Small Islands Voice Global Forum
From frying oil to car fuel
As global oil prices rose in 2005, this forum ran a discussion about the use of alternative fuels in small islands. You responded with many different examples of how islands were beginning to substitute biofuel (fuel produced from organic matter such as plants) for oil to run cars, trucks and electricity generating plants. Examples ranged from coconut oil in Vanuatu to bagasse (waste material from sugar production) in Fiji. In case you missed this discussion, all the messages can be seen at http://www.unesco.org/csi/smis/siv/Forum/coconut-comp.htm.
In the year since this discussion, innovative entrepreneurs in small islands around the world are investigating and trying out alternative energy sources. For example, if you visit Maui in Hawaii, you will have the opportunity of renting a bio-beetle, a car run on used cooking oil. The company has around 12 diesel-powered rental cars available in Maui. If you rent one of these cars, then instead of buying diesel fuel from the regular service station, biodiesel in the form of used cooking oil is available at an outlet in the main city, Kahului. Perhaps most significantly the biodiesel is around US$1 per gallon cheaper than regular diesel – although this difference varies with the market price of diesel. Used cooking oil is collected from restaurants in Maui and also from some of the visiting cruise ships.
Comments from a recent car renter showed that the biodiesel (used cooking oil) is light in colour and has very little smell, not at all like a conventional fuel, and that the car performed well, just like a normal diesel powered car.
Biodiesel in Maui provides users with the opportunity to use recycled fuel, to contribute to making the environment cleaner by reducing emissions of harmful substances, and to save money. More information is available at www.bio-beetle.com and www.biodiesel.com.
Do you have some new information about ways in which your island is using alternative fuels? If so, please send it to us, so we can share it with islanders around the world.
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