published: Friday | August 17, 2007
Sabrina Gordon, Business Reporter
Jamaica is now poised to benefit from bilateral arrangements with Brazil
in the area of biodiesel production, which is presenting great
opportunities for farmers of the country.
The establishment of two biodiesel plants is being considered with the
assistance of Brazil that has over 30 years of experience in the
production of fuels.
The arrangement is in the early phase of development, but the
exploration of possible crops for the production of biofuel has already
The oil crops presently being grown in Brazil and identified as possible
options to be used in the production of biodiesel here, include: soya
bean, sunflower, castor bean, cotton seed, peanut - which is used in
rotation with sugar for the production of both ethanol and biodiesel,
jatropha and macaw palm.
It is not certain whether all of these will be compatible with the
Jamaican climate. However, the Scientific Research Council has already
done feasability analysis on one of the proposed crops - castor bean,
but requires further research to determine which variety to plant.
Brazil's main oil source
The oil content of soya bean is about 20 per cent, with a yield of 3,000
kilogrammes per hectare. It is currently the main source of oil in
Brazil. About 34 million tonnes are produced worldwide.
Sunflower's oil content is about 44 per cent of yield, which reaches
1,500 kg per hectare. It can be used for both edible oil and feedstock
meal. Production worldwide is about 10 million tonnes.
A it relates to Castor beans, the oil content is 48 per cent. It yields
2,000 kg per hectare. The plant is suitable for growth on marginal lands
and under extreme weather conditions.
Jatropha's oil content is 38 per cent with a yield of 4,000kg per hactre
and produces inedible oil. Peanut has oil content of 54 per cent and is
an attractive market. It produces both edible oil and can be use as
meal, with mechanical harvesting possible.
Palm has oil content of 22 per cent with yield of 4,200, the highest of
all commercial oil crops. It is however limited to rainy regions with
world production of 36 million tonnes.
The production of biodiesel provides the twin goals of reducing
petroleum import and supporting the country's agricultural sector.
But production of the biofuel will take an integrated approach,
incorporating both the agriculture and fuel industry. The process will
also involve small-scale farmers as an integral partner in the process.
Five key concepts
The production of biodiesel includes five key concepts: verticality,
demand, competition, coordination and leverage. "These concepts are key
to the production process," said Professor Aziz da Silva Jr., who was
speaking at a two-day seminar on biofuels organised by the Petroleum
Corporation of Jamaica and the Brazilian Embassy at the Pegasus hotel on
It is anticipated that the demand for biodiesel will increase over the
next few years, as it can be used both as an end product and for input
in other industries, such as refineries.
Some 500 billion cubic metres of biofuels are produced annually and are
presently sold at US$600 per tonne.
A software - biosoft has been developed to conduct sensitivity, and
scenario analysis to arrive at the most appropriate production levels
using both social and economic indicators.
Brazil's diesel consumption is estimated at 40 billion liters (10.6
billion gallons) per year, with imports accounting for just eight to 10
per cent of consumption.
Check for earlier Pacific Biofuel posts: http://pacbiofuel.blogspot.com/