My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Russians see potential in Ethanol Fuel Plant in Jamaica – From Russia With Love for sorghum

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Russians see potential in Ethanol Fuel Plant in Jamaica – From Russia With Love for sorghum

It seems everybody in the International sphere is suddenly is interested in investing in investing in Jamaica’s Energy Sector. This has been noticeable ever since the partial Liberalization of the Sector initiated by former Energy and Mining Minister Clive Mullings  as stated in my blog article entitled “Solamon Energy Corp & Green RG invest in Jamaica's Alternative Energy Future - Let the Cheaper Energy Hunger Games for Latin America Begin

Even more interesting, is that even with the change of Government from JLP (Jamaica Labour Party to PNP (People’s National Party), the GOJ is being rather bullish about FDI investment. This based on the reaction to the JAMPRO (Jamaica Promotions Corporation) sponsored Jamaica Investment Forum recently held on Thursday March 1st 2012AD and on Friday March 2nd 2012AD at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.

This as per the Press Release by the JIS (Jamaica Information Service) entitled “Russians Interested in Setting up Ethanol Plant”, published Sunday March 4th 2012 by Donna-Marie Rowe, Jamaica Information Service. The news, also echoed by the Jamaica Observer today Tuesday March 6th 2012 in the article “Russians interested in setting up ethanol plant”, published  Tuesday, March 06, 2012 by JIS via the Jamaica Observer, is an interesting series of Developments, as it indicates that another form of Energy Sector Liberalization is also under way: Biofuel.

Russia is interested in setting up an Ethanol Plant, using sorghum, a sugar cane-like grass as the feedstock. Whether this would be feasible in our country where land for growing food is at a premium and most farmers have their land under cultivation with Tobacco as it makes more money as stated in my blog article entitled “Rise of King Tobacco threatens Agriculture for Food – Vybz Kartel Hot Grabba killing Marijuana Farming” remains to be seen.

Maybe they plan to grow the sorghum under the Solar Panels that Solarmon Energy Corp from out of Canada plan to erect on three (3) fifty (50) acre Solar farms most likely located in three (3) separate parishes here in Jamaica as per my Geezam Blog article entitled “Solamon Energy Corporation to build Caribbean’s Largest Solar Plant – Jamaica to get a Green Energy Boost”? Who knows…..

Consultant, Peter Mitchell who chaperoned the Russian Investors at JAMPRO’s Jamaica Investment Forum, was visibly upbeat though when JIS interviewed him, quote: “We have been able to get ministers sitting together with us and talking. Soon we will have something going with the investors putting up the money. Everybody is enthusiastic so far.  As far as I am concerned, it was well worth coming over”.

Similar sentiments were expressed by other investors in other fields aside from Energy, as it relates to the level of involvement of the various Government of Jamaica Ministers, who apparently cleared their busy schedules to be guest speakers at the JAMPRO sponsored Jamaica Investment Forum:

  • Ministers of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips
  • Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell
  • Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill
  • Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke
  • Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson
Quite unusual for minister to be this personally involved in a Conference, especially as they could have sent their Junior Ministers to represent them. An obvious change in the PNP’s stance on FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) with a more business centric focus is very welcome, especially with the dark clouds of the US Recession lingering despite the uptick in Remittances as reported in the article “Remittance companies bullish as transfers hit new recordPublished Sunday March 4, 2012 by Avia Collinder, Business Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner

This oft neglected section of the Energy Sector is set to get more prominence, as the high cost of motor vehicle fuel affecting everyone and the manufacture of Biofuel substitutes for Gasoline and Diesel that can work in your motor vehicle are of interest to most Jamaicans. Effectively folks, we are witnessing the beginning of Energy Sector Liberalization of the BioFuel Sector as opined in my blog articles:

This is especially if the fuel is low cost and may actually be good for the engine in terms of helping to lower vehicle maintenance costs, such as the use of Auto LPG as stated in my Geezam Blog article entitled “Auto LPG as a Motor Vehicle Fuel”. Even US President Barack Obama is pursuing the increased usage of Auto LPG as noted in the article “A push for cheaper, safer natural gas cars”, published , GigaOM.

Albeit truth be told, his recommendation is an indication that the US is worried about unstable Oil prices in the Middle East due to the recent actions of Iran as stated in the article “INSIGHT - Catch me if you can - Oil sanctions against Iran”, published  Tue Mar 6, 2012 8:37pm IST By Peg Mackey, Reuters.

This as the US Military and the US Central Government has been gradually weaning itself off its dependence on Imported Fossil Fuels since 2010AD with an emphasis on the Long term development of Alternative Energy Resources as stated in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and the President - Three Days of the Condor

Despite this, the main advantages of BioFuels derived from plant material are:

  • Lower sulphur content of the fuel, which is good for spark plug
  • Cleaner Combustion chamber
  • Cleaner Air being pumped into the environment
Already, local Jamaican company National Bakery has spearheaded the processing of leftover vegetable Oil such ass cashew and peanut Oil from their baking business as Biodiesel, an initiative of National Bakery’s Fleet Manager Michael Lodenquai as reported in the article “Running on Greens” published Sunday March 4, 2012 by Christopher Serju, Sunday Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

A benefit to National Bakery in the long term, despite the slow process to make Biodiesel, as the sulphur content is significantly lower than fuel coming from the PCJ (Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica) Refineries. Not only that, the process can be scaled up to eventually become economical enough to allow National Bakery to go into the business of manufacturing BioDiesel on a large scale by recovering Cooking Oil islandwide as well as processing organic material into BioDiesel and even Ethanol as the Russians are planning to do.

Albeit the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) is soon to implement changes to the Refinery to lower the sulphur levels from 5000ppm (parts per million) to the more internationally acceptable 5ppm to 15 ppm as per my blog article entitled “ATL Automotive to benefit from Low-Sulphur Diesel in 12 Months Time - Bio-Fuels Resident Evil Apocalypse” waiting on the GOJ is not an advisable option.

Thus it is with much excitement that I welcome this development, as aside from the coming of All-Electric Vehicles to Jamaica as surmised in my Geezam blog article entitled “Oregon-based Porteon to assemble All-Electric Vehicles in Jamaica – One By One” and my blog article entitled “Porteon to manufacture All-Electric Vehicles in St. Lucia - Strengthening CARICOM ties with Jamaican Skilled Labour”.

This potential Russian investment in the burgeoning Biofuels manufacturing Sector represents yet another Liberalization of the Energy Sector as well as an opportunity for companies to make local and Foreign Exchange Revenue while being friendly to the Environment. From Russia with Love (1963) indeed!

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