Thursday, March 27, 2008

[PBN] PNG: Coconut oil bio-fuel on the agenda


A workshop was held on Biofuels at the National Fisheries College in
Kavieng, Papua New Guinea. Below is their press statement.

Between Monday 17 and Wednesday 19 March, the National Fisheries College
(NFC) in Kavieng, New Ireland, hosted the inaugural Coconut Oil Biofuel
Symposium. The symposium brought together key stakeholders from the
public and private sector to share experiences with using coconut oil
fuel and to develop strategies to promote the sustainable development of
associated technologies in Papua New Guinea.

In recent years the rising price of diesel fuel has acted as a major
barrier to the access to rural power and affordable transport, both on
land and at sea. In response a number of private practitioners have
successfully begun using locally produced coconut oil as a diesel
substitute. These innovators have encouraged Government, development
organizations, business and private operators to investigate and adopt
the technology as a development mechanism.

The symposium was co-sponsored by the National Fisheries Authority (NFA)
and PNG Sustainable Energy Limited (PNG SEL). Both organisations are
actively involved in developing coconut oil biofuel projects within the
country and believe these technologies can improve rural livelihoods by
reducing dependence on imported and increasingly more expensive diesel fuel.

The symposium was initiated at the direction of NFA Managing Director,
Sylvester Pokajam, to encourage collaboration of key stakeholders and
share information between groups involved in coconut oil biofuel
development and production. "We are all working towards a common goal of
developing these technologies to improve the livelihoods of rural Papua
New Guineans. If we all work together we can work more effectively,"
said Mr Pokajam.

The keynote speaker at the event was Steven Hobbs, a biofuel expert from
Australia, who provided a wealth of technical advice and practical
instruction. Mr Hobbs was sponsored to attend the symposium by the
regional EU DEVFISH project, which has also supported trials of engine
conversion kits supplied from Australia.

Other key participants included: Project Support Services from Lae, who
supply a range of coconut oil processing equipment and appropriate
technology machinery; Buka Metal Fabricators, who have been operating
gensets and vehicles on coconut oil for more than four years; Copra
Cocoa Institute (CCI), Madang; University of Technology (Unitech), Lae;
Maritime Safety Authority, and; representatives from NFA and PNG SEL.
The symposium also provided a forum to review strategies for
participating in the Sustainable Energy Financing Project (SEFP). The
SEFP is a World Bank initiative comprising a US$9.48 million GEF grant
that aims to significantly increase the adoption and use of renewable
energy technologies within PNG and other Pacific island countries.
The SEFP will provide affordable financing options for users that wish
to purchase renewable energy technologies. PNG SEL is the implementing
agency for the SEFP in PNG and is preparing the product catalogue for
individuals to select the most appropriate technology. For businesses, a
satisfactory business plan will be required before the business can

PNG SEL is currently operating a small coconut oil biofuel project on
the Aroma Coast of Central Province and has more biofuel projects in
design phase. Peter Martin, the CEO of PNG SEL, was highly encouraged by
the outcomes of the symposium and the future direction the biofuel
network. "The symposium was a fantastic initiative and PNG SEL will
continue to work with local partners to develop commercial biofuel
projects and to support the SEFP as the implementing agency," said Mr

The first two days of the symposium primarily consisted of presentations
by the various event participants, generally covering the technical
aspects of coconut oil production, processing and utilisation in diesel
engines. This was complimented with a site visit to the NFA's coconut
oil biofuel processing facility in Kavieng, which has been processing
approximately 800 litres per day, most of which has been used to fuel
marine vessels. The third day consisted of group discussions and
workshops to develop strategies to increase availability of coconut oil

The NFA coconut oil facility was initiated over a year ago to explore
fuel alternative opportunities for fishing vessel operation and to
stimulate coastal community copra production as an alternative cash
income to over fishing the beche de mer fishery. "I'm often asked why
the NFA is involved in coconut oil biofuel," said Mr Pokajam. "It is
primarily due to the spiralling cost of diesel and its impact on
commercial fisheries economic viability. At the same time, we can see
real value for rural communities from revitalising the copra industry."

Source: Matt Carr mattjcarr (at)
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