By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney
Papua New Guinea
People on the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea have found
their own solution to high energy prices - the humble coconut.
They are developing mini-refineries that produce a coconut oil that can
From police officers to priests, the locals are powering up their
vehicles and generators with coco-fuel.
Inquiries for the coconut power have come in from overseas, including
Iran and Europe.
For years, the people of Bougainville have been dependent on expensive
fuel imported onto the island.
Shortages have often caused many businesses in this part of Papua New
Guinea to grind to a halt. High energy costs have not helped either.
Doesn't it sound good if you really run your car on something which
falls off a tree and that's the good thing about it
Increasingly, locals are turning to a cheaper and far more sustainable
alternative to diesel. Coconut oil is being produced at a growing number
of backyard refineries.
Matthias Horn, a German migrant and an engineer, operates one such refinery.
"They sometimes refer to me as the Mad German because how can you do
that to your car... filling it with some coconut juice that you normally
fry your fish in," he said.
"The coconut tree is a beautiful tree. Doesn't it sound good if you
really run your car on something which falls off a tree and that's the
good thing about it. You run your car and it smells nice and it's
environmentally friendly and that's the main thing."
Mr Horn said his work had attracted interest from Iran.
Refineries like his also produce oils for cooking and cosmetics as well
Coconut power is not new in Bougainville.
The island endured years of civil unrest in which thousands of people
were killed in a fight for independence in the 1990s. Dwindling supplies
of diesel forced islanders to look for alternatives and the coconut was
In peacetime, new technology is propelling this sweet-smelling industry
to greater heights.