Energy Minister Warns Against Dependence on Oil


Minister of Energy, Clive Mullings, is impressing on Jamaicans the need to forge ahead with a culture of energy conservation and diversification, to avoid the consequences of continuing to depend on the volatile oil market.
“Don’t forget the lessons of high oil prices; we can’t lapse and go back into our old ways of consuming energy,” Mr. Mullings told a recent JIS Think Tank session.
“What we are seeing now is a suppression of demand, based on a fall off because of the contraction of the world economy. But, the infrastructure is there and, as such, the world economy will pick up and, once it picks up, the price will also rise,” Mr. Mullings warned.
He said that now is the time to act, given the availability of funding, internationally, for renewable energy projects.
“I had a meeting with some large international banks, and they have indicated that they still have resources available for specifically designed renewable energy projects and so, despite the fact that oil prices have trended down, there is funding available for the development of renewable energies,” he stated.
The Minister also called on individual Jamaicans to play their part in energy conservation.
“Plug things out if you don’t need them, turn the lights off. It seems tedious, but they are necessary. Once you get into that culture, you will not waste energy,” he suggested.
Mr. Mullings said that Jamaicans should see energy as blood, which shouldn’t be allowed to hemorrhage, but used efficiently to maximise personal and national development.
He said that plans are underway to make the National Water Commission (NWC), which is responsible for approximately 47% of public sector electricity usage, more efficient.
“We are looking at the NWC in terms of efficiencies. We are identifying five pumping stations, where we are hoping to find at least J$70 million to put speed variable motors in those stations, to reduce the kind of energy uptake that they require,” he pointed out.
“We are also looking, right now, in terms of the specifications of the pumps, to see how we can find equivalent solar water pumps which we can utilize to save electricity”, he revealed.
Switching to the government’s bio-fuels policy, Mr. Mullings noted that Jamaica’s trilateral arrangement on bio-fuels development, with Brazil and the United States, is an opportunity to partner with them to develop an approach to the implementation of bio-fuels and bio-diesel, as well as in improving the yield component.
“We expect, hopefully, this year to see how best we can start that process of having a blend (biodiesel). I’m not able to say at this point if it is going to be B2 or B10, but we are far down the wicket in developing this framework”, he said.
On November 1, the Ministry introduced its ethanol blend of gasoline called E10, a mix of 10% ethanol and 90 % 87 Octane. The Minister says the response has been tremendous.
“We expected to be having a demand pull of about 200 barrels per day from 100 (service) stations. We have 100 stations on the line now, and we have a pull of 8,000 barrels per day and growing,” Mr. Mullings said.
The development of bio-diesel, he said, would be complementary to the use of ethanol.
“One of the things about biodiesel [engines] is that they don’t require the kind of retrofitting that other engines would require, based on the kind of blend. The diesel engine is fascinatingly accommodating. In terms of diesel inputs, you can use vegetable oil without any retrofitting of an engine, and so the diesel engine is one that is compatible with fast- tracking these kinds of bio-fuels and biodiesel developments,” he said.
Minister Mullings also indicated that, if things go according to plan, castor bean could play a major role in bio-fuel and biodiesel production.
“The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) had some initial attempts with castor bean. They planted a five-acre field and they have already gotten the yield, which was excellent. But, the land was quite good, because it was fertilised,” he said.
“We are trying to see now how best we can do this on arable land, or land that doesn’t have the level of fertilisation that these lots had, to see the kind of yield component. We are also looking at how we can utilise it in diesel”, he added.

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