Richard Ha writes:
Big Island Biodiesel had its grand opening last week, and I took a tour of its facility.
I have been a long-time supporter of its business model. It works.
Now, with the help of the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), as well as the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center and others, farmers can start to think about what crops might be profitably grown to make biofuels.
From a Civil Beat article:
Richard Ha, owner of Hamakua Springs Country Farms, who has been a vocal critic of biofuels in the past, was optimistic about the plant.
“They have the best business model to make it work,” he said. “And the reason for it is this facility is paid for . . . So when they come and talk to the farmers it doesn’t rest only on the farmers. They already have the business model.”
But he did say that it wasn’t without challenges for the farmer.
He broke it down this way:
Big Island farmers sell hay for $70 — $75 per 500 pound bale. That is $280 to $300 per ton. On the mainland the folks who were planning to make cellulosic biofuels needed it for $45 per ton. But, the farmers were getting $100 per ton for hay. So, they got a $45 per ton subsidy.
Beside the feedstock gap, the farmer will need to pay for something to squeeze the oil out of the sunflower. So, the obstacle to get over is quite high. Read the rest here