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Market introduction of SVO

If such a scenario is to become a reality a number of actors will need to be involved:

  • Tractor manufacturers will have to install the needed adaptations in their engines already at the factory. Needless to say the installation will always be cheaper if it is a part of the production of the engine rather than as a later modification. This would equally solve the warranty problems which generally plague engine modifications when original manufacturers will not cover the engine if it has been modified.
  • Oil mills must ensure that they can deliver a verifiable quality of fuel for their customers, and set up bulk distribution services.
  • Policy-makers must ensure that agricultural and taxation policies are adapted to favour production of oilseeds. This may include negotiating modifications to international agreements on oilseeds on set aside land.

The potential benefits of such a policy shift might include:

  • a more sustainable transport system (to the extent that tractors are counted as part of the transport system);
  • an expansion of agricultural markets for European farmers;
  • an increase in security of energy supply at prices which depends less on World politics and the price of crude oil;
  • production of useful by-products in terms of protein meal for animal fodder and energy crops in terms of straw for heat and power production.

In conclusion, SVO is a technology in search of a niche to fill. Becoming the primary fuel for the agricultural sector could provide a suitable opportunity. But a decision must be weighed against other biofuel options competing for the same land:

  • biodiesel has higher production costs, is less environmentally friendly but can readily be mixed with fossil diesel and used in unmodified engines;
  • bioethanol generally gives higher fuel energy yields per hectare, but less by-products. At the same time bioethanol replaces petrol, which is a surplus product in the European market due to the increasing demand for diesel and decreasing demand for petrol.

Thus the conclusion is far from clear, but if SVO is a choice the agricultural vehicle and machinery niche looks like the most promising opportunity.

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