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Carbon Mobilization in Oil Palm Plantation and Milling Based on a Carbon-Balanced Model – A Case Study in Thailand

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Author(s): Withida Patthanaissaranukool | Chongchin Polprasert

Journal: EnvironmentAsia
ISSN 1906-1714

Volume: 4;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 17;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: biomass | carbon-balanced model | carbon emission | carbon equivalence | palm oil

ABSTRACT
Damage to agricultural areas and household properties occurs more frequently all year round from extreme weather, which is believed to be due to climate change caused by the increase of greenhouse gases – particularly, CO2. In order to help reduce its concentration in the atmosphere, palm oil is a renewable energy which can be used for this purpose. In this study, the carbon mobilization of palm oil was investigated, from oil palm plantation process to the milling process, so as to determine the associated Carbon Equivalence (CE) and the effects on human and land space. A carbon-balanced model (CBM) is proposed herewith to indicate the main paths of carbon emission, fixation, and reduction. The net equivalent carbon emission was found to be 56 kg CE per ton of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) produced, resulting in the emission flux of 175 kg CE/ha-y. The plantation activity that emits the highest CO2 levels is fertilizer application, accounting for about 84% of the total. All bio-residues produced from CPO production were found to be utilized for human use, thereby decreasing the carbon emission. Their use ranged from biogas and electricity generation to soil conditioning, and the utilization of the bio-residues resulted in total carbon reduction of 212 kg CE per ton of CPO. Carbon fixation as a main product (CPO) was found to be an average of 812 kg CE per ton of CPO, equivalent to 2543 kg CE/ha-y. Overall, as the total fixation is 14 times higher than that of the total emissions, the production of CPO generates and introduces a very small amount of waste into the environment. To satisfy the need for palm oil as renewable energy and other end-user products the expansion of the plantation areas may result in competition of agricultural land with other cash crops.
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