets.
“Trans-Tasman routes are amongst the busiest airline routes in the world. Aligned cross-Tasman development will enhance the attractiveness of the SAF market to technology providers and investors.”
Similar to New Zealand, Australia has the potential to produce SAF from woody biomass as well as use sugar cane as a feedstock too.
“Sugar offers a low-cost route to ethanol and might open up new conversion technologies,” he says.
CSIRO and Boeing have partnered on aerospace technology research in Australia for 30 years, jointly investing over $120 million across a range of projects. The advisory group examining the market opportunities for SAF is expected to complete their findings by mid-2023.
Aviation accounts for nearly 3% of global CO2 emissions and air travel is expected to double in the next 15 years. While solutions, such as electrified aviation, are being developed, the industry needs more immediate solutions to cut the direct carbon emissions of flying.
Greater use of bioenergy, which is renewable energy made from sustainable resources such as trees, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce reliance on oil imports, increase energy security and grow regional economies. As the global marine and aviation sectors turn to ‘greener’ options, biofuel technologies become more attractive considerations.
Scion’s General Manager Forests to Biobased Products Florian Graichen says the invitation for Dr Bennett to participate in the advisory group is further evidence of his very high standing and reputation in the global bioenergy community.
“Contributing closely to an alliance between CSIRO, one of the leading global research agencies, and Boeing is a unique privilege and opportunity. I am excited that Paul can contribute to such a high-profile relationship.
“The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is moving in the right direction by committing to achieving carbon neutral growth from 2020 onwards and net-zero carbon emissions from the global air transport industry operations by 2050. Scion’s and Paul’s work is directly contributing to these global challenges and opportunities.”
Since January 2021, Dr Bennett has served as Chair of International Energy Agency (IEA) – Bioenergy, the world’s leading international collaboration on bioenergy research, development and usage. This role has seen him lead the world’s most prominent bioenergy scientists and policy makers as they work together to contribute to the international bioenergy agenda.