The energy role of agriculture

Agriculture and renewable energy, the challenge of the third millennium

By Renewable Agriculture Energy.

Key words: raw vegetable oil, hvb fuel, biodiesel, biofuel, diester, green energy, sunflower, rapeseed, straw, biofuel, wood, boiler, oil engine.

Change of function of agriculture

Agriculture has always been asked to produce food. During the twentieth century, this demand was aimed at securing this production and averting the risk of famine. At the end of the second world war, it was the challenge, challenge raised.
This approach required the regrouping of plots, the use of mechanical and chemical means, the intensification that led to the excesses that we see today. The agricultural development routes that have been followed in recent decades are, in their terms, now referred to as unnatural agriculture.

For the record, 100 years ago, 90% of household income, was intended to buy bread, today, 5% of this income is spent on the raw material necessary for the manufacture of food. The liberated part of this income is now destined for other needs, first comfort and then other needs more futile which generate the development of trade and which cause excesses as well economic, social and ecological.

However, since 2002, the European Commission has authorized farmers to cultivate on their fallow land, for private use, enough to heat themselves and produce energy. Local energy production indeed represents a significant alternative for part of agricultural production:

- renewable energy, environment, greenhouse effect, significant action on the balance of carbon dioxide releases / captures,
- reduction of energy dependence at the origin of conflicts,
- employment in rural areas, solidarity, redeployment of horizontal links, local cogeneration,
- food safety, traceability, control of animal feed,
- recovery of added value compared to “delocalized” productions.

Production of raw vegetable oil and oily meal, in short circuit.

How is oil produced?

The manufacture of oil is simple, it can be done with small machines. One of the smallest press weighs 45 kg for a production capacity up to 15 000 l per year. By a very high pressure, the solid and liquid part of the oleaginous, sunflower and rapeseed are separated.

Two products are from this first phase:
a) The cloudy oil, which is a mixture of oil and stock, then comes the decantation which can last from 1 to 20 days following the raw material and its characteristics, then the filtration,
b) The cake, which is a fatty meal because extracted without solvent, necessary for the feeding of animals.

At this stage, the raw vegetable oil can be used directly as a cooking oil or as a fuel.


The production of shortcake, short circuit, allows a source of protein traced and safe. This approach allows the farmer to regain responsibility and control the entire feed of his livestock. The events of recent years prove that our food is weighed against nature by the use of proteins of unknown origin.

Use of crude vegetable oil (HVB) as fuel

A diesel car with indirect injection can simply run on crude vegetable oil as fuel.

The incorporation of 30% crude vegetable oil is possible without any modification. Use at 100% or in cold periods will require more care or adaptation.

In a direct injection diesel car (HDI, Command Rail, etc.), switching to crude vegetable oil requires adaptations, however, 5 to 10% crude vegetable oil in these vehicles does not pose any particular problem.

More surprisingly, if your diesel car "smokes black", incorporating 30% oil eliminates this pollution.

Do not confuse Methyl Ester with Vegetable Oil and Raw Vegetable Oil

From the same basic oleaginous plants, one is an industrial product, the other can be artisanal and local.

The oil consists of a molecule of glycerin that binds three fatty acid chains. It is this glycerine that makes oil a less common fuel to use than diesel.

To circumvent this aspect, the industry carries out the esterification of the oil which requires about twenty five operations to obtain what is called the Diester, the Biogazole, the Dieselbi, as many commercial brands which cover one and the same product : Vegetable oil methyl ester (VOME), "official biofuel" partly zero-rated.

What is the difference between methyl ester of vegetable oil and crude vegetable oil, so-called renewable biofuel products:
- one is industrial, unmarked, distributed in service stations, resulting from intensive agriculture, the result of the link between farmers and oil tankers,
- the other is local, without transport and does not fit into the fuel distribution circuit, it targets local distribution circuits.

Fuel legislation

Since 1997 and according to the May 2003 directive applicable by 31 December 2004 at the latest, the European Commission is asking the member states to harmonize their texts concerning the use of raw vegetable oil.

France has not transcribed this directive in its texts and refuses to consider the HVB as a fuel, any product not included in the list of authorized products is prohibited or must be incorporated under customs control in a refinery.

The legislator has not defined that it is the fiscal nature of the oil, it can be a food oil, a petroleum adjuvant, a fuel, it is its use that defines its nature.

In the midst of the debate on biofuels, two possibilities emerge, one controlled by the industrialists marks the alliance and the allegiance of the peasants to the oil companies, the other which affirms that renewable energy is everyone's business.

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France will take a position this autumn on biofuel and its position on VAT and TIPP, TIC, Internal Consumption Taxes since 1er January 2004, will show its willingness in this area. It's up to everyone to question their local politicians or professionals, about their position and to control their actions.

In the absence of a clear position, the 1er January 2005, the European directives will automatically apply, the use of the HVB as fuel will be allowed.

Environmental impact

In contrast to massive CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, plants consume carbon during their growth phase before releasing it during combustion.

According to Kyoto's negotiable trading license for CO2, the value per hectare saved is an asset in international negotiations.
The small size of the production units limits risks of all kinds, explosion, fire, pollution, etc.

These are low polluting products. During periods of harvesting, storage, delivery, use, the risk of pollution is limited.

During combustion:
a) limitation of black smoke and carcinogenic particles,
b) absence of aromatic compounds, it is those who feel around a car,
c) absence of sulfur which makes it possible to avoid the release of sulfur oxides at the base of the acid pollution,
d) absence of PAHs, known to be carcinogenic,
(e) burning raw vegetable oil does not produce ozone.

Bringing the means of production closer to their consumption site opens up a completely different, more rational and more global outlook on energy relations.

The production and local use of energy make it possible to limit transport, which, although it has enabled our development, is beginning to create difficulties without real solutions through its exponential growth.

It induces a better occupation of space than bare fallows.

Warm yourself with agricultural cereals

1 can be heated to 2 homes with one ha of cereals. These heating means are already widely used in the countries of northern Europe and the decline in use guarantees reliability.

These include individual or collective boilers, stoves that are wood-pellet stoves adapted, burners to replace that of your boilers. All these machines are now available on the market. We will soon also have equipment to mount on old wood stoves making them efficient and easy to use and in-serts.

When electricity, gas, fuel are too expensive, badly smelling literally and figuratively, the wood is too heavy, difficult to handle and not very comfortable to use, it is possible to heat directly with decommissioned seeds or specifically cultivated, in a strict respect of the environment, harvested by a combine harvester, without transport, without huge factory. 2 to 2,5 kg of cereals have the same calorific value as a liter of fuel. The cereals consume the CO² before rejecting it. They are renewable, clean, without the risk of fire or explosion, produced locally, carrying work in rural areas for delivery and service.

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In this approach, "the customer" will have a direct look at how his "supplier" produces the seeds he delivers, the horizontal user producer link allows to resume a direct link between agriculture and the population.

Local energy production represents a significant alternative in terms of agricultural production, with the possibility of a very rapid ramp-up because the men, structures and production tools are in place.
It is the guarantor of the maintenance of economic activities in rural areas, the surpluses remaining local, more largely rural, key to the fight against desertification.

Georges LOUIS, President of ARE

Heating cereals, in figures

In heat: 2 kg of cereals (0,24 € HT) = 1 l of fuel (0,46 €)

A hectare of grain can heat 1 to 2 homes. 1 ha of grain produced 50 90 Qx / ha of cereals,

In 2003, France counted 1 600 000 ha fallow, it is the equivalent of 2 500 4 500 l fuel for 1 ha.

With very little chemistry, one can easily produce 50 Qx (5 000 kg) / ha, ie 2 500 l of fuel per year.

Plants such as triticale (wheat and rye crosses) grow with very little chemistry for yields equivalent to current cereals.

In a cereal stove in the middle of the house 2 500 to 3 500 kg decrease the heating bill by half. In a boiler, you need 4 000 8 000 kg of grain to heat a winter.

We find :
- cereal stoves from € 3
- burners to replace an oil burner from 2 300 €
- domestic boilers from € 4

Farmers are equipped today to plant, cultivate, harvest, store and deliver these cereals.

Raw vegetable oil in figures

It can be estimated that one hectare per car per year is needed.

It takes 3 kg of seeds to make 1 l of oil (30 to 45%). 25 is produced from 45 Qx rapeseed or sunflower / ha, this makes 750 to 2 050 l oil per hectare.

A diesel car travels from 12 000 to 17 000 km per year, it consumes 600 to 1 400 l fuel per year.

In 2003, the methyl ester of oil grown on fallow land represented 360 000 Ha.

In France 340 000 farmers receive PAC bonuses.

- Make a vegetable oil burner
- Agriculture and energies
- Biofuel crude vegetable oil
- The 2005 biofuel plan
- Live without oil

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