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Fuel Alternatives

As part of its continued thrust to diversify Jamaica’s energy mix and decrease the country’s dependence on petroleum, the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) is seeking to promote the use of fuel alternatives, such as compressed natural gas (CNG), in the land transport sector.

The GOJ has embarked on a pilot to test CNG in five new Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses over six months. The buses, which were built in China, were factory fitted for CNG use.

The pilot will seek to determine, among other things, the cost of running the buses on this alternative fuel. The JUTC is the first public transportation outfit in the Caribbean to experiment with CNG.

Other Alternative Fuels and their Benefits

Fuel derived from sources other than petroleum is beneficial for several reasons, including positive environmental impact, low costs, and renewability. Some fuel alternatives are:
1. Natural Gas – This is a naturally occurring gas that is formed from the decomposition of plant and animal matter. It is one of the cleanest burning alternative fuels and can be used in the form of compressed natural gas (CNG) to fuel passenger cars and city buses or in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to fuel heavy duty trucks.

2. Ethanol – This is made by fermenting and distilling crops, such as wheat and corn. This offers significant environmental benefits, as ethanol does not produce toxic emissions and is made from renewable materials. Jamaicans currently use gasoline blended with 10 per cent ethanol, E10, in the 87 and 90 octane grades. It has been shown to reduce carbon monoxide emissions from the gasoline and improve the quality of the fuel.

3. Biodiesel – This is an alternative fuel made from vegetable oils or animal fats. Vehicle engines can be modified to burn pure biodiesel. Alternatively, biodiesel can be mixed with petroleum diesel and used in unmodified engines. This fuel alternative is safe, biodegradable, and reduces air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide.

In 2017, the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) in collaboration with the University of Technology (UTech) began conducting small-scale vehicular trials of a diesel blend containing petroleum diesel and biodiesel made from the oil of castor beans. In 2018 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was inked between the two entities concretising the arrangement. Outcomes from the research will be used to create a document to implement a biodiesel energy policy for the country.

4. Electricity – This can be used to power battery-powered electric and fuel-cell vehicles. Battery powered electric vehicles store power in batteries that are recharged by plugging the vehicle into a standard electrical source. Fuel-cell vehicles run on electricity produced when hydrogen and oxygen are combined in the cell of the vehicle’s battery.

In February of 2019 the Government stated its intention to give prime focus to the development of an electric vehicle policy, which will create an enabling environment for the use of the technology in the public transportation space. The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo) will be collaborating with the State to begin installing electric vehicle charging stations in various parts of the island beginning in the last quarter of 2019.

For further information, please contact :

Ministry of Science, Energy, and Technology
36 Trafalgar Road
Kingston 10
Tel: 876-929-8990-9
Fax: 876-929-8103

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