JIS News

The E10 roll out is a very positive step in advancing Jamaica’s renewable energy initiatives, says Group Managing Director of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), Dr. Ruth Potopsingh.
“The environmental benefits are tremendous, and it is in keeping with worldwide trends for countries to use ethanol instead of Methyl Tertiary Buthyl Ether (MTBE) as an octane enhancer,” Dr.Potopsingh told a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank on Thursday (December 3).
MTBE is derived from fossil fuel and is a known pollutant, especially for ground water.
The PCJ executive pointed out other benefits of using ethanol, such as expansion of the sugar cane industry and advancement of Jamaica’s bio-fuels strategy.
“Jamaica is a leader in the Caribbean, where the ethanol bio-fuel initiative is concerned, and has been receiving several enquiries from CARICOM nations about how they too may introduce E10 in their fuel,” Dr.Potopsingh said.
She also described ethanol as cleaner for engines, which may require that gas filters be changed following initial use. At the same time, she said boaters would need to take special precautions such as covering engines or sealing with duct tape, as ethanol has an affinity for water.
Dr. Potopsingh said that, while the initial costs for renewable energy projects may be high, the fact that they are indigenous eliminates the need to import petroleum products for energy, as we would be using energy derived from wind, water, sunlight and solid waste and reducing expenditure of hard currency for fuel imports.
Jamaica spent US$2 billion on imported petroleum products to meet the country’s energy needs in 2008.
Dr. Potopsingh emphasised that the PCJ has the mandate to provide for Jamaica’s renewable energy needs, and these were only some initiatives that have been undertaken in keeping not only with that mandate, but also achieving the target of 15% of Jamaica’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2010.
For example, Wigton Wind Farm is the only commercial wind producing facility in the English speaking Caribbean. The PCJ is in the process of negotiating increased power purchase per kilowatt hour from Wigton, and expects to increase production at the farm to 18 megawatts by the third quarter of 2010.
An added component to the wind energy initiative is an islandwide wind mapping exercise. She said that 20 sites have been selected for data collection and analysis, to determine their wind generating potential. Once this is ascertained, project proposals will be created for investors. Sites were selected based on temperature and wind data collected from the meteorological office.
Dr. Potopsingh listed other imminent renewable energy projects, such as hydro-power from the Laughlands River in St Ann which, she said, is ready for an investor to join with the PCJ to develop a two megawatt facility.
She spoke of other hydro-power initiatives at the pre-feasibility stage, such as the Back Rio Grande in Portland, which has the potential to produce 30 megawatts of energy, and the Great River, Hanover, with the potential to produce 8 megawatts of energy. Funding for the studies is already in place, having been provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the CARICOM Secretariat.
Also to commence soon are pre-feasibility studies for photovoltaics, or solar energy projects in the Portmore area. Discussions were currently in progress with a company to produce energy from solid waste, using solid waste management sites at Riverton and St Catherine to generate approximately 40 megawatts of power, and another site at Retirement, St James, for 20 megawatts.

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