JIS News

The spiralling price of oil on the world market has significantly impacted Jamaica, forcing the administration to explore alternative sources of energy.
Spearheading the Government’s drive in this endeavour, is Minister of Energy, Clive Mullings.
Several initiatives are being explored to come up with alternative sources, including ethanol, solar energy, wind, bio-fuel, as well as partnerships with local and international agencies.
In October 2007, the Minister informed that the Government had given Petrojam the approval to enter into a co-generation partnership with the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS), during a tour of the refinery.
The project will involve the construction of a 120-megawatt (MW) co-generation facility at the JPS’ Hunts Bay plant, which will be run on petroleum coke (petcoke), produced by Petrojam. Petcoke is a blend between petroleum and bio-gas. It costs less than a quarter of the price paid for fuels, such as coal. The project is estimated to cost US$500 million and will be completed by 2013.
On completion, the upgraded refinery will be able to process 50,000 barrels of oil daily, up from its current capacity of 30,000, and secure more finished products from each barrel. He noted that this venture is expected to position the refinery, and by extension, Jamaica, as a viable option for processing petroleum products in the region.
In January, the Minister pointed out that the divestment of the sugar industry presented an opportunity in which the synergies and investment in alternative energy, could be explored.
“The fact of the matter is.alternative energy is the way to go. It affects the bottom-line, it makes good economic sense. There are going to be entities that want to invest in the sugar cane industry, not just for ethanol, but for pharmaceuticals.This represents a golden opportunity for the sector. It therefore means that we have to look meaningfully at the synergies,” he said.
At a weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club of East St. Andrew in February, the Minister disclosed that the ethanol refinery situated at Rockfort in Kingston, which is jointly operated by the Governments of Jamaica and Brazil, will be taken over fully by the administration in May.
This will be implemented as part of the Government’s thrust to establish a domestic ethanol and, by extension, a renewable energy industry in the island. Ethanol is derived from sugar cane and is used to partially or fully power motor vehicles in some parts of the world.
He noted that there is a serious need to consider utilising renewable energy as an option to fossil fuels, in order to curtail the country’s spiralling energy bill.
Mr. Mullings highlighted that Jamaica’s oil bill in 2007 was in excess of US$2 billion, which was significantly higher than the 1998 figure of US$300 million.
He pointed out that the bauxite and transportation sectors consumed the highest volume of electricity and energy bill in the country, adding that measures are to be implemented “to wean ourselves from this dependence on fossil fuels.”
Mr. Mullings said that Jamaica has been exploring for oil, adding that there were possibilities that some would be found.
Throughout the months of February to July, appeals were made to Jamaicans, by various corporate heads, to conserve on energy, in an effort to reduce the country’s energy bill.
In April, the Ministry intensified its energy conservation campaign. Senior Engineer in the Ministry’s Energy Division, Fitzroy Vidal, informed that audits have been carried out in a number of Ministries and agencies and the necessary recommendations made, with strict monitoring, to ensure that they comply. “We have to lead by example,” he stressed.
He said that the National Water Commission (NWC), is being encouraged to use more energy efficient pumps and solar where possible, adding that consumers would “likely follow suit in the way they utilise energy.”
Additionally, a booklet titled, ‘Energy Conservation Measures and Tips for Residential and Small Commercial Sectors’, was produced by the Energy Division to assist in the campaign.
In July, the Minister urged Caribbean utility companies, to collaborate in order to combat the challenges posed by the escalating price of fuel and the energy crisis on the global market. “If we are to move ahead in the Caribbean towards achieving developed status, we must collaborate and continue to search for solutions to the present energy crisis we are now experiencing,” Mr. Mullings said.
Addressing the 2008 Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation (CARILEC) Engineers and Engineering Managers Conference, he said while the present thrust towards conservation was good, it was inevitable that growth and development would lead to increased consumption, which would demand a renewed approach to energy management.
It was announced in August, that work would commence this month on the Wigton Wind Farm in Manchester by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), in an effort to expand the farm’s generating capacity.
The project is estimated to cost US$49.9 million and will add a further 18 MW of generating capacity to the existing 20.7 MW.
Wigton Windfarm Limited, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the PCJ and was incorporated in April 2000, to generate power from wind.