Biodiesel, China, Jatropha

Jatropha Under Scrutiny in China

September 13, 2007 (gokunming.com) Experts at an oils and fats conference in Guangzhou yesterday issued words of caution to China and other energy-thirsty developing countries about the viability of the woody oilseed plant jatropha as an ingredient in biofuels, according to a Reuters report.As part of China’s Green Poverty Reduction Program, jatropha farms in northeast Yunnan, southeast Sichuan and northwest Guizhou will be expanded from 27,000 hectares of trees to 270,000 hectares for the purpose of using jatropha oil in biofuel. This area shared by the three provinces is an arid mountainous region suitable to the plant, which is African in origin.

Jatropha was criticized at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil for producing toxic nuts and leaves which require special treatment by farmers. Special crushing facilities are also necessary to manage the toxic vapor produced in processing the plant’s nuts. The plant’s labor-intensive production, unstable harvesting schedule and varying yields also raised concern.

One unnamed participant in the conference said it was hoping to secure investment by year-end to build one of the planet’s first large-scale jatropha-focused biodiesel plants in Yunnan.

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