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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number ES/K011812/1
Title Energy gardens for small-scale farmers in Nepal: institutions, species and technology
Status Completed
Energy Categories Renewable Energy Sources(Bio-Energy, Other bio-energy) 25%;
Renewable Energy Sources(Bio-Energy, Applications for heat and electricity) 75%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (Geography and Environmental Studies) 10%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Development Studies) 20%;
AREA STUDIES (Asian Studies) 50%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Consumer attitudes and behaviour) 25%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Other sociological economical and environmental impact of energy) 75%;
Principal Investigator Professor J Lovett
No email address given
Sch of Geography
University of Leeds
Award Type Standard
Funding Source ESRC
Start Date 01 October 2013
End Date 31 March 2015
Duration 18 months
Total Grant Value £78,373
Industrial Sectors
Region Yorkshire & Humberside
Programme DfId
Investigators Principal Investigator Professor J Lovett , Sch of Geography, University of Leeds (99.998%)
  Other Investigator Dr A Ross , Energy Resources Research Unit, University of Leeds (0.001%)
Ms S Oldfield , Research, Botanic Gardens Conservation Int (0.001%)
Web Site
Abstract The greatest potential for deriving energy from plants is the fact that appropriate local species can be grown in different environments all round the world. So it is possible to grow 'Energy Gardens' using a range of plant species to produce different forms of energy. In contrast, fossil fuels need to be transported in bulk from the site of extraction, processed and distributed to the point of use. Using energy gardens, poor farming communities, perhaps living in remote areas, can grow their own fuel. Traditionally this has been wood fuel, but new technologies and innovative ideas are opening the possibility to grow and process biofuels, or combine sanitation with energy production. So, for example, irrigation pumps could be powered by locally produced biofuels, thereby providing important inputs into the agricultural cycle at a time when farmers are often financially constrained.Plants capture energy from the sun through photosynthesis and store it in in the form of vegetative growth. This growth takes a wide variety of forms from woody to soft tissues, and can be quite complex chemically including sugars, oils and other products. Plants are thus ideal sources of renewable energy. This energy is released through burning wood and other forms of biomass, but more recently, plant products such as vegetable oils and sugars have been used to create biofuels for running internal combustion engines. Indeed the first diesel engine, built by Dr Rudolf Diesel in 1885, included peanut oil in its fuel. The energy garden project will focus on the social science of creating new links across disciplines and exploring how novel technologies can be transferred to communities for energy production.The second major advantage of deriving power from plants is that the energy is renewable. Concern over greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels has given rise to calls for replacement of non-renewable fossil fuels by biofuels, there by conforming with a basic principle of sustainability in that the use of fuels from renewable sources meets the 'needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'. However, the greatly increased use of biofuels that resulted from national and international policies encouraging their use coupled with a sharp rise in the costs of fossil fuels, gave rise to considerable public concern. Biofuels have been implicated in 'food for fuel' controversies, food price increases, loss of access to land through 'land grabbing' and loss of biodiversity through conversion of natural ecosystems to biofuel plantations such as for palm oil. By using local plant species for energy production integrated into food growing these criticisms can be overcome. Firstly, food growth is enhanced by improving energy inputs into the farms. Secondly, no land is lost as the energy plants can be grown in field bunds or as shade. Thirdly, by using a range of local plant species, biodiversity of the farming system is enhanced, the value of local species enhanced, and finally, by choosing the right conversion approaches, energy can be generated minimising environmental and health impacts to local communities. This approach was pioneered by the Hassan Biofuels Park in southern India, and their success has had a major impact on Indian national and state biofuel policy and legislation. Through the partnership, the project will explore the possibilities of transferring the knowledge and approach developed in Hassan to Nepal and other countries.Dissemination of the outputs is a critical component of the project activities. The innovative approach adopted by the project is to use the international network of botanical gardens that form 'Botanic Gardens Conservation International'. The project will distil the findings into the form of display materials that will be made available to botanic gardens worldwide for promotion of the energy garden concept.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 07/01/15