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PCJ researching biodiesel as transport fuel

Published:Friday | April 8, 2016 | 4:00 AM

PCJ researching biodiesel as transport fuel

McPherse Thompson

Assistant Editor - Business

Petroleum Corpora-tion of Jamaica (PCJ),

the state-owned entity mandated to manage the country's energy needs, is currently researching the feasibility of using biodiesel as an alternative source of energy for the local transport industry.

That is according to PCJ's Group Chief Financial Officer, Robert Clarke, who noted that it was the corporation which introduced biofuels to Jamaica with the roll-out of ethanol.

A biofuel is a fuel that is produced through contemporary biological processes such as agriculture and anaerobic digestion by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen, rather than a fuel produced by geological processes involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum, from prehistoric biological matter.

Biodiesel refers to a vegetable oil, or animal fat-based diesel fuel. Biodiesel is typically made by chemically reacting lipids - for example, vegetable oil, soybean oil or animal fat - with alcohol producing fatty acid esters.

Biodiesel is meant to be used in standard diesel engines.

Clarke said the corporation is also driving the development of Jamaica's hydro resources and is now awaiting a response from the Office of Utilities Regulation for a bid proposal to build a two-megawatt hydro plant at the Laughlands Great River in St Ann.

"If our proposal is approved, our hydro project could potentially supply an average of 13,002 megawatt hours of energy to the grid each year," said Clarke, while addressing the opening ceremony of

the PCJ-sponsored Jamaica Alternative Energy Expo at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston, on Thursday.

In all of those endeavours "we have one objective, which is to identify and exploit Jamaica's indigenous energy resources to secure affordable supplies for the nation," he said.

Clarke said the PCJ is also responsible for educating consumers and it was primarily in that capacity that they are again the title sponsor of the alternative energy expo.

"We see this event as an effective vehicle for fulfilling the ultimate goal of all our public education efforts, which is to foster a population that uses energy efficiently and wisely," he added.

In remarks made on behalf of Minister of Energy, Science and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley, permanent secretary in the ministry, Hillary Alexander, said the expo affords an opportunity for technocrats, regulators, policymakers, suppliers and consumers to interface in the same space and collaborate in the search for alternative energy solutions that will benefit individuals and the nation as a whole.

"Alternative energy sources are of great value, particularly as the global conversation on energy is taking a more serious look at issues related to climate change and cleaner energy sources," she said.

Alexander said that as the conversation advances, there are greater opportunities for the creative application of alternative energy sources to generate electrical power for residential, commercial and institutional consumers, as well as fuel transportation systems."

Plans for the energy sector includes enforcement of energy-efficiency standards and codes for appliances and buildings, with the goal of reducing energy consumption in new buildings by 50 per cent by 2020, and ensuring that all new buildings use zero net energy by 2025.

The Alternative Energy Expo is an annual event which showcases the latest and emerging technology, products and solutions designed to reduce energy usage and cost. More than 40 organisations involved in various aspects of the energy industry are mounting exhibits over the two-day show, which ends today, Friday.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com