Jatropha is a perennial which can harm animals. But it can also create biofuel. Hong Kong-invested Shenyu New Energy sees the lush green shrub as a great moneymaker, with the potential to generate $59 million in annual sales.
China, the world’s second largest oil importer, aims to include 2 million tons of biodiesel in its annual fuel consumption by 2020.
According to a report issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China’s annual crude oil demand is forecast to be more than 400 million tons this year and increase to 563 million tons by 2020.
By 2008, Shenyu had 49,445 acres of jatropha in the province of Yunnan. The company hopes to develop 82,410 acres of the shrub in 2010, Gou said. To help reach that target, Shenyu has enlisted 320 households in the Yunnan town of Yongxing to plant 3,303 acres of jatropha.
Each jatropha seed produces 30 to 40% of its mass in oil, which can be processed to produce biodiesel for diesel-running cars. The remaining residue can be further processed as biomass feedstock to power electricity plants or as fertilizer.
Shenyu is building a $9.5 million jatropha oil processing plant expected to be online by the middle of this year. Initially, the factory will produce 3,000 tons of biodiesel annually although it has the capacity to to handle 100,000 tons.
UPI.com reports that if China could transform 12.4 million acres of the country’s wasteland into jatropha plantations by 2020, the country’s biofuel production could replace 40% of the current global aviation jet fuel demand.