Small Islands Voice Global Forum
Pacific islands showing the way with coconut oil
The debate about using coconut oil as an alternative to diesel continues and concludes with a call for the sharing of information between the Pacific islands and islands in other regions of the world about the use of coconut oil.
David Williams from Jamaica (Caribbean) writes: First off, I was amazed to find out that coconut oil could be used to replace diesel fuel......but I am confused in that with the price of coconut oil here (Jamaica) how can that be competitive to the price of diesel fuel? Or is it only used in places where you cannot get diesel? A friend of mine produces coconut oil and his main complaint is that he simply cannot get enough coconuts to supply his needs. The market here is more geared to coconut water, and finding dried coconuts is getting to be difficult; combined with the fight against disease in the trees, I can't see it being a workable option for Jamaica.
We live on islands where the most noticeable product is coconuts, but until recently almost no vehicles here used coconut fuel, writes Giff Johnson, Marshall Islands Journal, 2nd September 2005 (Pacific). But that’s changed dramatically since late 2004. Following experiments over the last three years, with Tobolar Copra Processing Plant’s vehicles using coconut oil as a substitute for diesel fuel, Pacific International Inc. has moved its entire fleet of heavy equipment vehicles and its many ocean-going vessels to the cheaper and cleaner coconut oil fuel. And with Tobolar selling coconut oil at about US$2 a gallon – compared to the price of diesel, which has hit US$3.50 a gallon at local gas stations – there’s been a significant money saving.
Harvie Probert from Fiji (Pacific) writes: Currently the Fiji Electricity Authority in Fiji are testing a larger 3.3Mw Cat engine running on coconut oil at their Sigatoka power station and are looking at that and other biofuels (fuels from biological materials such as crops, animal wastes) as an alternative to diesel. With diesel at over $900/ tonne, biofuels at up to $700 are a workable replacement. On a recent survey to one of the remotest Fiji islands, Rotuma, it was observed that the island had the potential to use the coconuts lying around to displace almost entirely the need to import diesel, as the production available locally was estimated at about 2,000 tonnes per year of copra, which would produce around 1,600 tonnes of coconut oil, and if refined into biodiesel would produce around 1,500 tonnes.
Ulrike Hertel provides a further example from Samoa (Pacific): The Samoa Electric Power Corporation is presently having a trial to use 15% locally produced coconut oil to mix with 85% diesel in some power generators. So far, they have had good results, also, with the present diesel prices, the oil is cheaper.
Albert DeTerville writes: I am an indigenous person from St. Lucia (Caribbean) where coconut oil is extracted for cooking and for other domestic use. The island exports coconut oil in large quantities. Given that St. Lucia is one of the SIDS (small island developing States), and having regard to the fact that coconut oil is already in use in the Pacific SIDS as fuel for vehicles, I propose that there be a exchange programme among the SIDS. The SIDS 2005 Mauritius Initiative, formed as a follow-up to the United Nations SIDS Conference in Mauritius in January 2005, has focal points in the SIDS regions, and is interested in collaborating with interested partners in the promotion of coconut oil as fuel for vehicles.
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