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PTT and CP to Develop Palm Biodiesel in Thailand

TNA. PTT Public Company, Thailand’s state-owned oil firm, and Charoen Pokphand Group (CP), a leading agro-industrial and foods conglomerate, have signed an initial agreement for the development, production and promotion of palm-oil biodiesel.

The move is part of the Energy Ministry’s plan to promote the use of alternative energy, according to Anon Sirisaengtaksin, PTT Senior Executive Vice President in charge of Corporate Strategy and Development. PTT is in the process of holding talks with the Treasury Department to lease CP’s 60,000 rai (23,722 acres) of unused land in the South to grow palm trees.

CP will be responsible for the growing process and encouraging farmers to grow palm trees. PTT and CP would jointly set up biodiesl production plants with a capacity of 100,000 liters per day (26,420 gallons US per day or 9.6 million gallons US per year).

The entire project will cost around Bt1-2 billion (US$26.3-52.5 million). The price and volume of palm oil will be closely monitored to prevent shortage in the future, according to PTT.



Does "unused" land mean land which is currently covered in rainforest? If so, clearing it for palm oil production has obvious ecological drawbacks.

While I happen to think that liquid biofuels can contribute significantly towards our short- and medium-term efforts to reduce our petroleum consumption, I also think that we need to be very mindful of the ecological consequences of increased farming activity. The increased energy consumption that goes alone with increased farming activity is only part of that story, and the other elements must not be ignored.


From what i know, "unused" land maybe:

- rain forest(untouched virgin land)
- secondary forest(land were cleared and left for time long enough for trees to grow up)
- grass land with grasses taller then man(land recently cleared, and left unused for 2-3 years)

If it is rain forest, we required much bigger machines to clear the land. If it is the last case, a bulldozer will do the job. Conclusion is before they start planting oil palms, they will need to burn plenty of fossil fuel first.

Then oil palm actually required plenty of fertilizer to maintain a healthy growth. Not only the fertilizer(organic or chemical), we also required energy to transport them and feed them to each of the palm trees in the field. And thus another energy bill.

And not to mention that we actually have to transport the fruits to the mills. Fresh fruit branches are actually very heavy stuff and required heavy vehicles to do the job. And then the mills will produce crude palm oil, and then only the CPO will go to biodiesel refinary.

How many fossil we need to burn before we can get bio?


Planting farms for biodiesel is silly when algae has a much higher yield. Any excess food produced can be used but it makes little sense to not chose the most efficient feedstock for the primary source.


I suspect that algae farming may require more up front money than the country can afford ... so they'll go with something they can readily do.

allen Z

As for water, they are situated in a wet/dry monsoon climate.
___The problem I see is how to forestall a) the further destruction of the rain forests b) contamination of algae production by algae consuming fish/microorganisms.

Robert Schwartz

"If it is rain forest, we required much bigger machines to clear the land. If it is the last case, a bulldozer will do the job. Conclusion is before they start planting oil palms, they will need to burn plenty of fossil fuel first."

Not when you have 250 million people and chronic high unemployment among unskilled and uneducated laborers.

Rafael Seidl

Intensive algae farming to save rainforest acreage would be laudable, but it does require a source of CO2 to enrich the pools. The original NREL study suggested using scrubbed flue gases from coal-fired power stations, with some 90% dissolving in the water.

Note that carbonating water will make it more acidic. The NREL research involved bioprospecting for species that deliver the desired lipids (in that case, the objective was biodiesel) but can also tolerate highly acidic pH conditions. Those would pretty much put paid to Allen's concern about little fishies coming to eat the algae.


IMO, the only problem with that scheme is that the CO2 comes from fossil sources.  Use the enriched-algae scheme to recycle the CO2 from a biofuel system, and you're just about perfect.


Robert: that how we prepare a land in M'sia, not too sure about Thailand. We use machine can do dozens times more job then men and dozens times faster with one man operating the machine. Lets say we need RM20 for an indon worker(cheap labour) per day and 1 week to clear 1 acres, a bulldozer can deal with 10 acres in one day.


Algae farming? Come on guys, even the most developed country here not doing this in industrial scale and stick to soy bean oil and rape seed oil. Be realistic, dont always say something that is not exsist is better.

Algae farming is only good for producing health suppliment. And we have plenty of it. Try convince them to turn to oil production?


If a square meter of algae under plastic can return even a fraction of the energy of a square meter of silicon under glass, it'll be a huge improvement.  Algae have the virtue of being cheap.

Geoff P

Unused land in Southern Thailand is that which has already been denuded for rubber plantations. 60,000 rai is but a speck on the map of millions of rai under rubber trees.

As for algae farms, I dread to think of the destruction that will be caused when this is allowed to run riot like the current spate of fish-farms around Thailand's coasts. There is constant pollution and debilitation of natural fish and shellfish stocks, especially where control is over-ridden by corruption.

'Algae being cheap' is probably the last thing Thailand needs just now.

Robert Schwartz

I love it. The closer an alternative fuel supply that was once touted as green comes to reality the more opposition it gaters from enviromentalists.

It's just like the White Queen said to Alice: ""You couldn't have it if you DID want it," the Queen said. "The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday--but never jam today."


I've lost my link to the NASA system which calculates the annual insolation for points on the map, but that never stopped me from scribbling on envelopes.

A typical PV system may have 16% electric efficiency and cost upwards of $5 per peak watt.  Figuring 900 W/m^2 of sun, that's somewhere over $720/m^2 of collector area.

Suppose that the hypothetical algae system is $7/m^2.  So what if it's only 3% efficient?  It would still collect almost 20 times as much energy per dollar as the PV.  Instead of needing a fraction of a typical house's roof area to meet its needs, it might need the whole thing plus the garage and maybe a bit of the yard.  At $7/m^2, you could cover the whole roof for a thousand bucks.

The roof of a 140 m^2 ranch house in S. California might capture close to 30 kWh over the course of a day, even at 3%; that's most or all of what the house needs.  Relatively small "energy farms" would certainly do the job of powering civilization as we know it.

This environmentalist says, "Bring it on."

no more wars

of course, algae don't need anything other than pure sun energy to grow by denying the laws of conservation of mass and energy and simply not giving a hoot about them because they smoke the hoot pipe, 3% energy appears in the end out of nothing ready to use no questions asked, yesterday is not considered and why not, and it's all in an environmentalist fault list for the day...and so the story goes, says Alice...

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