Job Creation: Is the Low-hanging Fruit the Forbidden Fruit?
The "Low-hanging Fruit" offers shareholders in the sugar or pulp & paper industry a low risk expansion opportunity into the future of bioenergy/biochemicals.
The pulp & paper as well as the sugar industries are large employers and have the ability to create additional and especially to maintain current jobs. In order to remain globally competitive, we suggest that these industries have to invest in improving energy efficiencies, reduce water consumption and optimise their biomass value chains.
During our ten years of active R&D involvement, we discovered that beneficiating biomass requires far less innovation than hands-on practical knowhow on applying known systems and proven technologies. E.g. the benefit of demonstrating proven technology in a novel combination will by far outweigh the outcome of investing in biorefinery R&D!
There are existing (fit-for-purpose) bolt-on biorefining technologies available that don't need R&D to convert the "low-hanging fruit". Biofuels/bioenergy is still a 'newish' territory and needs perhaps loan-guarantees in addition to the (e.g. R&D) tax incentives to motivate existing industries to pursue this avenue. There are is also a (perceived) lack of government policy that would speed-up the introduction of e.g 1G or 2G bioethanol into the fuel supply or to accept biobased electricity from the above two industries into the grid.
The "Low-hanging Fruit" is the forbidden fruit, if you want to create long-term jobs.
South Africa has vast tracts of land that can be developed, but they are not suitable for timber or sugarcane. In South Africa's rural areas the unemployment figures are in excess of 35%. The employment share of the agricultural sector is only approximately 8%. Therefore: Is it not obvious on what biorefining developments have to focus on?
The absence of a "client" for the farmers to supply their biomass to is one of the key strategies behind the creation of the GreenEnergyPark™ or the µ-BioRefinery™ developments. Based on proven technology, these biorefineries are able to process different non-food biomass or agricultural residues of the food-chain, which can be removed from the fields without negative impact on soil or water. They are small factories and each one of them can become a node in a web of rural economic development (See "Economy of Numbers vs. Economy of Scale").
Connecting-The-Dots™ (Creating Biobased Businesses: About our experience to connect the many "dots" of the value chains that every successful biobased business needs)
µ-BioRefinery™ (in propinquitatem ad biomasa; Bringing biorefining in proximity to biomass)
GreenEnergyPark™ (Smart biomass - agricultural/forest residues - conversions to energy, chemicals and commercial products)
International Furan Technology (An independent developer and implementer of furfural process technologies)