Our candidates are on a worldwide mission to analyze, understand and discover the richness of energy and environment activities. Like all GDF SUEZ employees, they are committed to responsible energy.
currently in France
currently in France
Le coprah, une ressource d’avenir pour Unelco
Coconuts and electricity…you can’t see the link? This note should enlighten you!
From coconut to electricity
Let’s start with a short reminder of the contents of a coconut.
The dried flesh of the coconut is called copra. It is of little use in itself except to feed livestock. Its main utility is its richness in oil, used in cooking, cosmetics and soap-making.
Copra oil can be used as fuel instead of petroleum in power plants to provide electricity. Since it is denser than petroleum, it has to be heated to 60°C before being injected into engines. In contrast, the calorific content of copra is less than that of fossil fuels, so more needs to be used to generate the same amount of electricity.
To understand the copra network better, and above all to find out how it works on the ground, we offer you a report from Malikolo, where Alizés Energies (Vanuatu) Ltd) produces copra oil for the Unelco plant.
We have seen that petroleum is the fuel Unelco uses most to generate electricity, so there is a genuine dependency on this black gold. To prevent an increase in price being passed on to the customer’s energy bill, Unelco wants to improve its energy mix, in particular through biofuels.
Coco-fuel, a biofuel from a mix of copra oil and petroleum, is recognized by the Kyoto protocol as a renewable energy source. Although copra oil combustion generates greenhouse gases (“GHG”), it does so far less than petroleum. Whether burnt or left under the coconut palm until it rots, the CO2 content of the coconut will be dispersed into the atmosphere one way or another. What is more, coconut plantations are located near the oil mills and power plants, significantly reducing the energy needed to transport the fuel. Lastly, the refining stages which are essential for petroleum, and which result in considerable GHG emissions, are not required for copra oil.
AEV’s and Unelco’s growing interest in copra should allow a significant increase in demand for this raw material and stimulate local employment*. Vanuatu is one of the leading producer countries and obtains 30-50% of its export revenues from copra. At present, a large majority of oil production is exported thanks to its high price on international markets.
The entry of GDF SUEZ subsidiaries into the local market should also make it possible to provide a stable price to suppliers over the long term, independent of financial market fluctuations.
The Energy Tellers
* In Vanuatu, 80% of the population (200,000 inhabitants) live from agriculture. Subsistence farming represents 2/3 of production; the rest is commercial agriculture.