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Islanders benefit from biodiesel technology

Torika Tokalau
Monday, May 19, 2014

KORO islanders are making use of the abundance of coconut trees and using their copra-making skills to produce enough energy to light up their homes and power appliances all year round.

This project has now made them energy independent, saving on fossil fuel usage.

Iowane Bale, the mill manager at the Koro Biofuel Mill located in Nacamaki Village, said theirs was one of the first biofuel project sites in Fiji, which cost $435,856 to establish in 2010.

"The mill produces an average of 520 litres of filtered oil per day from 1.2 tonnes of copra and operating for 240 days a year," Mr Bale said.

He said the mill produced enough biodiesel to meet the island's demands.

The biodiesel is retailed within Koro at $2.45 a litre.

Other products from the coconut tree such as coconut oil is sold at $2 a litre and copra meal, which is used for animal feed and manure, is sold at $0.50 a kilogram.

The coconut oil and copra meal are sold to buyers outside Koro.

"We have three villages (Nacamaki, Mudu and Nakodu) regularly buying biodiesel while another village, Nasau, buys biodiesel occasionally.

"Biodiesel costs $2.45 a litre compared with $2.80 a litre for diesel."

For about 283 residents of Nacamaki Village, regular access to electricity for four to five hours a night allows the 73 homes to own and operate appliances such as television, mobile phones, electric iron and even washing machine.

Village headman Malakai Salabula said each household paid $3.50 a week to have access to electricity and power all year round.

"We are very fortunate to have the Biofuel Mill in Koro because biodiesel is cheaper than regular diesel and if the boats do not come from Suva, we still have access to fuel and electricity," Mr Salabula said.

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