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Minister of Energy, Clive Mullings, has said that despite the lowering of oil prices, the Government will continue its policy of energy diversification and by extension, energy security, for Jamaica.
The Minister was speaking at a symposium on ‘Options for Jamaica’s Energy Security: A Focus on Waste to Energy Conversion’, which was held recently at the Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston.
He noted that “one of the challenges to energy and the focus on energy has been low prices because as prices come down, we lose the focus and then we continue as if everything is back to normal and that high prices are in fact abnormal. That’s not so. What we have seen is that the volatility in prices, especially in crude oil has really ravished incomes for the individual and of course, profit lines for companies, and so what we have are technologies that are being employed now that can help us to face these challenges. This symposium will help us to look at the opportunities that are out there.”
With respect to the utilisation of Jamaica’s waste and landfills as sources of energy, the Minister stated that, “the concept of waste is changing. Soon there will be nothing known as waste, it can be utilised”.
Echoing the Minister’s sentiments of breaking the dependence on oil as well as exploring other energy alternatives, Executive Director of Red Energy Jamaica, a subsidiary of the Red Energy Group, Michael Chen, said that stakeholders, inclusive of the public and private sectors, must realise the urgency with which the country needs to pursue energy solutions, especially as it relates to energy sufficiency and availability.
“One of the purposes of this symposium is to promote private and public sector cooperation. We want to generate an interest in our energy situation, our energy future, to create a common understanding and a sense of urgency that the time to act is now,” he articulated.
“We know of the burden that is on us as a nation with respect to our crude oil requirements,” he said, pointing out that almost 30 million barrels of crude imports came into the country in 2007 at a cost of more than US$2 billion.
He further pointed to the need to increase electricity capacity, noting the “deficiencies and anxieties that are created when, because of the lack of a clear path with respect to our energy sufficiency, we have to hesitate on development-related projects”.
“We have seen it in our mining industry,” he cited, “where our bauxite expansion has been wobbling a bit because of the uncertainty as to what is the source of energy that is going to power this expansion and development. We can ill-afford for that to happen to us. We need to have the benefit of energy security. It is needed for the expansion of our industries whether it is tourism, mining infrastructural development”.
The Red Energy Group, is a United States-based alternative energy company, that specialises in the development and delivery of renewable energy technologies. It provides the “most effective and efficient solutions for energy needs by utilising the latest proven techniques for wind, solar, bio and other energy technologies.” Red Energy has an office in St. Catherine.
The Red Energy Group is unique in offering a Catalytic Depolmerisation Procedure (CDP) technology, which converts waste materials to fossil free fuel.The group is exploring the possibility of constructing a waste-to-energy plant in Jamaica, capable of supplying the national grid with 3.5 megawatts (MW) and producing an environmentally friendly diesel, which is superior to regular diesel.