December 16th, 2007

Y’know, I’m a bit sceptical about biodiesel and other alternative fuels (ethanol being the big one, which is already causing problems). I mean, aren’t we still burning hydrocarbons and churning out carbon dioxide? Well, I suppose the plants raised to produce these fuels count as an offset, and cooking up biodiesel from organic waste is probably better than just dumping it. But still…

Well, it seems that biodiesel, specifically that made from the “diesel tree“, Jatropha, may have other benefits. Well, making alternative fuels in China could help reduce the country’s reliance on imported oil, thereby boosting national energy and economic security, which I suppose is obvious enough.

But this article points out that Jatropha cultivation could also be useful in taming rock desertification and alleviating rural poverty. Jatropha, apparently, is a very adaptable tree which can be planted in poor soils and degraded areas. Presumably this helps improve the local environment (although China’s record on this is, uh, spotty, to say the least), but it also gives local farmers an extra cash crop and apparently can drastically increase their income. And spreading the wealth and development out to the countryside is just what China needs.

I still have my doubts about biodiesel, though, I mean, even if it does measure up to Euro IV, it’s still producing CO2, although there do seem to be offsets built in to the biodiesel system, and if this can improve the economy and environment in poor areas of rural China, then good.

Comments are closed.