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Exploring The Future Of Sustainable Aviation Fuel In Aotearoa

Hon Peeni Henare

Minister of Tourism

The feasibility of producing sustainable aviation fuel locally will be tested in two studies that could speed up Aotearoa New Zealand’s energy transition, Tourism Minister Peeni Henare announced today.

The Government is co-funding the two feasibility studies with Air New Zealand and is investing $765,000. The studies will test the feasibility of establishing and operating a sustainable aviation fuel production facility in New Zealand.

“Local production of sustainable aviation fuel would be game-changing for tourism in Aotearoa,” Peeni Henare said.

“Decarbonisation of tourism journeys is a major focus of the draft Tourism Environment Action Plan, which was launched today for public feedback. Aviation contributes up to 60 per cent of tourism’s total emissions.

“Sustainable aviation fuel currently represents the most viable option for reducing carbon emissions from aviation. Investment in low-carbon technologies is a key action under the draft action plan and these studies could get us one step closer to a net-zero carbon tourism sector.

“A domestic sustainable aviation fuel industry would build tourism and aviation sector resilience and also bring flow-on economic benefits like job creation,” Peeni Henare said.

Not only can sustainable aviation fuel greatly reduce emissions from medium and long-haul aviation when compared with fossil jet fuel, but these feasibility studies could create the opportunity to trial new technologies that have broader impacts on the economy as well as the environment.

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“The Government is committed to transitioning the economy away from a reliance on fossil fuels and this work has potential to accelerate that,” Peeni Henare said.

Air New Zealand Chief Sustainability Officer Kiri Hannifin said the airline was grateful for support from the Government to progress work considering the viability of sustainable aviation fuel production in New Zealand.

“So much of what we rely on in Aotearoa is based on our magnificent natural assets including tourism and food production. Air New Zealand has a significant role to play in transitioning our economy to a lower carbon future and flying with sustainable aviation fuel is a key part of this transition,” Kiri Hannifin said.

“Globally, sustainable aviation fuel is in very high demand but limited supply. Commercially producing it in locally would not only help lower the country’s emissions and create jobs, but also provide fuel security in New Zealand,” Kiri Hannifin said.

Fulcrum BioEnergy, in partnership with Air BP, will deliver one study and will investigate the use of unrecyclables and other items that go into landfill as a feedstock.

LanzaTech and LanzaJet, in partnership with Z Energy, will deliver the other study and will investigate the use of forestry residues as the feedstock and consider landfill waste as a supplementary feedstock

Air New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport, Te Taurapa Tūhono New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and the Ministry for the Environment have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate in delivery of the studies.

  • Sustainable aviation fuels are biofuels used to power aircraft and are derived from plants or waste. They produce lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional jet fuel.
  • Sustainable aviation fuel is produced using biomass feedstocks, such as forestry residues, landfill waste or used cooking by-products.
  • Sustainable aviation fuel is the only available option for decarbonising long-haul air travel and will support the aviation sector’s shift towards reduced carbon emissions.
  • The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Air New Zealand signed a Memorandum of Understanding in late 2021 to investigate the feasibility of establishing a commercial-scale sustainable aviation fuel plant in New Zealand. This led to a closed request for proposals.
  • The two preferred providers from these proposals were identified through a formal evaluation process, which took place in August 2022.

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