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Thread: biofuel crops

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Margaret River, Western Australia
    Posts
    12

    biofuel crops

    Picking up on the thread about coconut oil, and watching the regional input here build up here, I keep wondering whether it would be worthwhile to establish a biofuel crops forum.

    Alternatively, if anyone would like to liaise directly with me I have the background and experience now to carry out ethnobotanical survey and establish master species lists for the wider geographical region.

    I know that Indonesia is investing heavily in oil palm stock, while jatropha while considered a weed here in Australia is of interest in India, for example.

    One of the issues with growing these crops concerns their enormous labour intensity, not unlike rubber in Malaysia as another example. The world coffee industry represents a further case in point, if anyone has been following the debate on its global economic importance right up there next to oil.

    There are many factors to take into account in the growing and management of these crops, including human resource allocation and landuse capability, quite apart from market stability and mainstream investor confidence.

    I am very interested indeed in your comments and feedback.

    Kind regards,

    Gil

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Uriarra NSW
    Posts
    249

    Re: biofuel crops

    Only a couple of points:

    Jatropha maybe well be a weed in Australia, but then so is corn, canola, sugar cane, cotton and every potential biofuel feedstock species that I can think of. Granted some are more promiscuous and invasive than others, and some may threaten indigenous ecosystems to a greater or lesser degree. I am sure however, that the risks can be managed. I do realise the foregoing depends on which particular definition of 'weed' is being used.

    Coffee is mechanically harvested in Australia, as are most other processes in the beans preparation. Mechanical innovation will follow the money in our minority world, and will be done after an economic cost benefit analysis. The majority world will play it's strength and use the abundance of manual labour at their disposal. It will be the same old story as mechanical processes will eventually become cheaper (even in the majority world) and displace millions of workers. Sugar cane is a classic. No one wants to harvest sugar cane by hand, but if it's that or destitution and starvation?

    If technology follows it's usual path we are talking about a transitional fuel and associated technology with biofuels. My guess is biofuels have a 15 -20 year life span before the alternatives become viable. So those thinking of investing in oil seed trees in particular will want to take that into account. Anything with a long establishment and production lead time until productive will be, or should be, significantly discounted.

    cheers, Michael

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Uriarra NSW
    Posts
    249

    Re: biofuel crops

    Hi Gil,

    Your opinion would be welcome in the ethanol section on the euc ethanol proposal.

    Michael

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