Biofuels: Nigeria ahead in feedstock technology
Increasing, every nation has come to understand that Biofuels is an ‘explorable’ alternative source for fossil fuels. But the fears regarding what the food security would be, still stares at policy makers. In the article, UGOCHUKWU CHIMEZIRI evaluates Nigeria Biofuels technology as against those of other nations.
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992. The treaty was intended to achieve” stabilization of green gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The Kyoto Protocol establishes legally binding commitments for the reduction of four green house gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, and two groups of gases (hydro fluorocarbon and per fluorocarbons) produced by industrialized nations, as well as general commitments for all members countries.
Under Kyoto, industrialized countries agreed to reduce their collective GHG emissions by 5.2 per cent compared to the year 1990. National limitations range from eight per cent reductions for the European Union and some others to seven per cent for the United States, six per cent for Japan, and 0 percent for Russia. The treaty permitted GHG emission increases of eight per cent for Australia and 10 per cent for Iceland. Kyoto includes what it called flexible mechanism such as Emissions Trading, the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation to allow industrialized economies to meet their greenhouse gas emission reduction s credits from elsewhere, through financial exchanges, projects that reduce emissions in non –industrialized economies, from other industrialized countries with excess allowances. In practice this means that developing economies have no GHG emissions restrictions, but have financial incentives to develop GHG emission reduction projects to receive what is called carbon credits that can then he sold to industrialized buyers, encouraging sustainable development.
In addition, these flexible mechanisms allow industrialized nations with efficient, low GHG-emitting industries, and high prevailing environmental standards to purchase carbon credits on the world market instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions domestically, Developed countries typically will want to acquire carbon credits as cheaply as possible, while developing ones want to maximize the value of carbon credits generated from their domestic Greenhouse Gas Projects.
Membership of Kyoto protocol
As of 2008,183 parties have ratified the protocol, which was initially adopted for use on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan and which entered into force on 16 February 2005.
Among the industrialized signatories, all nations have established Designated National Authorities to manage their greenhouse gas portfolios countries including Japan, Canada Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain and others are actively promoting government carbon funds, supporting multilateral carbon funds intent on purchasing carbon credits from developing countries like Nigeria.
The objective is to achieve “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous gas interference with the climate system.
Biofuels in Nigeria
The position of Nigeria on Biofuels has been made firm with the technological breakthrough which the Global Biofuels Limited, a Nigerian Biofuels producing pioneer made in 2008.
One challenge which has remained impregnable against the Biofuels initiative has been that it would threaten food security. This has led to unrests in various nations including those of the South America where the concept was first invented. The usage of such food and cash based crops as cassava, soy bean, maize, corn, palm produce amongst others has formed topical issues of discussion and have faulted such Biofuels technologies.
Currently, Ethiopia has made up its mind to switch to Biofuels but same problem that hunted earlier nations that went into the initiative also is hunting Ethiopia. The people have been worried about what the faith of food security would be in that country by the time the technology kicks off.
But Ethiopia has no option as the global financial crisis has contributed in making situation worse considering high oil import bills. Apart from the first reason, Ethiopia is also concerned about the depletion of the ozone layer of which consumption of fossil fuels contributes significant potions to it. Ethiopia government must convince the citizens who need emergency food prices. The nation is also reviving from grim memories of 1984-1985 famine, which killed more than one million citizens.
However, the feed stock Ethiopia is going to use may not be 100 per cent food friendly. This is because the nation would use castor beans and palm plantations. Compared to the use of sweet sorghum stalk which Nigerian Global Biofuels intends to use, food security would rather receive a boost while waste would even be converted to wealth in Nigeria than Ethiopia.
“Imagine a farmer of sorghum in Nigeria who used to burn or pay to dispose sorghum stalks after harvest would now be paid to have him accept to dispose his stalk sounds unrealistic but that is the face of Nigerian technology for Biofuels, Mani James, Frost & Sullivan Programmed Manager said.
“Thus, Global Biofuels Limited has devised an innovative solution to the feedstock controversy (food vs. fuel) in Africa by using sweet sorghum and safflower, while other companies use cassava and corn, both of which are staple foods,” he also said.
This had been amazing attracting attention globally on how Nigeria through Global Biofuels discovered this unique technique.
“The company will also produce bio-diesel from safflower, (an oilseed crop not used for food) to power industries and electric power generators, of which Nigeria is the largest consumers worldwide,” he added.
In Ghana, jatropha has been researched to be the crop for the Biofuels. Although jatropha is not a food crop, civil society feels that jatropha will soon overtake the production of other food based crops because more farmland would be donated to the cultivation of jatropha. Meanwhile, Ghana has been battling to develop the initiative but has been threatened by the claims of the civil society on food.
In Nigeria, sweet sorghum has a wide range of applications. Apart from the brewery industry, it can be formulated for infant and adult food. Sorghum is also cash based crop in Nigeria, fetching millions every year for those exporting it aside citizens in the north that consume it in various menus. Even with more cultivation of sorghum, more families would be economically empowered since the grain is not a feedstock for the biofules production but the stalk which has in the past constituted a challenge to the farmer.
This Nigerian technology which has won the prestigious Frost & Sullivan Award as best Sub Saharan Africa in 2008 would not let the stalk continue another waste after the sweet liquid has been extracted but would convert it as bagasse with which independent electricity is generated. It is an all-profit and win-win initiative for Nigeria,”Dr Felix Obada, Group Managing Director of Global Biofuels Limited said.
“This ensures that the company is self sufficient in power generation for its use, while the balance is sold to the national grid to generate additional revenue,” James remarked. ”The company is in partnership with the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Praj Industries Ltd India and the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) Samaru to ensure that the optimal cultivar of sweet sorghum is used.”
Other economic importance of the Nigerian technology
At least 58,000 labour employments would be created by this initiative in Nigeria from 2009 when production is anticipated would commence.
Global Biofuels’ production is expected to commence with an initial production capacity of 27 million litres per year of biofuels and 30 million per annum of biodiesel. This equates to three per cent of the total Nigerian transport fuel market in 2009. Global Biofuels Limited’s capacity is expected to increase to 600 million litres per annium by 2014, a significant increase in market share to 66.67 per cent, thereby making it a dominant market participant.
By this time, it would be difficult having restiveness in the Niger Delta as the tension in the oil rich deltas would have died down following a shift to the new energy alternative. Importance, this energy according to scientist is cleaner to both human health and the environment and would help protect the ozone layer which fossil fuel has destroyed. While this would be the case from 2009, allied industries would spring to provide service to the Biofuels refineries, thus lending a helping hand to the development of fabrication engineering and technology in Nigeria. Already, Global Biofuels, the Nigeria leader in Biofuels has been in the laboratory researching for new invention aimed at guaranteeing at all time food and environmentally friendly initiative in Biofuels production.
Another area which would sound interesting is that by this initiative, Global Biofuels qualifies as a seller of carbon credit contained in the Kyoto protocol. The initiative alone is reducing unwanted green house gase in the atmosphere and so the industrialized world would pay money to Nigeria to buy credit for reducing heir emissions.
Agriculture would receive a boom. Today, the government is talking about the commercial agriculture but it is impossible to commercialize agriculture without first mechanizing it. Global Biofuels has concluded with Bushle Farmers Academy (BFA) of South African who are coming to do practice mechanized farming in Nigeria.
Obviously there would be knowledge ad technology transfer by the time the come to farm for Global Biofuels. State and federal government can benefit from the BFA through Global Biofuels.
Global position on Biofuels
Currently, the debate on what Biofuels will do to the food security is beginning to wane with energy requirement biting harder. Although every nation is now well informed about the need for impeccable research work on how to get away with Biofuels without having to cause much harm to the food security.
That is why so much effort is being geared toward selecting a feed stock that would not create problem in the food chain. However, the world is having so many problems from the depletion going on in the earth as a result of fossil emission and other similar carbons and so looking for a way out is indispensable.
82 per cent of Americans are in favour of government’s support for the developments of Biofuels say a new survey released recently by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).”that is the most remarkable part of the survey”, Brent Erickson, executive vice president for BIO’s industrial and environmental engineering section said noting that it show that Americans understand how important it is for them to diversify their energy sources.
On the other hand, the European Union has launched an ambitious policy aiming at increasing the use of Biofuels in land transport with a view to contributing to objectives such as meeting climate change commitments, environmentally friendly security of supply and promoting renewable energy sources.
Another motivation, at least for some member states, is that the development of provide larger outlet for domestic farm product and new employment opportunities in rural areas and make future adjustment of the common agricultural policy of easier.
The EU policy of support to energy crops, tax exemption for Biofuels and mandatory incorporation target in some member states, has result in a significant increase in the demand and supply of Biofuels.
In the meantime, Nigeria has not been surpassed by any other nation in terms of inventing a more sustainable Biofuels technology feed stock. With the global food and financial crisis waging tails similar to what Nigeria will stand.
It is also pertinent to note that Global Biofuels has secure over 30,000 hectare of land for the feedstock and has also secured the interest of many state of the federation on the development of this initiative