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SRC Separates Myth from Reality on Biofuels at Regional Renewable Energy Forum


James Moss- Solomon, Chairman, Scientific Research Council (SRC) making his presentation at the recently concluded Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF).

James Moss- Solomon, Chairman, Scientific Research Council (SRC) making his presentation at the recently concluded Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF).

Energy Ministers and officials from across the Caribbean, a US government delegation, representatives from the public and private sectors and development banks were present at the recently concluded Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF) held in Montego Bay at the Ritz Carlton on October 16, 2009. The forum sought to discuss and give impetus  to the renewable energy agenda for the region.

The two-day conference comprised several panels encompassing areas such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar energy, wind energy and waste-to-energy. Panels also addressed issues of financing, the harnessing of renewable energy potential as well as regulations.

Minister of Energy, James Robertson representing the Honourable Prime Minister, opened the event with a welcome address which spoke to Jamaica’s renewable energy focus as well as the country’s commitment to a well established ethanol production industry.

The event was highlighted by the announcement by Minister Robertson of two waste-to-energy plants slated for early construction in Jamaica.

The panel on biomass was chaired by Mr. Aubyn Hill, Chief Executive Officer of Corporate Strategies Ltd. Speakers included C.J. Claiborne, President and CEO of the New generation Biofuels (USA) and Dr. Frederique Abreu, Hemispheric Coordinator of Agroenergy and Biofuels at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation (Costa Rica).

Mr. James Moss- Solomon, Chairman of the Scientific Research Council, Jamaica was also a panellist and in his presentation entitled “Separating Myth from Reality: Realistic Biofuel Options for Jamaica” provided insight into Jamaica’s biofuels option and the way forward.

The Reality
With 95% of Jamaica’s energy use derived from oil, gasoline and diesel were highlighted as the fuels to be replaced by biofuels. Based on research, Mr. Moss-Solomon offered two viable biofuel options for medium to large scale production: (1) sugarcane- to produce ethanol and (2) jatropha for the production of bio-diesel. The potential of cellulosic ethanol from algae was mentioned with caution that more research is required. Corn, soybeans and rapeseed were among those not considered viable for Jamaica.

Our Viable Biodiesel Options
Two scenarios were offered for consideration. Scenario I focused solely on achieving a target of 50% diesel replacement by biofuels, the actual savings to the energy import costs was 9.5% of the total energy import bill. Here sugarcane ethanol accounted for 17% and jatropha 50% towards the actual contribution to the energy demand for diesel and gasoline respectively.

However, Scenario II, focused on achieving a 50% target in diesel and gasoline replacement by biofuels, the actual saving to the energy import costs was 15%. Here sugarcane ethanol still accounted for 17%, but jatropha had increased to 86% towards the actual contribution to the energy demand for diesel and gasoline respectively. This could be achieved through immediate cultivation of 43,000 acres of sugarcane and 63,500 acres of jatropha.

SRC also sought to examine the biofuels and waste-to-energy technologies in the projected energy mix for 2015. Waste-to-energy sources which includes municipal waste, domestic/sewage waste and industrial/agro industrial waste. Utilization of the potential waste-to-energy technology Biodigester Septic Tank- BST (anaerobic) coupled with other WTE technologies could contribute as much as 7% to Jamaica’s energy mix by 2015. This of course is dependent on policies being put in place to support the use these technologies of choice for waste treatment in Jamaica.

Comparison: Energy Mix to 2015 (SRC)

Comparison: Energy Mix to 2015 (Proposed by SRC)

In Jamaica’s current energy policy, projections are for renewables to contribute 12.5% to the energy mix by 2015, with 0.5% arising from other sources such as waste to energy. On the other hand, in the speaker’s proposal, the energy mix projections for 2015 for Jamaica would see 22.9% arising from renewables and 7% from sources such as waste-to-energy.

In paving the way forward, Mr. Moss-Solomon opinioned that:

•    The production of biofuel crops begin immediately through partnerships for technology, technical support and investment.
•    Research on micro-algae varieties in Jamaica should commence.
•    A policy be established for the use of Anaerobic technology
•    Greater utilization of municipal, sewage, industrial/agro-industrial waste (biogas) for electricity generation
•    A review of building codes and creation of legislation to include Renewable Energy designs

In closing Mr. Moss-Solomon also went on to highlight the benefits to be derived from such actions including private sector investments, reduction in petroleum imports and greater energy security.

The projects of the Scientific Research Council have supported the growth and development of the agro-industrial sector in Jamaica through original research and adaptation of appropriate technologies such as biodigesters through is Wastewater Management Unit that also offers training and technical assistance to the industry.

SRC is the regional headquarters for the Caribbean Energy Information System (CEIS) and was an official partner for CREF. It developed and currently manages the Caribbean Information Platform on Renewable Energy (CIPORE).

CIPORE currently averages over 250,000 hits per month since its launch in April 2009 and serves as the Caribbean’s information and communication system for renewable energy.

All presentations made at CREF are accessible online at at this link location



Caribbean Energy Information System
Scientific Research Council,
Hope Gardens,
Tel: 876-927-1779
Fax: 876-927-1840

Category/ies:Jamaica News.
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