２．Minutes for the general discussion
Professor Saka chaired this session, and at first Professor Matsumura summarized three reports and presented the general discussion based on the obtained results and discussions on three approaches, i.e., Thailand (small-scale biomethanation), Indonesia (Jatropha plantation), and China (large-scale ethanol production).
At first, farmer’s standard of living was emphasized. There were mainly two ways to support farmers, i.e., cheap energy supply and increasing income. Small-scale biomethanation in Thailand and Jatropha oil in Indonesia enables farmers to access cheap energy. Moreover, they are also effective for sustainable agriculture due to the reduction of fossil fuel utilization. This utilization may be opportunity one, that is, it compensates needed fossil fuel for the future development. With respect to the increase in income, rural farmers have access to electricity grid in China, but they do not have enough money to buy the electricity. When they grow feedstock for ethanol production and sell it at a high price with the indirect support from the government, they get money for buying electricity. Since those who use ethanol as fuel are richer compared to farmers, this mechanism can be considered as “re-distribution of wealth.” In this case, however, sustainability of their cultivation and competition with food production are to be considered. In terms of improving farmers’ standard of living, all of the three approaches investigated in this project were found to be effective.
Secondly, the following several important aspects were pointed out from the results of the three approaches:
· Accessibility of the biomass plant or biomass collecting site is important;
· In the case of Thai small-scale biomethanation, for instance, its effectiveness is highly evaluated. However, the farmers do not know this technology, and thus the distribution of the technology is quite limited. Education can be an important task that Japan can contribute in the next step;
· For large-scale plantation, biodiversity is to be considered. For ethanol production in China and Jatropha production in Indonesia, the possible land to be used is semi-arid land or the cultivation by intercropping. Consequently, the biodiversity problem can be avoided in these ways;
· The conflict in land use with food production is a large problem. Technology development for ethanol production from lignocellulosic materials is important;
· The technologies to be used should be cheap ones. The farmers are not always rich. Small-scale biomethanation and Jatropha production are desirable for this point.
Finally, Professor Matsumura concluded that the three technologies investigated in this study were all effective for improving farmers’ standard of living. They can be also effective in terms of sustainable agriculture since they lead to the reduction of fossil fuel use in rural areas. However, detailed LCA calculation is needed for Jatropha oil and ethanol production. Sufficient information was not available for Jatropha because the study has just begun. The LCA effectiveness of ethanol production is still controversial all over the world, and the detail study is needed for each case.
Delegate from each country commented on the three reports. The important points of the comments are the following:
· Dr. Lixin Zhao from China showed that bio-ethanol production in China was 1.3 million tons in 2006. Its main feedstock is corn and wheat. Nowadays, 72.8% of corn harvest is used as feedstuff, however, competition of the use of corn for food and energy will be a problem in the near future. In terms of food safety, the use of non-food feedstock such as cassava and sweet sorghum is to be increased.
· Dr. Jin-Suk Lee from Korea proposed that biofuel production from lignocellulosic materials should be carried out as a long-term project. The work requires very extensive investigation activities on many issues. So various organizations in Asian countries should share the role and cooperate to get the fruitful results. By promoting the cooperative work, the real sustainable and balanced development in Asia may be achieved, and he is sure that the work should be beneficial to all countries.
· Professor Tzay-An Shiau from Chinese Taipei expected, considering financial sustainability, the commercialized application of biomass with no subsidies. He hopes that the ABA activities will enhance regional cooperation in Asian countries, not only on the introduction of more advanced technologies with productivity advantage, but also on marketing raw materials between Asian countries.
· Professor Jessie Cansanay Elauria from Philippines emphasized the importance of local assistance and networking to transmit the knowledge and experience. Education to farmers and potential investors should be carried out by the government.
· Dr. Hai Nam Truong from Vietnam understood the usefulness of biomethanation in a rural village. However, diffusion of biogas utilization is not enough. In order to commercialize biomethanation, his opinion is that marketing analysis is necessary.
· Dr. Paritud Bhandhubanyong from Thailand introduced an experience in southern Thailand. There was a bio-diesel production and consumption project whose feedstock was coconut. However, the project was failed because a big bio-diesel company expanded their business and began to sell lower-cost bio-diesel fuel. That is an unfortunate case, however, economical competitiveness should be considered when utilizing small-scale bioenergy within a region.
· Dr. Nuwong Chollacoop from Thailand supplemented the Thai biomethanation study, that is, there are also large-scale, modern, and efficient biomethanation plants in Thailand. Concerning the bio-diesel production from palm oil, standardization is a problem in Thailand because there is not any knowledge among farmers.
· Professor Mohamad Ali Hassan from Malaysia also proposed the application of lignocellulose, showing a Malaysian case in which the utilization of branches after harvest of palm oil is a problem.
· Dr. Nadirman Haska from Indonesia offered the data on cultivation area of crops for fuel production, that is, 1.5 million ha for oil palm in 2 to 3 years and 1.5 million ha for Jatropha in 2010. Cassava and sugarcane for ethanol is to be 1.2 million ha and 0.6 million ha, respectively. Sago palm for ethanol fuel production is planned to be more than 1 million ha.
Dr. Yuyama classified the biomass production, conversion and utilization scale on bioenergy into three bases, i.e., a family (small-scale) basis, a community (medium-scale) basis, and a commercial (large-scale) basis. Biomethanation and Jatropha oil production are relatively easy to be applied to small-scale and medium-scale bases, while the production of ethanol fuel is suitable for a large-scale basis because its economical productivity depends on the scale of the conversion plant.
As a conclusion of the session, Professor Saka emphasized the necessity of LCA from the point of view of sustainability as well as the possibility of competition between food and energy.