Honduran Tilapia Out Of Frying Pan, Into Clean Energy Source

Country produces 300,000 gallons of biodiesel annual which costs nearly a dollar less than fossil fuels per gallon.

Saint Peter's was just another commercial fish farm until striking oil on its property -- found in the heads and guts left over after filleting. The 300,000 gallons of biodiesel pressed from the fish heads, skin and internal organs is enough to generate the company's electricity, fuelling 10 trucks and the eight buses that bring the 1,500 workers in each day.

"We export two planes full of fish every day, some 55 million pounds (25 million kilograms) of fish the company ships annually," plant manager Israel Snir said. The leftover gurry, or fish offal, would be just garbage, creating an environmental problem all its own, if it were not made into biodiesel, he added.

"We produce annually 300,000 gallons (1.135 million liters) of biodiesel, which costs nearly a dollar less than fossil fuels per gallon," Snir said.

For five years, the factory has raised fish in El Borboton, 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Tegucigalpa. "We are world leaders in making and using biodiesel from animal waste," plant environmentalist Vilma Andreakis said. "It is clean energy."

"According to the World Bank, 70% of the population of seven million in Honduras lives on less than two dollars a day," Snir said. "In the midst of such a disgrace we have created a model of sustainable development," he said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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