Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jatropha Catching On As Biodiesel Oilseed

Jatropha has many things in its favour as a biodiesel feedstock: It's a hardy tree that requires little cultivation, and can be co-cultivated with other crops. Its oil yield per hectare is second only to palm oil, but is much less expensive and far less environmentally destructive than palm oil. Read on:
The drought-resistant jatropha plant and its biofuel potential have presented an exciting opportunity for investment in low-cost land that is not currently arable for most crops or suitable for other agricultural development. Interestingly, since the jatropha fruit is non-edible, using it to produce biodiesel would not affect or be affected by demand for food, a major problem that is constantly faced by the palm oil-based biodiesel and corn “ethanol” industries.

The upshot is that jatropha oil should be a cheaper alternative than the popular “edible” fuels made from rapeseed, corn and palm oil. Jatropha offers a new source of income for smallholders.

To date, the big corporations that lead large-scale production globally include BP and D1 Oils, which announced a US$160mil joint venture with a target to plant an estimated total of 405,000ha in India, South-East Asia, southern Africa, and Central and South America.

Others include Vietnam-based GreenEnergy Ltd with over US$20mil of successful placements, both private and public, for jatropha-specific ventures; Australia-based Mission Biofuels which owns about 8,903ha of jatropha plantations in Malaysia, and South Korea-based Eco Solutions with plantations in the Philippines. _Bioenergy



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