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Jamaica's Energy Future


Permalink 12:34:36 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Technology, Commentary

Jamaica's Energy Future

We live in a world where energy controls our lives, the mere fact that you are reading this article right now means that you have used some amount of energy, the mere fact that I typed this article means that I also used some energy myself. Even if you are gonna tell me that you are smarter than the rest of us and printed the article on recycled paper on your energy saving printer, think about this: It cost roughly 3000 kWh to make 1 ton of paper, A small printer uses 156 kWh per year, add to this the energy cost to make the ink cartridges, the energy cost to turn on your computer, the energy cost to run your modem etc. When you add all of this together, just to print this article alone is really high. Reading it on a computer isn't that more energy efficient either so I wont even go there. But what I'm getting at is that we need energy to do everything, and the major problem for Jamaica (and the majority of the world), is that we get our energy from oil, a limited resource that we do not ourselves have... yet.

We have taken steps to try to stem our need for oil by implementing an Ethanol blend into our fuel. Ethanol is a renewable resource which you get by fermenting cane into alcohol, and like alcohol it can burn and produce energy which is why it can be a suitable substitute for fuel. However there is a slight problem in that our current mechanical devices are not able to take pure ethanol as fuel, so we have to blend the ethanol. Of course this means that we still rely on oil to some extent, though thankfully a little less. However with an oil bill that calculates to US$1.4 billion annually, one would think it would be high time that we take a few steps to change our energy future, its either that or continue to dig a deeper hole of debt for us to bury ourselves in.

Our current Energy Minister James Robertson seems to agree with me on that point, but only to an extent. He states the major strain that ethanol production is having on Jamaica in that we are now short on mollasses, an important ingredient in the production of rum, which is another major industry in Jamaica. His solution involves the move to Liquified Natural Gas LNG to offset the cost of regular oil due to the fact that it is a much cheaper alternative to oil. Robertson also goes on to state that the high cost of renewable energy is another reason why it makes no sense to continue to stick with that as our source of energy. One cannot deny that his argument is in fact very sound, with the exception of one thing. The mere fact that LNG is a natural gas means that supplies of this are also limited to the amount stored up in the earth, and eventually when the supplies of LNG become limited, the prices will begin to rise again and we will yet again be placed in more and more debt.

I would propose that Instead of focusing on using these non-renewable resources, we focus on the resources that we have readily available to us, things that will eventually pay for themselves given enough time. Being a caribbean island we are lucky enough to have the sun steadily available to us on average 5 days out of the week. Solar Energy is therefore much more cost effective for us than for other countries. The only major cost we would have to bear from Solar energy use would be in the form of the cost of batteries which do not have extremely long life cycles, however the Solar Panels do have a long life and would be able to last in excess of 20 years with the only level of maintenance needed would be to clean them. If the government takes steps in making this type of energy more attractive to consumers and also subsidizes the cost, at the end of the day this will cut our fuel bill by an even greater amount than LNG can do, and it will last for as long as the sun still burns (it will be burning for a while).

solar panels

We also have the wonderful sea breeze that is almost constantly available on the coastline and also in the mountains. There are even currently successful windfarms in use in Manchester and St. Elizabeth which have helped to reduce the cost of energy to those parishes, but yet we still want to focus on using non-renewable resources to solve our energy problem

Wind farm

There are also multiple other sustainable energy solutions which are available which can be taken from the earth at low long term costs. Things such as Tides and Wave energy are all readily available to the Jamaican populace for our energy needs, however we refuse to think about investing in them because we continue to look at the short term costs instead of the long term benefits. Maybe that is the problem that we need to fix, maybe it is a mindset that really needs to be changed. After all I can remember none of the governments ever taking a step to help sustainable energy gain popularity, both governments have instead been spending most of their time trying to find cheaper gas and different types of gas.

In the end however we need to remember that while we have grown to accept oil as our go to type of energy, we need to expand our horizons so that we can create a better energy future for Jamaica. After all, even if we do find oil in Jamaica, how long till we have tapped that well dry?

How long until we have to ask ourselves the question... what next?

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Bruk Pocket Jamaican

"Recently, this Jamaican won the 10 million special lottery for a dollar. As soon as the office of the Lottery Corporation was open on the following day, he was there to collect his winnings.

Graciously, he presented his winning ticket to the clerk and in his best English uttered his request "Me cum fi collect the 10 millian dallars, si me ticket ya".

After reviewing and checking the ticket with his manager, the clerk returned and requested on how he would like his payments. The Jamaican replied "Mi wan all a de moni now". "Unfortunately, Sir" the nervous clerk responded, "The procedures are that we can only give you one million now and the balance equally over the next 20 years".

Furious and agitated, the Jamaican asked for the manager, who re-iterated "Sir, my assistant is correct, it is the regulation of the corporation that we initially pay you one million dollars now with the balance paid to you equally over the next 20 years".

Outraged, the Jamaican slammed his hand on the desk and shouted in anger, "Oonu tek me fi idiat, me wan all a de moni now or oonu gi me bak me rass dallar!!"


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