My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Alternative Energy and Biofuels - LNG is the beginning

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Alternative Energy and Biofuels - LNG is the beginning

It seems that motorists are somewhat blissfully unaware of the impending switch long before 2015 to E85 by the Government of Jamaica, as based on numerous articles, such as the article “E10 not so sweet”, published 21st February 2010, by Laranzo Dacres, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner as if they were, they would realize that they will soon have to purchase new Vehicles or at least change their engines in order for them to be able to use E85.

The year is significant as it is the year predicted by the article IEA official warns of shrinking Oil supplies: Report”, Sunday August 2nd, 9:04 pm ET, AFP, Yahoo News in which Oil production around the world would have been outstripped by demand.

Thus prices of Oil would be driven by demand only and not speculators, an outrageous fortune that has been forecasted by none other than Sir Richard Branson and British Business Leaders in the article “World faces Oil crunch by 2015”, published Sunday 14 February 2010, The Sunday Herald (AFP).

If Jamaica is still has an economy dependent on Oil and still importing Oil for Energy purposes by 2015 with no net investment (Local and foreign) and increase in production as opposed to an emphasis on services, the global inflationary effect that this increase in the main driver of production will have will most certainly force the entire world into a Second Recession

This is now possible and shaping up to occur in the United States of America, due to its reliance on debt to encourage spending in the short term, its abundance of ill-placed faith in the Services Sector and lack of investment in the Production Sector.

This Second Recession, referred to as a Double Dip Recession or “W” shaped Recession Recovery as opposed to a long term “U” shaped Recession Recovery is a theory which is echoed by Dennis Chung in the article “RISK OF A DOUBLE-DIP RECESSION?” published Friday, September 18, 2009, contributed by Dennis Chung, The Jamaica Observer.

And yet there is hope, in the form of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) adoption by the Government of Jamaica as stated in the article “Government eyes LNG cure for Energy problems”, published Wednesday June 16 2010 by Laura Redpath, Senior Staff Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner and soon to occur in the United States of America as stated in the article “Fuel of the future?, published Sunday July 4 2010 by Dwight Bellanfante, Gleaner Writer The Jamaica Gleaner.

Thus the Government of Jamaica would seem to have already fired the first salvos against the coming Second Recession based on Peak Oil, having announced from last year that Certified New and Used Car Dealers were not being allowed to import Cars that were more than three (3) years old, leaving many in the Certified New and Used Car industry to wonder how they would survive

Such Vehicles were priced out of the reach of ordinary Jamaicans and at the time of the announcement, many of them had already ordered and have in stock Vehicles that were older than stipulated by the Government of Jamaica directive and thus cannot be sold in Jamaica.

This is aimed at curbing Jamaica’s appetite for foreign and imported automobiles as most would naturally be priced over JA$1 million and improve the quality and E85 compliance of the Vehicles on our roadways as well as to reduce the number of outdated Vehicles entering the Jamaican road network and protect the environment, as Jamaica, being a Developing Country, is being used as a dumping ground for Motor Vehicles that people in the Developed World no longer drive.

Once this strategy begins to lose traction, as demand for motor Vehicles are elastic, especially in a Recession, the Government of Jamaica is planning to allow persons to purchase Vehicles via an exchange program similar to “Cash for Clunkers” deals that were now popular in Europe and the United States of America in 2009.

The emphasis will be on getting motorists to purchase flex fuel Vehicles via select Certified New and Used Car Dealers, after the fly-by-night operations, under pressure due to the new regulations, have folded and gone out of business, making the current New and Used Car Market less cluttered and more tax compliant.

These chosen few, would with assistance from the Government of Jamaica be able to waive all taxes and insurance for one (1) year on the first time purchase of Vehicles that are E85, Flex-fuel (able to use Bio-Diesel, Ethanol or Ethanol blended fuel) or Electric Hybrid compliant such as the Nissan Leaf as described in the article “Nissan Leaf Projected to be in the black”, published April 30, 2010 5:44 AM PDT by Reuters, CNET News - Green Tech as well as in the article “Nissan begin limited test-drives for Leaf EV” published June 11, 2010 6:32 AM PDT by Reuters, CNET News - Green Tech.

Now the 2011 Nissan Leaf has a noisemaker to make its otherwise stealthy approach have a presence as stated in the article “Nissan Leaf brings the noise”, published June 11, 2010 9:51 AM PDT by Wayne Cunningham, CNET News- The Car Tech blog and now able to achieve a driving range of 100 kilometers as stated in the article “Nissan Leaf has 100-mile range - give ot take 40 percent”, published June 21, 2010 10:43 AM PDT by Automotive News, CNET News - The Car Tech blog.

Thus making it suitable for the Certified New and Used Car Dealers to petition the Senator James Robertson, Minister of Energy and Mining to begin to set standards for the installation of electric charging stations easily located using a GPS enabled smart phone and an App installed such as on the Apple iPhone as stated in the article “Network Web-Savvy EV-charging stations on tap”, published June 2, 2010 7:57 AM PDT by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech.

Or Google Android powered Motorola Droid, soon to be launched in Jamaica by Digicel ………..fodder again for another well researched ditty from yours truly.

Electric Cars are possibly going to be as popular as the Apple iPhones in the United States of America or so it would seem the statistics presented in a Consumer Report by the Consumer Reports National Survey Center would suggest as stated in the article “Survey: Consumers intrigued by electric Cars”, published March 19, 2010 8:53 AM PDT by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech.

In a survey of nearly 1,752 consumers, 26% of people would go electric on their next purchase, with 7% considering the possibility, not wishing to sacrifice much on performance as opposed to a traditional Diesel or E85 motor vehicle yet concerned about saving money if an All-Electric Vehicle would enable them to achieve this aim.

Rollout of all electric Vehicles is heavily predicated on the installation of electric Charging stations and common standards for the automotive industry as it relates to All-Electric Vehicles. Albeit also seen as a big thumbs down for the All-Electric Vehicle adoption with two-thirds (2/3) of the customers poled not interested in the purchase of an all electric vehicle, one must be wistfully optimistic in accepting the fact that the main deterrent is price

If it were to fall into the same range as a traditional Diesel or Gasoline powered vehicle, would drive the sales and faster adoption of these Vehicles, making them as common as washing machines or cell phones as hopefully opined in the article “Will electric Cars spread like cell phones or washing machines?”, published May 14, 2010 11:49 AM PDT by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech by Deloitte Consulting which indicated an adoption of All-Electric Vehicles in the United States of America of 2% to 5.6% by 2020, numbering between 285,000 and 840,000 units.

Using the Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S, both All-Electric Vehicles another analyst Credit Suisse estimates 335,000 electric Cars by 2020 while Citi forecasts more than 1 million (1,000,000) and the Traffic Safety Administration says 750,000.  

Deloitte consultant Rebecca Ranish puts in perspective, comparing the adoption of All-Electric Vehicles to washing machines and dryers, which were luxury items until as she put it, “The telephone, the radio, the refrigerator were all reliant on infrastructure to support adoption and in some cases may have been slowed by infrastructure.

Electric Vehicles will have a similar series of challenges”. And like the Apple iPhone, consultant Robert Hill is quoted as saying that “There are plenty of early adopters, but the real question is about the early majority. That segment is big enough to start a mass adoption curve”, indicative of a typical market driven by early-adopters, much like smart phones were back in early 2007.

If the adoption of All-Electric Vehicles and the construction of the necessary infrastructure were accelerated in Jamaica in tandem with Government of Jamaica subsidies for All-Electric Vehicles, making All-Electric Vehicles artificially cheaper

It would encourage the Certified New and Used Car Dealer Market to sell these Vehicles, perceived as a niche market device. This reduction of importation taxes is possible due to the reduction in interest rates spreads that has now been achieved as intended by the Prime Minister Bruce Golding in the article “'No more skylarking' - PM outlines economic programme and debt exchange”, published Thursday, January 14, 2010 by Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter, the Jamaica Gleaner, The Jamaica Gleaner via the JDX (Jamaica Debt Exchange) as stated in the article “JDX ends at 99 per cent; Minister says thanks”, published Thursday, February 25, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

The stabilization of the dollar and the reduction of inflation by using the money borrowed from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) as balance of payment in the Central Bank is now having the effect of making borrowing to purchase said All-Electric Vehicles more attractive as noted by the Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA) President Titus Evans in the article “JDX makes exporting more attractive”, published Wednesday, April 21, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

Currently in the All-Electric Vehicles market, the Nissan Leaf is the innovator, followed by the Chevy Volt as stated in the article “Eclectic Electrics”, published May 13, 2010, 5:00PM EST by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, FEATURES - BusinessWeek.

The Tesla S is one.

Other entrants are soon on the horizon from unusual manufacturers, such as the phone battery maker BYD China as stated in the article “BYD dreams of Electric Cars”, published June 28, 2010, 3:10PM EST By Inder Sidhu, BusinessWeek - BOOK EXCERPT and ford with its All-Electric Vehicle, the Focus Electric, slated to debut in 2011.

Another, much more cost effective way this diversification from a current 90% dependence on Oil in the Jamaican Energy Market can be achieved in the medium to long term, is going LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) and having FDI (Foreign Direct Investors) specializing in vehicle conversions to come to Jamaica to do vehicle conversions

Such as Zap, a company that does such conversions in silicon Valley and is famous for its current conversion project, which involves converting U. S. Postal Service Gasoline powered Vehicles to E85-Elecric Hybrid Vehicles as stated in the article “A day at Zap: The Future of Electric Fleet Cars has arrived”, published July 1, 2010 12:53 PM PDT by Suzanne Ashe, CNET News - The Car Tech blog.

Also Ford, which is currently converting its popular Transit Connect line of vans to All-Electric Vehicles for customers as stated in the article “Ford to debut all-electric Transit Connect van”, published February 9, 2010 11:21 AM PST by Lance Whitney, CNET News - The Car Tech blog.

Locally, there are entrepreneurs that can achieve vehicle conversions to LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas), a derivative of LNG, mainly in the form of Challenger Transport Corporation Ltd (926-6414). Challenger Transport Corporation Ltd (926-6414), a company more known for the rental of buses and trucks, has decided to launch the installation and servicing of such units in Jamaica which is already common in Dominican Republic

This after apparently having undergone two (2) years of extensive training of its technicians to be ISO9001 certified to not only offer the installation but the sole maintenance of the units based on the presentation made on “Smile Jamaica Morning Time broadcast 8:15am March 16th 2010 on Television Jamaica and explained in some detailed in my blog article entitled “LPG and the Challenger Transport Co. Ltd - A Cheaper Fuel

Other companies that do this type of conversion are soon to appear.

One such could be a partnership annex between Carlos Slim owned AMX, operating under the brand name of CLARO can partner with Challenger Transport Company Ltd (926-6414) the Technology Partner, Gas Pro (928-7301) and IGL Gas Ltd (923-8434) the Distribution Partners and PEMEX (Petroleos Mexicanos) the LPG Supplier to provided a VAS (Value Added Service).

This VAS being the retrofitting of Vehicles to work with LPG, a very popular option in Dominican Republic and thus an implicit benefit to CLARO in terms of reducing the cost of operating its fleet Vehicles as well as its generators by retrofitting them to work with LPG as explained in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and Telecom Providers - An Environmental Marketing Strategy”.

This would lead the way in a clean Energy Revolution that not only will save the environment but also save the Government of Jamaica billions of US dollars on the cost of imported Oil.

It also bears repeating that my main point in that it would drive the cost of Energy to more business-friendly levels and thus be a driver of growth in our economy by virtue of lowering Energy Costs in terms of Electricity Generation and Transportation as my blog articles thus far suggest.

This as Senator James Robertson, Minister of Energy and Mining seems to be effectively promising with the implementation of LNG by 2012 and re-negotiating JPS Co 2001 license to allow for a rate increase every five (5) years as stated in the article “Government eyes LNG cure for Energy problems”, published Wednesday June 16 2010 by Laura Redpath, Senior Staff Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

It even offers a solution to the little known and ill-published scourge of Diesel Fuel Theft from generators and may even lead to increased co-location on Telecom Providers cell sites allowing the usage of the same generator to power multiple Node B’s or BTS (Base Transceiver Stations) by Telecom Provider’s LIME and CLARO, otherwise known as RBS (Remote Base Station) by Telecom Provider Digicel.

Conversions would involve being able to make a Diesel or E10 vehicle have its engine replaced or modified to become a E85, flex fuel or Electric Hybrid vehicle via a partnership with the Certified User Car Dealer, also with all taxes waived in order to encourage motorists to take up the opportunity.

While this is ongoing, the Government of Jamaica will have to do an island wide heavily publicized radio, televisions and newspaper education campaign via the JIS (Jamaica Information Service) to encourage more Jamaican to exchange their old Cars for new ones, effectively a JDX (Jamaica Debt Exchange) - of sorts - for motor Vehicles.

With the issuing of the Energy Policy by Senator James Robertson, Minister of Energy and Mining and recent statements by him indicating a timeline for conversion to be within four (4) years achievable by 2014 as stated in the article “Government eyes LNG cure for Energy problems”, published Wednesday June 16 2010 by Laura Redpath, Senior Staff Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The promise of a 25% to 35% reduction in the electricity bills of JPS Co is a likely possibility.

This possibility has increased thanks in part to its endorsement by none other than Ernest Moniz, Director of the prestigious engineering institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently in Time Magazine, a prestigious USA publication

 Ernest Moniz posits the fact that LNG deposits accounts for only 24% of the Electricity Generation within the United States of America, yet they possess 98% of the LNG that they use to generate this 24% electricity demand as stated in the article “Fuel of the Future ?, published Sunday July 4 2010 by Dwight Bellanfante, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Thus, if the good Senator James Robertson, Minister of Energy and Mining plays his card right and diversifies the Energy Sector both in terms of Energy Sector Liberalization in terms of Electricity and the fuel used by Motor Vehicles as is now shaping up in our closest neighbor, Cuba as stated in the article “Gulf Oil spill reignites Caribbean Energy Security”, published Sunday June 20 2010 by David Jessop, This Week in Europe Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

It is expected to be a boom time of those who are early investors in the soon to be liberalized Energy Sector, both Local and foreign investors alike.

It will attract investors both from Local Private Sector Companies as well as FDI (Foreign Direct Investors) interested in capitalizing in the Local Energy Market, both in providing competitive electricity generation solutions, based on either a centralized model or a distributed model.

There is the burgeoning bio-fuels Market for motor vehicle and generators with benefits to customers, the environment and to the Government of Jamaica.

Increased Tax Revenues from these Alternative Energy solutions as well as from the reduction of our massive Oil importation bill will satiate our hunger for foreign imported Oil and in the process driving inflation down.

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