Friday 15th of December 2006


Session at Grand Coude

I. Energy self-sufficiency in rural villages

1. Recyclable energy : Sunflowers versus sugarcane ?

The presentation by the pupils of the Pierre Poivre secondary school in St Joseph of their study on recycling vegetable oils brought out two positive points :

- The pupils were very much involved in the project throughout the school year.
- Secondly, farmers in Reunion are asking the question: «What about sugarcane? What about the production of ethanol ?»

Sunflowers versus sugarcane? Which will win in Reunion, if we consider that the production of ethanol necessitates more space, whereas recycling vegetable oils needs very little ?

What is important is not to develop this or that renewable energy source, but to encourage diversity. As one of the speakers mentioned : «If, on the individual level, we achieve just a small amount of respect for the environment and become aware of the importance of different forms of recycling, then we are taking a step in the right direction».

2. Renewable energy: wind energy, solar photovoltaic energy and tax benefits, difficult to achieve for the average family

TAll these forms of energy are not very original, but we can see that France and Reunion Island are lagging behind. It is the citizens who have to struggle to achieve sustainable development.

The problem of photovoltaic solar panels, for example, is the cost. How can we ask families who already have a fairly low standard of living to fund projects that cost between € 4000 and € 8000 ?

This is all the more so as selling the surplus energy produced is not so simple, since the electricity must be used immediately and cannot be stored.

Is it the town council that should fund the installation of these panels? Is it the State? Why shouldn’t the people of Reunion be able to take advantage of the possible tax benefits ?

II. Energy sources coming from agriculture

1. The farm is a true source of energy
Farmers must be made aware that this energy may one day be a source of income. Bio-energy (biomass, bio-ethanol, bio-diesel, and biogas) are not cost-effective on the scale of a single farm, but farmers can set up co-operatives to make them more profitable.

2. The example of using chicken litter, the INCIVOL974 project, , initiated by chicken farmers in Reunion: using chicken litter in bagasse (sugar-cane residue) / coal power-plants in Reunion.

Producers are seeking the best way to counter the competition of frozen foods coming from outside the island and sold at a much lower cost. Producers must try to sell at competitive prices, while maintaining the quality of their production. The problem is not one of scale but one of production: the only solution for chicken farmers is to offer a high-quality product.

The problem is in fact both social and economic: producers know how to manufacture quality products but are limited by the fact that it is not always the consumer’s tastes that guide his choice, but the monthly budget set aside for food.

Report of Thursday, 14 décember 2006
Report of Saturday, 16 décember 2006



Three topics are proposed for the next European Rural University, which will take place on 7th, 8th and 9th September 2010 in Saint-Joseph :

- Europe at the service of the rural community and its inhabitants,
- Rural professions for women,
- Culture : between heritage and innovation.

16 November 2009