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The main general objective of the EU supported LIFE-VOICE project is to promote a rural sustainable development and GHG emission reduction, through the development of short energetic supply chain, based on pure vegetable oil. The project goal is therefore to demonstrate an agroenergy chain which is sustainable not only from the environmental point of view but also from the socio-economic perspective. The area of interest is focused in the southern EU countries and the experience is transferable to the MED area.

The opportunities to promote new chances for the agricultural sector are creating by the VOICE-LIFE project developing short energetic chains, where the main part of the added value, created by selling the energy or the biofuel, remains to the farmer.

The seed production is carried out in Italy and Portugal. The most suitable variety and the type of oil seeds, are chosen in between the typical varieties. The analysis of the most suitable cultivation for Mediterranean countries is also a goal of the project. The possibility to produce energy from the fields is a challenge and an opportunity for the local agriculture, as the actual trend (at least until the last year) in Europe is to abandon the soil due to the weak economical remuneration. In the LIFE-VOICE project the farmers have the opportunity to produce a rather traditional and well known feedstock (the oil seeds), easily transform it into two highly added value products (vegetable oil and seed cake) in decentralized mills and use the oil to produce electrical/thermal energy (in converted engines) or transports, while the seed cake is a protein-rich meal for animal feed.

Target for the oil quality is set, based on the experiences carried out in Germany for the rape seed oil.

The energetic conversion of the oil produced is carried out in several plants, realized to demonstrate the possibility to use this fuel in different technologies. Power production is performed by small co-generators (5 kWel – 10 kWth), a medium-size generator (50 kWel) and a micro gas turbine (30 kWel). Heat production is performed by burners installed in a school (250 kWth) and in a greenhouse (150 kWth).

The economic analysis of the entire agroenergetic chain is performed using different scenarios. The price of the feedstock, on the international market, showed strong fluctuations during the project, as well as the level of incentives for this green electricity, making the analysis very difficult and subjected to further changes.

The environmental sustainability of the schema proposed by the project is evaluated using both the LCA and the EIA methodology. Data are collected “on-field”, thanks to the collaboration of the farmers involved in the project. Environmental analysis of selected options, definition of a possible regional supply chain, support to the development of a National policy for the promotion of vegetable oil direct use with possible environmental as well as socio-economic benefits for the farmers, are the target of the project partner efforts.

The project concluded in the december of 2009, faced technological, agronomical, practical and administrative issue related to the development of and agrienergetic chain and it is developing proposal for strategies and policies.

© 2006/2007 CREAR - Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca per le Energie Alternative e Rinnovabili
University of Florence
Project supported by the European Community under the LIFE-Environment Programme
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  CREAR - Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca per le Energie Alternative e Rinnovabili Università di Firenze

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