The Cinderella Plant
Africans used to think jatropha was a worthless bush.
Now it may be an important new source of energy.
By Karen Palmer, Newsweek International, Feb. 19, 2007 issue
Jatropha Circas is the Cinderella of the plant world. Throw a seed in the poorest soil on the planet, and up comes a bush that will likely last 50 years. During a drought, jatropha bushes simply drop their leaves and keep pumping out seedpods. ...
Now this humble bush appears poised to become a global star. In recent years studies have shown that jatropha oil burns with one fifth the carbon emission of fossil fuels, making Africa's hardscrabble ground a potentially fertile source of energy. Scientists estimate that if even a quarter of the continent's arable land were plowed into jatropha plantations, output would surpass 20 million barrels a day. ...
The European Union has decreed that consumers will use 5.75 percent biodiesel in motor vehicles by 2010 and 20 percent by 2020, which means that Europe has to come up with a 10.5 billion-liter supply of biodiesel in the next four years. ... so far, jatropha is the only [new energy crop] ready for commercialization.