US should go in for massive offshore wind farms.
Renewable Energy Expert
Corn ethanol, for example, has an energy balance ratio of 1.3 and produces approximately 300-400 gallons of ethanol per acre. Soybean bio diesel with an energy balance of 2.5, typically can yield 60 gallons of bio diesel per acre while an acre of sugar cane can produce 600-800 gallons of ethanol with an energy balance of 8.0. An acre of poplar trees can yield more than 1,500 gallons of cellulosic ethanol with an energy balance of 12.0, according to a National Geographic study published in October 2007.
According to Arturo Velez, Agave Expert:
“On an annualized basis agave produces 3X more distilled ethanol than sugar cane in Brasil; 6X more distilled ethanol than yellow corn in the US; at least 3X more cellulosic ethanol than switchgrass or poplar tree. Producing one gallon of distilled ethanol from agave costs at the most half the cost of one gallon from sugar cane and one fourth of corn's production cost.
One hectare of Agave captures at least 5X more CO2 than one hectare of the fastest growing Eucalyptus on a high density plantation and in one single year agave produces the same cellulose pulp Eucalyptus produces in 5 years”..
CAM species such as Agave show considerable promise as a biofuel crop for the future due to their high water-use efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress (e.g., drought and high temperatures), and potential for high biomass production on marginal lands .
The optimal use of water to grow a selected feedstock is of critical importance because water scarcity, more than any other factor, determines whether land is suitable for growing food crops. Thus, growing plants with high water-use efficiency on land that is too dry to grow food crops is a potentially powerful strategy for producing biomass feed stocks in large amounts while minimizing competition with the food supply. Additionally, making productive use of semi-arid land can have positive effects on poor rural areas. The water-use efficiency (WUE) value (grams CO2 fixed/kilogram water transpired) varies markedly among plants with different types of photosynthetic metabolism. C3 plants typically have WUE values of 1–3; C4 plants, between 2 and 5; whereas crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) plants have values between 10 and 40. Therefore, CAM plants can be cultivated in arid or semi-arid land normally unsuitable for the cultivation of most C3 and C4 crops. It is exceedingly unlikely that a C3 or C4 plant could be developed, with or without genetic modification, with water-use efficiency approaching that of CAM plants.Moreover, CAM plants are native to essentially every state in the USA except Alaska, although they are prominent parts of ecosystems only in the Southwest.
In spite of this potential, CAM plants have received much less systematic study or development as energy crops relative to inherently less water-efficient plants such as corn (maize), sugarcane, switch grass Miscanthus, poplar, sugar beets, Jatropha, soy, and canola.
Cellulose content is far more in Agave Americana compared to Deciduous Wood,sugarcane,wheat straw,corn stover and switch grass while lignin content is far less in Agave Americana as compared to the others mentioned.
Anumakonda Aug 16, 2013
A group of Mexican researchers believe they've discovered what they call the "missing energy crop," and though it hasn't exactly been missing-it grows abundantly in Mexico and in some southern U.S. and South American locations-these scientists claim agave possesses characteristics superior to other feedstocks currently being examined for biofuel purposes, such as cellulosic ethanol production.
Agave is arguably one of the most significant plants in Mexican culture. It has a rosette of thick fleshy leaves, each of which usually end in a sharp point with a spiny margin, and is commonly mistaken for cacti.
President Barack Obama’s Plan to tackle Climate Change includes,” The US will increase its research and development of bio ethanol as fuel. I believe biomass and ethanol are a part of the solution and belong in the green transition. Yet bio fuels and ethanol are many things. Not all are green and not all are sustainable in the broadest sense. For bio ethanol to belong in the green economy it has to deliver substantial greenhouse gas savings and avoid negative impact on food prices. Only then will it be good business for farmers and good for the climate. The technology is available and ready to be scaled up. Second generation bio ethanol is an emerging market with the potential to reduce 85 pct. of CO2 emission compared to regular fossil fuels in transportation. It is also a local resource increasing energy independence and creating local jobs in agriculture, factories and logistics.”. It is most welcome.
Hitherto Corn and Sugarcane are used in the biofuel production. In the debate on FOOD Vs FUEL, it is necessary to find alternatives.
“Agave has a huge advantage, as it can grow in marginal or desert land, not on arable land,” and therefore would not displace food crops, says Oliver Inderwildi, at the University of Oxford. The majority of ethanol produced in the world is still derived from food crops such as corn and sugarcane. Speculators have argued for years now that using such crops for fuel can drive up the price of food.
Agave, however, can grow on hot dry land with a high-yield and low environmental impact. The researchers proposing the plant’s use have modeled a facility in Jalisco, Mexico, which converts the high sugar content of the plant into ethanol.
The research, published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, provides the first ever life-cycle analysis of the energy and greenhouse gas balance of producing ethanol with agave. Each megajoule of energy produced from the agave-to-ethanol process resulted in a net emission of 35 grams of carbon dioxide, far below the 85g/MJ estimated for corn ethanol production. Burning gasoline produces roughly 100g/MJ.“The characteristics of the agave suit it well to bioenergy production, but also reveal its potential as a crop that is adaptable to future climate change,” adds University of Oxford plant scientist Andrew Smith. “In a world where arable land and water resources are increasingly scarce, these are key attributes in the food versus fuel argument, which is likely to intensify given the expected large-scale growth in biofuel production.”
Agave already appeared to be an interesting bio ethanol source due to its high sugar content and its swift growth. For the first time Researchers at the universities of Oxford and Sydney have now conducted the first life-cycle analysis of the energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of agave-derived ethanol and present their promising results in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.
On both life cycle energy and GHG emissions agave scores at least as well as corn, switch grass and sugarcane, while reaching a similar ethanol output. The big advantages agave has over the before mentioned plants is that it can grow in dry areas and on poor soil, thus practically eliminating their competition with food crops and drastically decreasing their pressure on water resources.
Plants which use crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), which include the cacti and Agaves, are of particular interest since they can survive for many months without water and when water is available they use it with an efficiency that can be more than 10 times that of other plants, such as maize, sorghum, miscanthus and switchgrass. CAM species include no major current or potential food crops; they have however for centuries been cultivated for alcoholic beverages and low-lignin fibres.
They may therefore also be ideal for producing biofuels on land unsuited for food production.
In México, there are active research programs and stakeholders investigating Agave spp. as a bioenergy feedstock. The unique physiology of this genus has been exploited historically for the sake of fibers and alcoholic beverages, and there is a wealth of knowledge in the country of México about the life history, genetics, and cultivation of Agave. The State of Jalisco is the denomination of origin of Agave tequilana Weber var. azul, a cultivar primarily used for the production of tequila that has been widely researched to optimize yields. Other cultivars of Agave tequilana are grown throughout México, along with the Agave fourcroydes Lem., or henequen, which is an important source of fiber that has traditionally been used for making ropes. The high sugar content of Agave tequilana may be valuable for liquid fuel production, while the high lignin content of Agave fourcroydes may be valuable for power generation through combustion.
Along with Agave species described above, some other economically important species include A. salmiana, A. angustiana, A. americana, and A. sisalana. Agave sisalana is not produced in México, but has been an important crop in regions of Africa and Australia. Information collected here could thus be relevant to semi-arid regions around the world.
Agave is a CAM Plant. Crassulacean acid metabolism, also known as CAM photosynthesis, is a carbon fixation pathway that evolved in some plants as an adaptation to arid conditions in a plant using full CAM, the stomata in the leaves remains shut during the day to reduce evapotranspiration, but open at night to collect carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is stored as the four-carbon acidmalate, and then used during photosynthesis during the day. The pre-collected CO2 is concentrated around the enzyme RuBisCO, increasing photosynthetic efficiency. Agave and Opuntia are the best CAM Plants.
Agave Competitive Advantages
* Thrives on dry land/marginal land. Most efficient use of soil, water and light
* Massive production. Year-around harvesting
* Very high yields with very low or no inputs
* Very high quality biomass and sugars
* Very low cost of production. Not a commodity, so prices are not volatile
* Very versatile: biofuels, byproducts, chemicals
* World-wide geographical distribution
* Enhanced varieties are ready.
In their research paper SARAH C. DAVIS et al conclude:
"Large areas of the tropics and subtropics are too arid or degraded to support food crops, but Agave species may be suitable for biofuel production in these regions. We review the potential of Agave species as biofuel feedstocks in the context of ecophysiology, agronomy, and land availability for this genus globally. Reported dry biomass yields of Agave spp., when annualized, range from 1 to 34Mg /ha/yr without irrigation, depending on species and location. Some of the most productive species have not yet been evaluated at a commercial scale. Approximately 0.6Mha of land previously used to grow Agave for coarse
?bers have fallen out of production, largely as a result of competition with synthetic ?bers.
Theoretically, this crop area alone could provide 6.1 billion L of ethanol if Agave were reestablished as a bioenergy feedstock without causing indirect land use change. Almost one-?fth of the global land surface is semiarid, suggesting there may be large opportunities for expansion of Agave crops for feedstock, but more ?eld trials are needed to determine tolerance boundaries for different Agave species(The global potential for Agave as a biofuel feedstock, GCB Bioenergy (2011) 3, 68–78, doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2010.01077.x)."
Agave and Opuntia are the best choice to grow in waste and vacant lands in Asia,Africa and Latin America.The advantage with the plants is both are regenerative and thrive under harsh conditions.
Agave can be grown in huge areas of waste lands in Developing countries like India. Another route of power production is biogas generation from Agave as well as Opuntia. Biogas power generators are commercially available. This way power can be generated at local level with local resources. Both agave and Opuntia are regenerative plants.
Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country--
Even after 67 years of independence 13% of villages(about 31,000) are still unelectrified in India.
No power is costlier than no power - Dr.H.J.Bhabha.
Put the RENEWABLES to WORK: To get inexhaustible,pollution-free energy which cannot be misused.
Renewable Energy Expert
Excellent article. Infact among renewables for developing countries biogas for cooking and power generation is best option . Once India was leading in biogas units but China took over. The main constraint for wider use of biogas is lack of animal dung. Thanks to nature we have care-free growth,regenerative and CAM plants like Agave and opuntia which can be used as inputs for biogas production and subsequent power generation.
Agave is a versatile plant well suited for millions of hectares of wastelands in India.
Agave-derived Renewable Fuels, Products and Chemicals
Ethanol(1st and 2nd generations),Biobutanol,biomethanol,biojet fiel,green gasoline,biooil,biocrude,biodiesel,biocoal,biochar,H2,syngas,biogas,torrefied pellets and briquettes, drop-in fuels,pyrolysis oil,and biochar.
Agave syrup(kosher),Powder inulin,healthy sweetners,far substitute(ice cream),bioplastics,cellulose,paper,acids,CO,CO2,biopolymers,pressed boards,geotextiles,fibres,phenols,adhesives,wax,antifreeze,film(food wrap),fertilisers,insulating foam and panes,gel,pectin,non-wooven material9disposable diapers),mouldings,concrete additive,food additives,composite materials,esters,substitute for asbestos, in fiberglass,hydrocarbons,petrochemical precursors, activated coal,secondary metabolites,detergent,glycols,furfurans,resins,polyurethanes,epoxy,aromatics,olefins,paints and lubricants.
Pellets and briquettes,syn-gas,biooil,biocoal,biogas,biochar,H2 cells,ammonia,and pyrolysis oil.
Co2 Sequestering in the soil
Agave: Competitive Advantages
1. Uses marginal dry-land (41% of the Earth’s surface).
2. Most Efficient use of soil, water and light.
3. Massive production. Year-round harvesting.
4. Very high yields. Very low inputs.
5. Lowest cost of production among energy crops.
6. Not a commodity, so prices are not volatile.
7. Very versatile: biofuels, bioproducts, chemicals.
8. 100 M tonnes established in the 5 continents
9. Enhanced varieties are ready.
Mexico is pioneer in utilising every part of Agave for commercial exploitation. Will India follow? Ours is an agrarian economy. Let us utilise our resources fully so that there will be more rural employment and climate change abatement by providing CAM plants.
Thanks to the wonders of nature,we have Care-free growth,regenerative plants like Agave and Opuntia which can be grown in these waste lands for Biofuel and Biogas for Power generation. Mexico is leader in this.
Agave(Americana),Sisal Agave is a multiple use plant which has 10% fermentable sugars and rich in cellulose. The fibre is used in rope making and also for weaving clothes in Philippines under the trade name DIP-DRY. In Brazil a paper factory runs on sisal as input. A Steroid HECOGENIN is extracted from this plant leaves. Since on putrification,it produces methane gas, it can be cut and used as input in biogas plants. Also in Kenya and Lesotho dried pieces of Agave are mixed with concrete since it has fibres which act as binding.
Biofuel can be produced from Agave. Oxford University study on
“The sustainability of large-scale biofuel production has recently been called into question in view of mounting concerns over the associated impact on land and water resources. As the most predominant biofuel today, ethanol produced from food crops such as corn in the US has been frequently criticised. Ethanol derived from cellulosic feedstocks is likely to overcome some of these drawbacks, but the production technology is yet to be commercialised. Sugarcane ethanol is the most efficient option in the short term, but its success in Brazil is difficult to replicate elsewhere. Agaves are attracting attention as potential
ethanol feedstocks because of their many favourable characteristics such as high productivities and sugar content and their ability to grow in naturally water-limited environments. Here, we present the first life cycle energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis for agave-derived ethanol. The results suggest that ethanol derived from agave is likely to be superior, or at least comparable, to that from corn, switchgrass and sugarcane in terms of energy and
GHG balances, as well as in ethanol output and net GHG offset per unit land area. Our analysis highlights the promising opportunities for bioenergy production from agaves in arid or semi-arid regions with minimum pressure on food production and water resources.
“[...] the emissions of agave-derived fuel are estimated to stand at around 35g of CO2 per megajoule from field-to-wheel, compared to the 85g/MJ emitted when
making corn ethanol.”
Dr Tan and his colleagues found this energy balance is five units to one.
“This compares favourably to the highly efficient sugarcane, and to the less efficient corn as a source of biofuel. It also compares favourably to sugarcane-derived ethanol for its ability to offset greenhouse gas emissions, which we calculated at 7.5 tons of CO2e per hectare per year – taking into account the crop’s complete lifecycle”
The main drawback for wider application of Biofuels is input. There was a big movement for biofuel from Jatropha in India but in reality not much has been achieved. Agave(Americana),Sisal Agave is a multiple use plant which has 10% fermentable sugars and rich in cellulose. The fibre is used in rope making and also for weaving clothes in Philippines under the trade name DIP-DRY. In Brazil a paper factory runs on sisal as input. A Steroid HECOGENIN is extracted from this plant leaves. Since on putrification,it produces methane gas, it can be cut and used as input in
biogas plants. Also in Kenya and Lesotho dried pieces of Agave are mixed with concrete since it has fibres which act as binding.
Here is an excellent analysis on Agave as a biofuel:
Agave shows potential as biofuel feedstock, Checkbiotech, By Anna Austin, February 11, 2010:
“Mounting interest in agave as a biofuel feedstock could jump-start the Mexican biofuels industry, according to agave expert Arturo Valez Jimenez.
Agave thrives in Mexico and is traditionally used to produce liquors such as tequila. It has a rosette of thick fleshy leaves, each of which usually end in a sharp point with a spiny
margin. Commonly mistaken for cacti, the agave plant is actually closely related to the lily and amaryllis families. The plants use water and soil more efficiently than any other plant or tree in the world, Arturo said. “This is a scientific fact—they don’t require watering or fertilizing and they can absorb carbon dioxide during the night,” he said. The plants annually produce up to 500 metric tons of biomass per hectare, he added.
Agave fibers contain 65 percent to 78 percent cellulose, according to Jimenez. “With new technology, it is possible to breakdown over 90 percent of the cellulose and hemicellulose structures, which will increase ethanol and other liquid biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass drastically,” he said. “Mascoma is assessing such technology.”
Another plant of great use is OPUNTIA for biogas production.
The cultivation of nopal((OPUNTIA FICUS-INDICA), a type of cactus, is one of the most important in Mexico. According to Rodrigo Morales, Chilean engineer, Wayland biomass, installed on Mexican soil, “allows you to generate inexhaustible clean energy.” Through the production of biogas, it can serve as a raw material more efficiently, by example and by comparison with jatropha.
Wayland Morales, head of Elqui Global Energy argues that “an acre of cactus produces 43 200 m3 of biogas or the equivalent in energy terms to 25,000 liters of diesel.” With the same land planted with jatropha, he says, it will produce 3,000 liters of biodiesel.
Another of the peculiarities of the nopal is biogas which is the same molecule of natural gas, but its production does not require machines or devices of high complexity. Also, unlike natural gas, contains primarily methane (75%), carbon dioxide (24%) and other minor gases (1%), “so it has advantages from the technical point of view since it has the same capacity heat but is cleaner, “he says, and as sum datum its calorific value is 7,000 kcal/m3.
I had been advocating Biofuel from Agave and Opuntia besides Biogas for power production. Unfortunately in India, we are in most cases imitators but not innovators. First Box Type solar cooker was from India. But often we adopt western designs. Unless west recognizes, we don’t recognize.
I submitted a research project on Biofuel from Agave and Biogas from Opuntia to Government of India. If any industrial houses/organisations are interested in promoting this in India I have collaboration with leaders in the field from Mexico,UK.US and Australia.
Here is more important information:
Agave's lower lignin content (down to 2.4%) and higher cellulose content (62%) makes it ideal for production of Biofuel. Agave can be intercropped with Opuntia(Prickly Pear) which will be used to generate biogas for renewable electricity generation. Biogas power generators from KW size to MW size are commercially available from Germany,China,Vietnam etc. The cost of production per Kwh with Opuntia can be as low as US$ 3.00 per million BTU. On an annual basis,one hectare of agave can yield upto ten times the ethanol one hectare of sugarcane in Brazil. Agave to Ethanol's CO2 e emissions are lower than sugarcane and corn.
Water - footprint -- agave does not have any. Agave uses water,light and soil most efficiently amongst plants/trees on earth. Agave is packed with sugars, on an annual basis one hectare of agave yoelds upto 10 thousand gallons of ethanol(from its sap/juice) and 6500 gallons of cellulosic ethanol. No other plant in the World has such potential.
I have a plan: We have SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES (SEZ). Just like that we can start YOUTH ECONOMIC ZONES (YEZ). Wastelands can be given to youth on a lease basis(about 10 acres per youth) and 1o such youth can form a co-operative. They can cultivate fast growing multiple use plants like Agave and Opuntia. Power generation plants can be set up at local level. This way there will be decentralised power. This fits in Mahatma Gandhiji's Concept of AGRO INDUSTRIES utilising local resources and resourcefulness. Youth can be given short term training in Agricultural operations. This way we can provide employment to Youth besides bringing waste and vacant land under cultivation.
What is more, large plantations of Agave and Opuntia lead to climate Stability as both are CAM plants. Crassulacean acid metabolism, also known as CAM photosynthesis, is a carbon fixation pathway that evolved in some plants as an adaptation to arid conditions. In a plant using full CAM, the stomata in the leaves remain shut during the day to reduce evapotranspiration, but open at night to collect carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is stored as the four-carbon acid malate, and then used during photosynthesis during the day. The pre-collected CO2 is concentrated around the enzyme RuBisCO, increasing photosynthetic efficiency.
Developing countries like ours which have millions of hectares of waste lands can transform rural economy by going in for Agave and Opuntia plantations on a massive scale. As one Exonomist put it, IT IS NOT THE LACK OF RESOURCES BUT RESOURCEFULNESS THAT EXPLAINS WHY PEOPLE PERISH IN THE MIDST OF PLENTY.
Sometime back there was much interest in growing Jatropha.
Here is an interesting analysis on Jatropha in India.
“The Indian experience The National, a newspaper published in Abu Dhabi in its May 11, 2009 issue, published an article titled; ‘Jatropha seeds yield little hope for India’s oil dream.’ The article referred to a project that was embarked upon by Professor R. R. Shah in 2005, when he sent a team to Navsari Agricultural University’s most parched and desolate strip of land, a farm in the Vyasa district of India’s northern state of Gujarat. The team was instructed to set up a model farm for jatropha, the hardy shrub with oil-rich seeds that were then emerging as one of the most promising alternatives to crude oil. At the time, jatropha’s promise seemed boundless. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the president of the University, even used his presidential address that year to extol the virtues of jatropha. “Jatropha can survive in the most arid wastelands”, the story went. And so vast barren swathes of India could be put to productive use. It is inedible so it would not cause a backlash by competing with food crops, it said. The government, according to the publication announced a scheme to plant 13 million hectares, enough to generate nearly 500,000 barrels of jatropha oil per day. But as Prof Shah’s project in Vyasa nears its end this month, the dean of agribusiness at Navsari is sceptical. “There is no yield,” he says. “The literature said that with dry land, after four years’ growth, you can get a yield of 1kg per plant. For us, it is hardly 200g per plant.” The consensus of the team of experts after evaluating India’s jatropa projects from 22 agribusiness colleges across the country was that, indeed, jatropha would grow on wasteland, but would give no appreciable yield. “This is not a wasteland crop. It needs fertiliser, water and good management. Yes, it grows on wasteland, but it doesn’t give you any yield,” the publication quotes Dr Suman Jha a researcher on Prof. Shah’s team as saying. If this observation is anything to go by, then the persistent argument that jatropha could grow on unproductive agriculture land should be looked at again. This argument also challenges the assertion that investors are not a threat to smallholder farmers,whose productive agriculture land stands to be annexed by powerful multinationals for the cultivation of biofuel crops. Non of the projects cited in The National story, including D1 Oils’, a London-listed biofuels company, which has planted about 257,000 hectares of jatropha, mainly in India was successful. The company moved far too early. The report indicated that D1 is also having some nasty surprises on yield. It said in 2006 that it aimed to produce 2.7 tonnes of oil per hectare from areas planted with its new E1 variety, and 1.7 tonnes of oil from normal seed. That is equivalent to about 8 tonnes and 5 tonnes of seed per hectare respectively, or 3.5kg and 2kg a plant. According to the report, Pradip Bhar, who runs the company’s D1 Williamson Magor Bio Fuel joint venture in India’s north east, admits he has yet to achieve a fraction of that. “Hitting 500g is the challenge,” he says. “Mortality is quite high. But if we can reach 500g in two years’ time, after that the bush will continue to grow. Our expectation is that after the fourth year we will hit 1kg. The 1.5kg mark we haven’t touched as yet.” Those are the results from the fertile state of Assam, According to the report. The yields in other, dryer states such as Jharkand and Orissa, he says, are much worse. Mr Bhar intends to hold the area under cultivation steady at about 132,000 hectares this year. As his plantations account for more than half of D1 Oils’ Jatropha crop, the company’s goal of planting 1 million hectares by 2011 looks like a tough one. He is concentrating instead on ensuring his small contract farmers continue tending it for the two or three years needed before it becomes profitable. This challenge is one of the reasons why Prof Shah doubts the 500,000 hectares of jatropha the Indian government estimates has been planted so far. Only last month, he unsettled an annual meeting of the universities researching jatropha and India’s National Oilseeds and Vegetable Oil Development Board by reporting that only 5,000 hectares was actually under plantation in Gujarat, half the official estimate, the report added. The Indian experience can provide sufficient evidence for a careful, and thorough, cost-benefit analysis of Ghana’s jatropha dream, before the bubble most probably bursts. From May 27 to 28, an international conference on jatropha in Ghana would be considering the benefits of the crop to the global economy. Hopefully, the conference would not hype the benefits of jatropha and neglect the possible pitfalls. An objective consideration of all the possibilities, including that of possible failure, as the Indian experience has shown so as to minimize any collateral damage in the long term is necessary for the move forward. The companies investing in jatropha and other non-food crops for the production of biofuels including the ones from India, have lots of lessons to learn from India’s example, so as not to repeat the mistake”. - See more at:http://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2009/05/23/update-any-lessons-for-ghana-in-india’s-jatropha-failure/#sthash.oPBf4MQg.dpuf
On the other hand I had been advocating cultivating care-free growth plants like Agave and Opuntia in Waste lands. Both are CAM Plants. Biofuel and Biogas and subsequent power can be generated from both of these plants. Both are CAM Plants.
There is no point in saying that Jatropha is being cultivated in India since long. Nobody denies this. My criticism is that Jatropha needs watering and a seasonal crop. It takes minimum 5 years to yield the seeds. Because of Hype many people grabbed thousands of acres of wastelands for lease. How many of them are actually growing Jatropha is a million Dollar question. People want to grow in Millions of hectares of Jatropha crop in Ghana,Medagaskar,Tanzania,Kenya etc. But how much area is covered by Jatropha? I have First hand information of Jatropha in Madagascar.
In India (AP),a Jatropha biodiesel extraction plant was set up but was not a success as there was no regular supply of Jatropha seeds.
Elsewhere there is criticism on Jatropha as it also requires watering like normal plants though in lesser quantity:
As of 2011 skepticism about the "miracle" properties of Jatropha has been voiced. For example: "The idea that jatropha can be grown on marginal land is a red herring", according to Harry Stourton, business development director of UK-based Sun Biofuels, which cultivates Jatropha in Mozambique and Tanzania. "It does grow on marginal land, but if you use marginal land you'll get marginal yields," he said.
An August 2010 article warned about the actual utility and potential dangers of reliance on Jatropha in Kenya. Major concerns included its invasiveness, which could disrupt local biodiversity, as well as damage to water catchment areas.
Jatropha curcas is lauded as being sustainable, and that its production would not compete with food production, but the jatropha plant needs water like every other crop to grow. This could create competition for water between the jatropha and other edible food crops. In fact, jatropha requires five times more water per unit of energy than sugarcane and corn.
1. Reuters: Biofuel jatropha falls from wonder-crop pedestal, 21-1-2011
2. Friends of the Earth Europe: Biofuel 'wonder-crop' jatropha failing to deliver, 21-01-2011
3. "Biodiesel wonder plant could spell doom for Kenya". naturekenya.org. Retrieved 2011-03-22.
4. Friends of the Earth kicks against Jatropha production in Africa, Ghana Business News, Friday, May 29, 2009,
5. Phil McKenna (June 9, 2009). "All Washed Up for Jatropha? The draught-resistant "dream" biofuel is also a water hog".Technology Review. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
In Summary I am not against growing Jatropha but the cost benefit analysis need to be carried out with respect to other options like Agave and Opuntia as far as growing in waste lands is concerned.Both Agave and Opuntia are regenerative plants. As such input is available round the year if planted in different seasons. Being CAM plants, massive cultivation of Agave and Opuntia in wastelands in developing countries will act as carbon sink.
Renewable Energy Expert
Excellent article. How about biofuel from Agave and Opuntia,both care-free growth,regenerative CAM plants and biogas for power generation. Mexico is pioneer in this. Developing countries can go for biofuel/biogas for power on a massive scale with agave/opuntia input by growing these plants in huge areas of wastelands. Being CAM plants,they will act as Carbon Sink.
Renewable Energy Expert
Excellent article. Infact Developing countries need Renewable Energy badly.
The phenomenal growth of Wind Energy in China is amazing.
Outstanding. As a Wind Energy Expert,I preserve this. Congratulations Joan Sullivan and Renewable Energy World for publishing this.
Batteries are crucial in energy storage.
Excellent. Very useful to Wind Turbine manufacturers.