China’s purported ban on Australian coal in late February – that was simultaneously confirmed and denied by Chinese authorities – and the significant moves from the banking and investment sector to move away from fossil fuels, as well as major players like Glencore and BHP bowing to investor and environmental pressure to shift from coal, are giving the sector some thought.

Now, Bioenergy Australia is calling for some strategic thinking and an urgent fast track on the development of a new industry that can replace and support jobs and economic development for regional Australia and a transition economy for Australia offering a AU$3.5 to $5 billion investment opportunity.

The organisation cites a recently released market analysis and forecast report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which predicts modern bioenergy to have the biggest growth in the next five years, driving 40 per cent of global energy consumption growth.

“It is almost inconceivable that in these times of significant issues regarding fuel security, waste and declining regional economies we don’t have a national strategy for Australia’s bioeconomy,” says Dr John Hewson, Chair Bioenergy Australia.

“Australia needs this new industry and we are calling on a Parliamentary inquiry into the impediments of the development of the industry, and for Australia’s bioeconomy to be given a place within a Ministerial portfolio in the next Government. We need leadership now and we need Parliament to act.”

Bioenergy Australia says that reports regarding Australia’s low emergency fuel reserves show the nation as ‘vulnerable’, making it a critical national security issue.

“Australia is languishing behind other nations in fuel independence and security and has been named as the least prepared developed nation to deal with a crisis,” continued Dr Hewson.

“Latest figures produced by the Department of Energy show stockpiles at the end of October 2018 were 27 days total petroleum products, 22 days of petrol and 17 days of diesel.”

Dr Hewson explained that now is the time for bipartisan support to develop a new industry and economy for Australia.

“Biofuels represent such a significant opportunity to not only our fuel security challenge, but also regional development, jobs, waste reduction and emissions reduction,” concluded Dr Hewson.