Articles tagged with "jatropha"
If you had not gathered this before, then you should know that I have been favorably impressed with the potential of algae as a future source of biofuels. However I recognize that there is a considerable amount of research and business development and growth that will have to occur before such fuel makes a significant impact in the market place.
Of the other alternative biofuel sources, I was also considerate of jatropha, which seemed to have some significant potential. The fuel comes from the nuts which the shrub produces, and since it can be grown on quite poor land, and in some countries is already in use a fencing plant I anticipated that its potential would be increasingly recognized. Well, it has not quite turned out the way that I thought it would, at least not yet.
Following my recent post on the energy situation in India, I received an e-mail from Sreenivas Ghatty, the founder and CEO of Tree Oils India. Sreenivas told me that I was correct that the jatropha situation in India has been overstated, and wanted to provide some facts on where jatropha stands. Sreenivas is involved in trying to establish a jatropha industry, and he wrote in part:
There are no large scale commercial plantations in India as of now. The plantation activity has commenced here and there during the last few years, but, it may take few more years before the commercial yields start. We have been focusing on research to improve yields and expect meaningful outcomes this year. Based on the results, we intend to expand plantation on our own and through contract farming in the next few years.
Jatropha is not panacea to feedstock problems. It has limitations and would fail under certain agro climatic conditions. There are other species such as Pongamia, Moringa, Madhuca and Neem which could perform well where Jatropha could fail. If right species and right plantation material are selected and the right agronomic practices are adopted, the results might be profitable, viable and sustainable to all the stakeholders.
As I traveled through India on a recent business trip, the topic of energy was constantly on my mind (as it is every time I travel). I found out some interesting things about jatropha, toured a sugarcane ethanol plant, found a wind farm in the middle of nowhere, and encountered a native ethanol skeptic. Here are my impressions.
Lord Ron Oxburgh, former non-executive chairman, Shell UK; chairman, House of Lords select committee on science and technology; honorary professor, Cambridge University
The morning began with a Keynote address by Lord Oxburgh former non-executive chairman of Shell, who spoke on “Out of Oil, into Hot Water.” He began by noting the economic difficulties that are coming as demand continues to exceed supply. We are not, after all, making oil any more. (Ed comment – well let’s not forget biofuels – and it turned out he did not). Because these problems will arise around the time of peaking they will likely be precursors to it, and these economic consequences will come sooner than expected.
The problems, however, are not that we are running out of oil, rather it is that we are running out of cheap oil. When oil fields are abandoned there may be 60% of the original oil (OOIP) that is left in the rock. At present this is just too expensive to extract, but it leaves us with a problem since most transportation requires a liquid fuel. To work effectively the vehicle must have a small, relatively light engine, together with a storage reservoir full of fuel, that must in turn, be as light, yet energy dense, as possible. The Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) has filled that need for the past century or so. The fuels that power it are among the most energy dense of those commonly available. That alone, however, is not the problem.
Palm Oil plantation in Indonesia. Fires in background.
It is a sad story in which the cure is sometimes worse than the disease. When you see the magic, please pay close attention.