Bioenergy project for the reduction of greenhouse gases
EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG and the University of Hohenheim are working together in a pilot project within the “Clean Development Mechanism” (CDM) arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol. The two partners will investigate the viability of sustainable and large-scale cultivation of jatropha plants with the overall goal of reducing greenhouse gases. By working together with the University of Hohenheim and the Hohenheim start-up JatroSolutions GmbH, EnBW has found competent partners for this project. A contract for this particular land use has recently been signed and the first seedlings have been planted on a 3,000-ha plantation. The partners are hoping to increase the cultivation area to 100,000 ha should the project be successful.
“For EnBW, climate protection is of great importance, and we are pursuing a broad range of activities to take account of this. Finding new ways to reduce CO2 levels is another important part of our activities. The bioenergy project complements EnBW’s broad research activities on the reduction of greenhouse gases – starting from power plant technology to fuel cells and to the supply of biogas in Laupheim, Germany,” said Wolfram Münch, head of Research and Development at EnBW.
“Madagascar benefits from the project in many ways, including the utilization of idle resources, the creation of several hundred jobs in an underdeveloped region, the reduced dependence on crude oil imports and positive environmental effects. “We have been made very welcome in Madagascar,” said Prof. Dr. Klaus Becker, director of the Tropical Centre at the University of Hohenheim and CEO of JatroSolutions GmbH, the company which is in charge of the project and provides scientific expertise, along with the University of Hohenheim.
Jatropha, a hardy plant which is resistant to drought and pests, is an oil plant that is endemic to almost all tropical regions of the world. The cultivation of jatropha plants has been promoted in countries such as India, Myanmar and China over the last few years, in particular for the production of fuel. The large-scale cultivation has not yet been investigated systematically. It is also hoped that the new research project will gain new insights into the systematic cultivation of jatropha. The cultivation of jatropha plants for energy production does not compete with areas used for the production of food. The bush does not grow on arable land and is very well suited to growth on poor soils in areas which have suffered from erosion. The eroded area in Madagascar is larger than the entire agricultural cropland in Germany. The plant’s deep roots enable it to grow in areas of poor fertility and survive extensive droughts. The plant cover prevents erosion of soil and helps to gradually restore the fertility of the soil.
CDM pilot project investigates the cultivation of jatropha plants in Madagascar
A major focus of the pilot project is the further investigation of the plant’s CO2-reducing effect. Like other plants during their growth, jatropha plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. However, as the EnBW project cultivates Jatropha on wasteland, there is a net effect of 2.5 tons of CO2 per hectare of cultivated area which are absorbed by the plants, a figure which is continuously increasing. At the same time, the jatropha seeds can be used to produce biodiesel. The reduced usage of fossil diesel fuel will then lead to a reduction of another 2.5 tons CO2 per hectare of cultivated area per year. Another important goal of the demonstration phase, which is about to begin, is to plan the details of the functionality of the “Clean Development Mechanism” and generate emission reduction credits.
The CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) is an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol allowing industrialised countries to purchase emission reduction credits. This means that countries with a greenhouse gas reduction commitment can invest in projects that reduce emissions in threshold and developing countries. The CDM hopes to take into consideration the growing energy demand of developing countries at the same time as giving industrial countries the incentive to invest in emission reduction in developing countries. This could be counted as an alternative to more expensive emission reductions in their own countries, giving them emission reduction credits which correspond to the actual CO2 reductions of the project.
Source: University of Hohenheim - 07.02.2008
Prof. Dr. Klaus Becker, University of Hohenheim,
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