Palm oil BMP: Increasing the use of renewable energy

Waste and effluent from palm oil processing can be used as a source of renewable energy.

Using solid wastes

When solid wastes from processing palm oil cannot be recycled as fertilizer for oil palm plantations, they can be burned as a source of energy to reduce the amount of non-renewable energy sources imported to plantations and mills.

Putting methane to use

A palm oil mill processing 60 metric tonnes of fresh oil palm fruit per hour is capable of producing about 20,000 cubic meters of biogas (methane) per day, enough to generate about 1,000 kilowatts of electricity. This should be captured and used as a fuel rather than released into the atmosphere.

While methane often is not cost-effective as a substitute for diesel within the plantation operation itself, it can substitute for natural gas, especially when bought in small quantities by workers and used for cooking.

Solar power & other biomass

In addition, solar power and other biomass sources should be explored in lieu of importing fuels to oil palm plantations. Whether such alternatives are acceptable often depends on the cost of fuel.

Source: Adapted from "World Agriculture & Environment" Clay (2004)

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