Here is a different biofuel and a country with a different attitude to biofuels. The US can't grow ITS way out of ITS energy problems but maybe Mali can grow itself to another economic level.
Malian weed brings light to mud-hut villages
Nick Tattersall, May 30, 2007 (Reuters)
Mali’s National Centre for Solar and Renewable Energy, Aboubacar Samake, jatropha program head; Benben Doumbia, 47, village elder; Daouda Doumbia, 53, village elder;
click to enlarge
Off-grid rural Mali is fueling generators with oil from the abundant local jatropha shrub to provide villagers with affordable electricity. Jatropha is NOT a food crop, grows with food crops, repels insects, requires little care or water and prevents erosion. Africa has many potential ethanol and biofuel crops but developing those industries might raise food crop prices and worsen food shortages.
Simiji, Mali, one of 700 villages reached, 12,000 to go.
- New streetlights now serve a mud-brick hut/thatched roof village where villagers once worked fields with the sun and kept home in night’s dark. Generators also power millet grinder and nut husker.
- Seeds of the jatropha plant, previously considered a useless shrub but abundant, can be crushed to produce an oil that will power a government-supplied generator serving 60 families.
- The Mali government’s goal is to make the farmers self-sufficient and independent of oil price fluctuations. Senegal’s President sees Africa as the world's primary supplier of biofuels. India has set aside 1.72 million hectares of land for jatropha cultivation.
Mali(click to enlarge)
- Benben Doumbia: "There is a general satisfaction among the population. The children gather under the lights in the evening and it has limited thefts…Now our activities can continue until 11 o'clock in the evening, whereas before everything stopped at 6. People can visit each other. It has become an instrument of social cohesion…" (translation from the local Bambara language)
- Samake: "To stop the rural exodus in this country you have to start by creating a minimum standard of living…People have to have light, to have cool air, to be able to store vaccines, even to watch national television. As things stand, a snake can bite someone in a village and they have to go to (the capital) Bamako to get a vaccine… We don't intend to produce biofuel to send abroad but to satisfy the energy needs of the 80 percent of Malians who live in rural communities…"
- Daouda Doumbia: "They came to explain the project to us and said that if we grow jatropha it can produce oil to make the machine work…I grow groundnuts and this activity can go alongside it as a partner crop…"
- Fousseyni Doumbia, 12: "We're happy to see light. We can play in the evenings. We can play all night…We can also do our homework…"