Establishing a new biofuel crop using System Thinking

Bartle, Samantha (2014-04)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The complexity of adopting a new crop-based biodiesel feedstock into South Africa given the prevailing environmental, economic and social concerns facing the country are addressed in this study by utilising a Systems Thinking approach. Solaris is a new variety of Tobacco developed specifically as an energy crop over the last twelve years by Italian companies Plantechno and Sunchem. Small-scale trials have been underway over the last year in the Loskop Valley farming community in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. These trials have been managed by the newly-formed local entity, Toboil (Pty) Ltd. In order to assess the viability of introducing Solaris into Loskop in terms of addressing the current diesel and electricity needs of the community and larger over-arching biofuel goals of South Africa, the full System Dynamic Modelling process was employed. This included significant research, stakeholder engagement, a Systems Thinking workshop as well as model development and simulation using the System Dynamics programming tool, Vensim. Following the simulation of various scenarios, it was determined that in order for Solaris implementation to have the greatest impact on the diesel and electricity independence desires of the community, as well as maximising job creation and avoided greenhouse gas emissions, the first five to ten years of implementation may only achieve low to moderate profitability. It was further concluded that if crop-based biofuels are to help meet the rural development goals of South Africa then significant investment and skills transfer is required. In order to address both of these, a modular development process is advocated and should be aided and mentored by members of the commercial farming industry.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die kompleksiteit van die aanvaarding van ‘n nuwe oes-gebaseerde bio diesel roumateriaal in Suid-Afrika in die heersende omgewings-, ekonomiese- en sosiale kommer wat die land ervaar, word in hierdie studie aangespreek deur gebruik te maak van ‘n Sistemiese Denke Benadering (Systems Thinking approach) Solaris is ‘n nuwe variasie Tabak wat deur twee Italiaanse maatskappye Plantechno en Sunchem oor die afgelope twaalf jaar spesifiek as ‘n bron van energie ontwikkel is. Kleinskaalse proewe is gedurende die afgelope jaar in die Loskop Vallei Landbougemeenskap in die Limpopo-provinsie van Suid-Afrika gedoen. Hierdie proewe word onder die toesig van die nuut gevormde plaaslike entiteit, Toboil (Pty) Ltd uitgevoer. Aansienlike navorsing, die aktiewe deelname van die onderskeie belanghebbende partye, ‘n Sistemiese Denke werkswinkel sowel as die ontwerp van ‘n simulasie model deur die gebruik van Sisteem Dinamieke Programerings program, naamlik Vensim, is ingespan om die lewensvatbaarheid van die moontlike aanplanting van Solaris te beoordeel. Die spesifieke gemeenskap se huidige behoeftes aan diesel en elektrisiteit sowel as Suid-Afrika se breër doelwitte aangaande bio-brandstowwe was as die grondslag gebruik waarop die volle Sistemiese Denke Benadering toegepas is. In Loskop omgewing was verskeie moontlike scenarios beproef en daar is op grond daarvan vasgestel dat ten einde die grootste moontlike inpak te maak op die afhanlikheid van diesel en elektrisiteit behoeftes van die gemeenskap, sowel as om die grootste moontlik werkskepping potensiaal te verwesenlik – terwyl die afskeiding van kweekhuis gasse verhoed word - die eerste vyf tot tien jaar van implementering baie lae winsgrens tot gevolg sal hê. Daar is ook verder afgelei dat afsienbare beleggings en opleiding benodig gaan word indien aangeplante bio-brandstowwe aangewend sou word om die landelike ontwikkelingsdoelwitte in Suid-Afrika te verwesenlik. Ten einde beide hierdie doelwitte aan te spreek, word ‘n modulêre ontwikkelings proses aanbeveel waar gevestigde lede van die kommersiële lanbou industrie, bystand en leierskap voorsien.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86519
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