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Brazil: Europe’s perfect supplier for biomass & biofuels

Editor’s note: The following is a guest commentary by Stanley Wootliff, chairman of jatropha grower Viridas PLC.

Shell’s joint venture with Cosan highlights the strong positioning of Brazil as well as the burgeoning demand for biofuels. While this may have come as a surprise to some, it was no surprise to me, having spent the last three years developing an appropriate strategy to deliver biofuels to Europe from Brazil.

Brazil has the ideal climate in terms of sunlight and rainfall; it also benefits from having large areas of accessible, fertile, idle land. The country benefits from a strong economy and good political stability, as well as having excellent infrastructure.

While Brazil may be perfect, the views on biofuels have been mixed. There is no doubt that there have been many lessons to learn, particularly from some of the mistakes of the past adopted by first-generation biofuel developers. Companies need to adopt an owner/operator plantation model that ensures the biomass and fuel is generated in a truly sustainable way. Food crop-derived biofuels have fallen out of favour but second-generation replacements are not expected to enter the market in the short term.

However, jatropha is one of few feedstock crops which has the potential to become a truly sustainable dedicated energy crop.

Jatropha, a tree indigenous to Brazil, will grow to heights in excess of five metres and is ideal for mechanised crop picking. Furthermore, jatropha plantations will not be a monoculture but will be co-planted with grass and legumes. The jatropha seeds will be transported to the UK on dry bulk tankers to a 250,000-tonnes-per-annum capacity crushing plant which will be located close to its customers (ensuring inland transportation costs are kept to a minimum). By transporting the seeds rather than crushing in Brazil and transporting the biomass and oil separately, shipping costs are substantially reduced. When generating 60,000 tonnes of jatropha oil, you will also generate 240,000 tonnes of biomass!

The UK biomass demand is largely unsatisfied. Despite an attractive incentive (two Renewable Obligation Certificates per megawatt-hour), power producers cannot secure sufficient sustainable biomass for power generation. With Scottish & Southern, Drax and others all currently planning dedicated biomass power stations, the demand is truly significant. Sourcing materials from a country that can produce it sustainably is essential to us cutting carbon sooner rather than later.

Given jatropha can be produced for a cost per barrel less than oil, it makes complete economic sense to develop this now.


    Posted May 16, 2010 at 4:35 am

    i think moringa and karanja(pongamia pinnata ) should be develop as fast as jatropha and combine then since those 2 legumes enrich the soils

  • Dr. Syamasundar Joshi and Dr. Shantha Joshi
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Here is a TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPED IN THE UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, BANGALORE, which can readily solve the problem in the production of First and Second generation of biofuels at global level, in a span of 20 years, that too in a sustainable way. This technology can also address food security for poor, small scale, resource-limited farmers including women. Simarouba cultivation improves soil fertility by adding organic matter to the soil. Introduction of this rainfed water prudent tree crop acts as a supplement to the regular income and helps in retaining the crop diversity. This technology can be easily adopted to surmount hunger problem at individual as well as at global level. It is a low budget agriculture technology suitable for ecologic farming and does not require intense training. It addresses the problems of biofuel generation, hunger, poverty and agricultural production in many poor countries of the tropical world. The visionaries in NCB, FAO, WHO, ICRAF, CGIAR and other organizations have to recognize the importance of this technology and implement it systematically and effectively to usher evergreen revolution.


    THIS WORKABLE SYSTEM CAN BE EASILY ADOPTED EVEN IN AFRICAN COUNTRIES AT GLOBAL LEVEL. This versatile tree can be easily grown as an intercrop along with the traditional annual crops without decreasing the regular annual food production. Once established, this ecofriendly tree showers following benefits on growers every year for more than 60 years, irrespective of erratic rainfall. 1. The seeds give about one ton good quality edible oil worth about Rs.30,000/ha/year. 2. The surplus oil produced can be easily trans-esterified and converted into biodiesel (FIRST GENERATION BIOFUELS) to take care of the very much needed energy requirements. 3. The oilcake (one ton/ha/year) with about 8% nitrogen is good organic manure that can fulfill the fertiliser requirements of the farmers. Its money value is about Rs.10,000/ha 4. The fruit pulp with about 12% sugar can produce as much as 10,000 liters of beverage/ha/year. The waste fruit pulp also can be gainfully employed to manufacture ethanol (to blend with petrol) (FIRST GENERATION BIOFUELS). The agricultural waste (biomass) such as shell, unwanted branches, and leaf litter (about 15 tons/ha) can be easily used to produce SECOND GENERATION BIOFUELS. This carbon neutral technology is perfectly sustainable and for the production of biofuels there is no need to destroy the virgin forests. Instead these trees help in preserving the forests since the pressure on the demand for wood is easily met by the fast growing Simarouba. 5. The leaf litter is relished very much by earthworms and it can be used to produce vermicompost or compost of about 10 tons/ha/year worth Rs.30,000/ha. 6. From about 500 trees in a hectare the farmer can fell about 25 trees every year and sell for about Rs.25,000/- as it is good timber as well as fuel wood. 7. APART FROM THESE MONETARY BENEFITS, THE DECOCTION FROM LEAVES OF THE TREE (HARVESTED IN A SUSTAINABLE MANNER) IS PROVEN ANTIVIRAL, ANTIBACTERIAL, ANTIAMOEBIC, ANTIMALARIAL, ANTIHELMENTIC, ANTIULCEROUS, ANTITUMOROUS, ANTICANCEROUS, ANTILEUKEMIC. THIS ENABLES THE POOR VILLAGERS TO HAVE EASY ACCESS TO CURE MANY HUMAN AND LIVESTOCK AILMENTS WITH ALMOST NO FINANCIAL BURDEN. 8. Cultivation of this tree as an intercrop without disturbing the regular food production gives an additional financial benefit of Rs.50,000/ha/year every year without fail, irrespective of the vagaries in rainfall. Thus, it gives stability at microeconomics level to the poor farmers. 9. A nation like India with about 140 million ha of land (dryland and wasteland put together) can easily attain self sufficiency in the production of edible oil, biodiesel, organic fertilisers, vermicompost, timber, just in a matter of two decades and attain stability at macroeconomics level. 10. To establish one tree it requires just only, that is Rs.500/ha, to an actual cultivator. The gestation period is about 5 years and it attains stability in production by about 10 years. 11. Its cultivation helps in establishing industries concerned to the production of first and second generation biofuels, edible oil, vegetable butter, margarine, lubricants, soaps, shampoos, other cosmetics, beverages, electricity, thermal power generation, timber, pharmaceuticals etc. at village level and thus helps in creating income generating green jobs to crores of villagers. This gives livelihood to about 30% of the population.12. This evergreen tree cultivation helps in preventing soil erosion, improving ground water position, combating desertification and checking greenhouse effect and global warming. 13. AFTER ATTAINING ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, THE VILLAGERS MAY BE ADVISED TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN STANDARD EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AT THE RURAL LEVEL INVITING THE DEDICATED AND EFFICIENT TEACHERS TO IMPART BEST EDUCATION TO THEIR CHILDREN. THIS WILL AUTOMATICALLY SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF POPULATION EXPLOSON AND THREATENING POLLUTION. The additional money generated at the rural level may also be wisely invested in developing infrastructure such as water supply, sanitation, incessant electricity supply, medical facilities, transport etc. ALL THESE RESULT IN ECONOMIC SECURITY, FOOD SECURITY, BIOMANURE SECURITY, HEALTH SECURITY, FUEL SECURITY, POWER (ELECTRICITY) SECURITY, EDUCATIONAL SECURITY, EMPLOYMENT SECURITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY AT THE RURAL AND GLOBAL LEVEL. This discourages villagers from migrating to urban areas. No wonder if reverse migration begins to take place from urban to rural areas in due course of time. References: Google search: Simarouba glauca cultivation; Simarouba medicine; Simarouba glauca – Wikipedia; Simarouba Bangalore Mirror. Contact address: Dr. Syamasundar Joshi and Dr. Shantha Joshi; 23, R.B.I. Colony, Anandanagar, Bangalore; Mob:(0)94486 84021; E mail

    Posted February 8, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Centre for Jatropha Promotion & Biodiesel (CJP) is the Global authority for scientific commercialization of Jatropha & other non-food biofuel crops and designs and implements the growing of non-food biofuel crops worldwide in a structured Agri-Supply chain, Value additions and research activities thereon & provides technology and services from “Soil to Oil” for the breeding, development, planting and harvesting of next-generation commercial biofuel crops
    CJP has been engaged in promoting sustainable farming for biodiesel production since last one decade and its research findings and on-hand field experiences in respect of various technical, agronomical/silvicultural aspects of plantations of Jatropha have resulted in significant improvements in knowledge and technical background related to Productivity, profitability and sustainability of commercial production of Jatropha oil crop. The CJP has focused on the development of Jatropha Curcas and other non-food biodiesel crops. Our primary goal is to discover and develop high-yielding crops that generate the most bio-energy per hectare of land. We have identified and developed new elite varieties of feedstock crops optimized for production under different agro-climatic conditions, economic and social parameters.
    CJP has also identified , experimented and developed following other oil seed bearing trees [OSBT] and non-food oil crops and . Working on further development and cultivation of the same
    Jojoba (Simmondsia chinesis)
    Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.)
    Karanja (Pongamia pinnata)
    Kokum (Garcinia indica)
    Moringa oleifera
    Mahua (Madhuca indica)
    Neem (Azadirachta indica)
    Ricinus communis
    Simarouba (Simarouba glauca)
    Tumba (Citrullus colocynthis)

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