Investing in a Jatropha plantation seems to be a bit of a trendy thing right now, I have seen quite a few glossy brochures and flash websites as well as a number of failed projects some of the You Tube comments on this video about Jatropha Plantations are interesting background for anyone thinking about and investment in a Jatropha Plantation.
Why Are You Investing Into A Monoculture Jatropha Plantation?
If you are thinking in investing in a monoculture plantation of Jatropha solely for biofuel feedstock rather than a polyculture plantation which takes care of food and fuel security there may not be any carbon credits and only sustainable Jatropha based fuel can be sold into the aviation industry.
So a good question to ask the sales person selling an investment into Jatropha for biofuel is why have they decided to grow a monoculture Jatropha plantation?
Is The Cost Of Replanting Trees In The Revenue Model For The Jatropha Plantation Investment?
The economic life of Jatropha Curacus Lin is about 25 to 35 years some companies are offering 99 year leases, this would mean that the Jatropha plants would have to be replaced two or three times during the life of the investment into the Jatropha plantation.
To use Jatropha Curacus Lin as a sustainable feedstock to produce bio fuels either biodiesel or bio synthetic parafinic kerosene (Bio SPK) for aviation fuel each Jatropha tree needs 2.5m of space in order to grow to the size where it can produce 9Kg of seed.
9 Kg of Jatropha seed produces 3 litres of Crude Jatropha Oil CJO about 4000 litres per hectare is reasonable from 4 year old Jatropha Curacus plants. These are realistic figures for a monoculture plantation most of the companies I have seen who want you to invest in Jatropha as a green alternative investment are focused more on the Jatropha Oil situation rather than the commercial and environmental advantages for polyculture jatropha plantations.
If you are thinking of investing in Jatropha in Africa intercropping is vital to local food security it is the same local people that will be harvesting your investment, so you want them to be able to eat and Jatropha is inedible 25 Hectares of Monoculture Jatropha plantation can make 100,000 litres of Bio Fuel however 25 Hectares of Polyculture plantation can feed local people and boost the economy being more beneficial for the local people and the investor.
Refining Crude Jatropha Oil into Jatropha Methl Ester is a process that can be easily done by anyone familiar with the basic transesterfication process used to make bio diesel however further refining the crude jatropha oil into Bio SPK for Jatropha based Bio aviation fuel requires a much more complicated cracking process in which only 15% of the Crude Jatropha Oil can be converted into Bio SPK aviation fuel.
Investing in clean technology is a good thing we could all destroy less of the planet and reduce global warming by growing and using biofuels instead of carbon based petro chemicals to power our cars and planes, the most important side of the Jatropha plantation should be the investment into the agriculture and food security of the local people producing the Jatropha which is being sold to provide you with the return on your investment.