PCJ Takes Message of Energy Diversification to Schools

Photo: Donald Delahaye Manager Corporate Affairs and Communication at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), Camille Taylor, addresses JIS ‘Think Tank’ about the Corporation’s energy competition for schools.

Story Highlights

  • The competition, which saw 25 schools presenting their projects to the PCJ in April, will result in one school walking away with the prize of a $750,000 grant for the implementation of their project under the guidance and supervision of the PCJ’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Department (REEED) in June.
  • The students tell JIS News that they plan to use the biogas to generate electricity in an attempt to reduce the school’s electricity bill.
  • In addition to the main prize, which will be awarded to the school with a team in the 16-19 age category, $200,000 will go to students on the first-place team; $160,000 for the second-place students and $120,000 for the students finishing third.

The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) continues to promote energy diversification and the incorporation of renewables into the country’s energy mix, taking its message to schools through the Schools Energy Programme science competition.

The competition, which saw 25 schools presenting their projects to the PCJ in April, will result in one school walking away with the prize of a $750,000 grant for the implementation of their project under the guidance and supervision of the PCJ’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Department (REEED) in June.

Manager, Corporate Affairs and Communication, Camille Taylor, tells JIS News that for the competition, students were asked to identify and quantify the most optimum natural resource that can be used to generate renewable energy at their schools’ location, such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass.

She adds that the natural resource selected by the teams must be the most practical one that can be converted into energy to be used in a current building or high-energy usage system at their school.

“The PCJ’s public-education thrust aims to enable the population to use energy wisely, efficiently and conservatively, in keeping with the primary objectives of Jamaica’s National Energy Policy,” Miss Taylor explains.

With this in mind, she says that one of the critical target groups is the nation’s youth,   and the Schools Energy Programme is the PCJ’s flagship vehicle for reaching this important demographic.

From the competition, Miss Taylor says, the students developed a greater understanding of the need to use energy-efficient products, technologies and practices at school and at home.

Additionally, the competition allowed them to develop an appreciation for energy efficiency and conservation, while giving them an outlet to apply their ingenuity and creativity.

For the display, students from the schools entered models with windmills, solar panels and biogas conversion.

St. Mary High School students displayed their biodigester that they propose to operate using the waste from the pigs in the school’s piggery to make biogas.

The team explains that they intend to use the water and the waste on the farm, while the gas will be used in the kitchen.

In doing this, they say that they plan to cut the cost of the school’s electricity by 50 per cent each year.

Cedric Titus High School also displayed their impressive biodigester, which they intend to operate using animal waste.

The students tell JIS News that they plan to use the biogas to generate electricity in an attempt to reduce the school’s electricity bill.

Additionally, they say that the project is also a thrust towards recycling, which is important to the environment.

Dermane Francis, a member of the team, says if the project is successful, they would love the opportunity to partner with a local sugar factory, exchanging fertiliser for some of their sugar-cane waste.

He explains that their proposed biodigester would utilise any organic material, so the sugar-cane waste would help to make it successful.

Port Morant Primary and Junior High School entered the competition by proposing the use of wind turbines in an effort to cut their electricity bill by 50 per cent.

Student of the school, Romeo Brian, explains that the project was chosen because of geographical location.  “We are approximately a quarter mile away from the sea, and so we get a lot of sea breeze,” he says.

Manchester High School also showcased their solar energy system model, which was designed with the objective of cutting their school’s electricity bill by 30 per cent initially, and eventually by 80 per cent.

Other schools that entered the competition include Anchovy High, Ardenne

High, Bog Walk High, Brown’s Town High, Carron Hall High; Cornwall College, Edith Dalton James High, Old Harbour High, Old Harbour Primary and Penwood High.

Also entered were Green Pond High, Guy’s Hill High, Half-Way Tree Primary, Herbert Morrison Technical High, Holy Trinity High, Kingston Technical High, Mitchell Town Primary, Montego Bay High, St. Ann’s Bay Primary, St. Mary High, Westwood High, and Winston Jones High.

The competition allowed each school to enter a maximum of two teams in the age categories 9 to12, 13 to 15 and 16 to 19 years, with each team having no more than four persons.

In addition to the main prize, which will be awarded to the school with a team in the 16-19 age category, $200,000 will go to students on the first-place team; $160,000 for the second-place students and $120,000 for the students finishing third.

The competition, which started in 2003, has had many successes. Campion College, winners of last year’s competition, used their prize money to assist in the installation of a solar-powered water-pumping system. Herbert Morrison, which came second, is using their funds to purchase and install a solar 3,000 watt grid-tiered solar photovoltaic system.  Both projects are in progress.

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