The subject of this report is whether biomass from plant material could be a good source of renewable energy in Sumba. This study was conducted in September–October 2011, and included a short desk study, four weeks’ field study in Sumba, a stakeholder meeting in Sumba to discuss results, and a final analysis by the research team. The overall objectives were (a) to describe recent experiences and current cultivation practices of crops that could be used for production of biofuels and electricity generation in Sumba, including the waste streams; and (b) to indicate the potential for increasing energy feedstock production in a sustainable way.
Hivos asked the team to develop a method to assess which crops, biomass streams, and value chains are suitable for developing into biomass-for-energy production, and to identify crucial factors for success or failure. This method takes into account resources availability in Sumba, general social sustainability, and ethical considerations.
First, this report provides a scheme for grounded assessment of production factor availability for expansion of biofuel crop cultivation in a delineated area. Second, the report explains how social sustainability and ethical considerations concerning food versus fuel play a role in assessing various options for energy feedstock production. Thirdly, the report looks at the crops and wild plants that could be sources of fatty oil feedstock for bio-diesel, sources of sugary feedstock for bio-ethanol, and sources for gasification.
A general conclusion from the field data was that there is a pattern in which the options for increasing energy feedstock production are seen as four distinct transition processes: commoditisation of wild plants and trees; introduction of new energy crops for small-holder cultivation; changing the use of existing small holder cash crops; and introducing plantation agriculture.