Having made little effort to hide his disdain for the Live Earth concerts, Bob Geldof has instead decided to take on climate change by throwing his considerable weight behind several renewable energy projects in Africa. In doing so, Geldof has joined forces with a British energy company, Helius Energy, which is pinning its hopes on the jatropha curcas plant's oil-rich seeds.
The jatropha plant, an ancient bush that grows all across the continent, makes seeds that, once dried and crushed, yield an oil that can be used to run diesel engines. "Power through renewable energies is and will be a major tool for developing countries, particularly for rural populations," said Geldof at a recent news conference. "The potential is enormous, i think it will be extraordinary if the model is replicated in other parts of Africa, it will have life-changing effects."Helius Energy hopes to get two jatropha-powered electricity generation plants, a large 50-65 MW one and a smaller 5 MW one, up and running in the next few years. It plans on first building a 65 MW pilot plant in the U.K. that will be powered by various biomass sources, including wood, oilseed cake and spent grains.
"Every hectre of Jatropha Curcas can produce 2.7 tons of oil and about 4 tons of biomass. Every 8,000 hectare of the plant can run a 1.5 megawatt station, enough to power 2,500 homes," said Alex Worral, CEO of Helius Energy, who formed a partnership with African energy company D1 Oils to undertake this ambitious project.
The first power station will be built in Swaziland and should be able to provide electricity within three years.
Via ::Planet Ark: Geldof Lends Voice to Green Electricity for Africa (news website)