June 22 (Renewables Now) - Hawaii-based real estate company Alexander & Baldwin Inc (NYSE:ALEX) is partnering with TerViva to plant an energy crop, pongamia, on former sugar plantation lands in central Maui.
The companies plan a test project of 250 acres (101 ha) to confirm pongamia's suitability in the location and determine commercial-scale costs and yields. Initial planting will start later this summer and the initiative could be expanded to up to 2,000 acres or more, according to a news release on Wednesday.
Pongamia is a long-living tree that produces seeds similar to soybeans and uses less water and fertiliser than other crops. According to the estimates of pongamia specialist TerViva, the tree can provide more than 400 gallons (1,514 litres) of oil per acre, which can be used for biofuel production. The seed cake that remains after the processing process can be used in fertiliser or animal feed supplements, or for biogas production.
"We're excited to work with A&B and show how pongamia can revitalize fallow sugarcane land and create new revenue streams for farmers," said TerViva chief executive Naveen Sikka. "The energy and livestock feed products that we produce from our pongamia trees will serve local markets for biofuel, renewable power, cattle feed, and fertilizer," Sikka added.
The project is part of Alexander & Baldwin's plan to diversify a former 36,000-acre sugar plantation into smaller farms with different agricultural uses.