Critique / comparison of bio fuels / jatropha / with other energy options – wind etc

I think Haiti needs Jatophra like it needs another earthquake

I’m sure they would much rather have a little help to rebuild their lives, housing and infrastructure;- notably absent from all the international organisations and charities.
They are more likely to need Food.
Food and Water? – a seawater Greenhouse ?.
For Energy – a windfarm would produce much more energy per sqkm – and use the land to grow food as well !. I think there is a good amount of sunshine as well !

From Wiki
Estimates of Jatropha seed yield vary widely, due to a lack of research data, the genetic diversity of the crop, the range of environments in which it is grown, and Jatropha’s perennial life cycle. Seed yields under cultivation can range from 1,500 to 2,000 kilograms per hectare, corresponding to extractable oil yields of 540 to 680 litres per hectare (58 to 73 US gallons per acre). Time Magazine recently cited the potential for as much as 1,600 gallons of diesel fuel per acre per year

I have worked out Sugar Cane below for comparison

More about Biofuels
Growing Biofuels uses Land, which could otherwise be used to grow food or trees.
Consumption of grown Biofuels actually emits more CO2 than conventional Fossil Fuels.

A World Bank policy research working paper released in July 2008 concluded that “…large increases in biofuels production are the main reason behind the steep rise in global food prices “. Diverting farmland or crops for biofuels production is in detriment of the food supply on a global scale.
Growing Biofuels does therefore increase CO2 emissions, depletes the forests, creates food shortages, and leads towards world-wide poverty and starvation.

More Rain forest has to be cut down to grow the food. But 1 Acre of Forest can grow more food than a field full of crops which would replace it.

The OECD has said biofuels may “offer a cure that is worse than the disease they are seeking to heal”.
“The current push to expand the use of biofuels is creating unsustainable tension that will disrupt world markets without generating significant environmental benefits.”
“When such impacts as soil acidification, fertilizer use, biodiversity loss and toxicity of agricultural pesticides are taken into account, the overall environmental impacts of ethanol and biodiesel can very easily exceed those of petrol and mineral diesel.”

Bio figures
Growing Sugar Cane in Brazil produces 4000 litres of Ethanol per Hectare per year. Say 100 GJ gross, which may produce 40 GJ of useful energy per hectare per year. or jus 1 GWhr/sqkm.
Many other “Fuel Crops” including Jatopha are even less productive.

A wind farm at only 5 MW/sqKm with 3000 FLH would produce 15 GWHr/sqKm = 540 GJ per Hectare, and the land could also be used for growing Food.
A PV Solar Park like Waldpolenz in Germany (allowing only 1000 FLH/year ) generates 40,000 MWHr on 220 Hectares, 18 GWHr/km2, about 650 GJ/Ha.
The SEGS parabolic trough solar thermal plants in the California Mojave Desert, generate 650,000 MWHr on a total area of 6.5 km2, 100 GWHr/km2, about 3600 GJ/Ha.
Offshore Wind in the UK can generate 10 MW/km2 with 3000 FLH/yr for 30 GWHr/km2

Wind and Solar together could produce 4000 GJ per Hectare per year of useful energy.

In conclusion, there is no justification for growing Bio-fuels, either on environmental or economic grounds.

Bio Packaging
Berenty (Madegascar) sits amid a giant sisal plantation and you drive for about 20 minutes through these fields before reaching the tourist facilities and lodge. Sisal is an exotic catcus that was introduced for its value as a fiber. Sisal production has climbed in recent years to do the demand for biogradable packaging. Thus an unintended result of the adoption of more environmentally friendly packaging is the destruction of this endemic ecosystem.
Traditionally used for rope and twine, sisal has many uses, including paper, cloth, wall coverings and carpets, and also dartboards.
Extraction of fibre uses only a small percentage of the plant.
The sisal plantations replaced native forests.

Thanks but No Thanks

 Chris L

Raffa says:

 

Hey hey… calm down…

Not this easy… surely biofuel for EU transport was a silly idea, but
the biofuel world is big and diversified.
I was part of a couple of projects COMPETE (EU) and PISCES (DFID,
still going) looking at use of biofuel for poor communities and the
results are quite clearly encouraging. There is no silver bullet and
I’m not interested in D1 money making models… so let’s rule out
these ways of looking at the world as a very first step and consider
now whether or not a crop such as Jatropha could be beneficial for
Haiti.

I’m a scientist, not a journalist, so I can’t say simply yes, it’s
good….. because it’s too early… Jatropha plantations are getting
now to the point of producing seeds and it will take years before
research can tell us the “how much”
On the other hand, Haiti’s bare hills could hugely benefit from a
resistant crop, which can improve the soil, reduce the wash out to the
sea each time the rains come, and produce some oil.
Jatropha survives harsh climate, to get good yield you need good soil
and water.. but to get some, you don’t…. all gets down to what your
business model is. I met a cooperative of women in Uganda, very happy
to harvest the seeds in the patches of land that were given to them,
press manually and sell to the market… it is good money (problem
was, they couldn’t sell most of the oil directly but had to give it
back to the owner of the land).

Jatropha oil can be used directly in generators… Bosh has designed a
cookstove running on Jatropha and lanterns are also a option (instead
of kerosene, sure solar is even better for lighting… not for cooking
though… and cooking is your  highest need for energy if you’re in
the bottom billion).

Haiti uses charcoal to cook and to run most of its semi-industrial
activities. Haiti has quite a bit of land which was used for sugar
plantations and have been abandoned… could be used for ethanol,
which also is perfect for cooking and lots of other things.
I’ve seen wind turbines rusting… solar panels…. you ask the people
what was that… they tell you the name of the NGO who did it… NGO
comes NGO goes…. if you want an extensive analysis of why projects
fail and/or succeed, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

I doubt food is what Haitians need, when I was there… farmers were
penalized by the Food for work program dumping international rice onto
the local markets… a good way to kill regional business… the
heartquaque  hit PauP not the rice
fields…

Raffaella

Neil Crumpton says;

Dave,
A useful collection of factoids
I notice in the DECC 2050 Pathways consultation (page 241) that in one scenario (Level 4) CSP electricity imports to UK are 140 TWh/y and yield is about 7 km2 per TWh/year (assumed Sahara).  DESERTEC says about the same.
Pathways (probably D Mackay) says CSP yield is :  15 W/m2 see text below. It then says ‘project area’ for 140 TWh/y imports would require about 1,000 km2 (two thirds the area of greater London) and requiring 20 GW HVDC inter-connector capacity.
This CSP yield scales up to 150 kW /ha    or 15 MW / km2    or 130 GWh / year /km2     or (1 MWh = 3.6 GJ)    470,000 GJ / year / km2 for Saharan CSP.
This yield is 30% more than the figure quoted for the SEGS CSP schemes in the Mojave desert – which could well be reasonable due to 20 years of development !  For example, the new ‘Mulk’ curved aluminium sheet CSP mirror technology may achieve and maintain higher elec efficiencies than conventional glass troughs due to greater curvature > higher steam temp to turbines (500+ C), scratch-resistance, cleaning and easier maintenance generally (and lower capital costs all round).
http://www.mulkre.com/download/ASCM.pdf
Note  – the aluminium sheets are rolled tight fro transport to site then the  mirrors can be rolled into shape by machine on-site !!
Its good to see DECC actually including such biggish CSP (and offshore wind) scenarios in their consultations !
I note Raffa’s points about horses for courses and jatropha has good capabilities in specific areas, cultures and local economies. As regards large scale biomass in (largely empty) desert area then algae production in bio-reactors (maybe in Seawater Greenhouses ? ) looks very promising (without the death-kiss of GMO strains) :  http://www.water.rutgers.edu/Educational_Programs/Senior%20Design2008/Algae%20to%20Energy%20Report.pdf
The bio-oil yields appear to be 1 TWh/y of bio-(algae)oil for an area around 6 km2 !  That’s assuming my maths below is correct (there is a typo ‘e9’ in the paper which got me for two hours !)
If bio-reactor oil yield is 1 TWh/year per 6 km2, or anything like that, it would rival CSP (noting oil conversion losses if converted) …. AND NO need for HVDC links to be negotiated  – western Australia to UK no (relative) problem…….

 
Neil

 

Context
…Concentrated solar power uses mirrors or lenses to focus sunlight. It has an electricity generation capacity of around 15 W/m2 and is considered as a ‘proven’ technology. It is around five times more efficient per square meter than wind and over twice as efficient as tidal stream.
Level 4
…Therefore, to import 140 TWh per year, the UK’s share of the international project would need to occupy an area of around 1,000 km2 – that is roughly equivalent to two thirds of the area of Greater London. A significant grid infrastructure in Europe would need to be constructed with a UK interconnector of an additional 20 GW designated for electricity imports.
——–
Bio-oil from algae cultivated in bio-reactors  – my calculations using the papers weird unit figures (eg acres ) :
Oil yield is estimated at 50 % by weight of algal biomass so 1.04 mt of algal biomass is required to produce 5.22 e8 kg of oil ( 0.522 mt )  one figure is out by factor of 10 but comes right again next line – typo ?- the final figure is correct
The algal biomass requires a land area of 8,400 acres (3,400 Ha 34 km2) or  to produce 0.522 mt bio-(algae)oil ( 2.345 e10 MJ/year or 6.5 TWh/y).  This production requires 3,400 hectares (1 acre = 0.404685642 hectares).
Rounding to nearest figures 34 km2 per 0.522 mt bio-(algae)oil scales up to 1 million tonnes of bio-(algae)oil per 65 km2 of bio-reactor, containing 12.45 TWh/y.
1 TWh/y of bio-oil would require 5.22 km2  (12.45 / 65) possibly more (eg 6 km2) including production (eg pumping, fertilizers, etc) and processing energy (eg oil-extraction, refining, CCS)

On 7 Sep 2010, at 01:31, Dave Elliott wrote:
energy-discussion-group@googlegroups.com writes:
Growing Sugar Cane in Brazil produces 4000 litres of Ethanol per Hectare per year. Say 100 GJ gross, which may produce 40 GJ of useful energy per hectare per year. or jus 1 GWhr/sqkm.
Many other “Fuel Crops” including Jatopha are even less productive.
A wind farm at only 5 MW/sqKm with 3000 FLH would produce 15 GWHr/sqKm = 540 GJ per Hectare, and the land could also be used for growing Food.
A PV Solar Park like Waldpolenz in Germany (allowing only 1000 FLH/year ) generates 40,000 MWHr on 220 Hectares, 18 GWHr/km2, about 650 GJ/Ha.
The SEGS parabolic trough solar thermal plants in the California Mojave Desert, generate 650,000 MWHr on a total area of 6.5 km2, 100 GWHr/km2, about 3600 GJ/Ha.
Offshore Wind in the UK can generate 10 MW/km2 with 3000 FLH/yr for 30 GWHr/km2
Wind and Solar together could produce 4000 GJ per Hectare per year of useful energy.

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