BioEnergy Research

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 165–179 | Cite as

Potential Suitability and Viability of Selected Biodiesel Crops in Australian Marginal Agricultural Lands Under Current and Future Climates

  • Inakwu O. A. Odeh
  • Daniel K. Y. Tan
  • Tihomir Ancev


The potential environmental suitability and economic viability of growing two biodiesel crops in marginal regions of Australia were explored. Firstly, we used spatial analysis techniques to identify marginal agricultural regions suitable for growing pongam (Pongamia pinnata) and Indian mustard (Brassica juncea), and determined the base socioeconomic viability of investments for the production of biodiesel in the identified areas. Secondly, we used climate change projections (target years 2020 to 2070) from the Commonwealth Scientific, Industrial and Research Organization Mk3.0 global circulation model generated for two emission scenarios (A1B and A1FI) to determine the shift in potential areas for these crops. Under the climate change scenarios tested, the total area suitable for growing pongam between 2040 and 2070 is substantially different from the suitable area under current climate, indicating that long-term investments in this perennial tree crop may not be viable in all regions, especially in southern Australia. There is a greater variation in suitability projections for Indian mustard, although there is more flexibility for cropping options given that it is an annual crop. However, future economic viability is likely to depend on the ability to receive renewable energy certificates for both crops and, in the case of pongam, the certified emission reductions. Opportunities exist for sustainable pongam agroforestry to supply biodiesel to regional towns, cattle stations and mines in northern Australia.


Suitability Biodiesel Bioenergy Pongamia pinnata Brassica juncea Climate change Economics Adaptation 



Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Renewable energy certificates


Certified emission reduction


Future climate scenario based on the A1 storyline and scenario family (which describes a future world of very rapid economic growth, global population that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter) but describes a balance across all energy sources


Future climate scenario based on the A1 but describes an alternative direction of technological change in the energy system by emphasizing fossil fuel intensity


Future climate scenario, also based on A1 but emphasizes predominately non-fossil energy resources


Scenario family that describes a very heterogeneous world


Scenario family that describes a convergent world with rapid change in economic structures ‘dematerialization’ and introduction of clean technologies


Scenario family which describes a world in which the emphasis is on local solutions to economic, social and environmental sustainability


Global circulation model


Commonwealth Scientific, Industrial and Research Organization


Net present value


Greenhouse gas



We thank Ian Smith and Leanne Webb of CSIRO for advice on OzClim and Daryl Young and Sue Bestow of Australian Agricultural Crop Technologies Pty Ltd for providing the Indian mustard gross margins.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Inakwu O. A. Odeh
    • 1
  • Daniel K. Y. Tan
    • 1
  • Tihomir Ancev
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural ResourcesThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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