My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Jamaica's going Nuclear can revive Bauxite, Manufacturing and Telecoms with Cheaper Electricity


Sunday, April 24, 2016

How Jamaica's going Nuclear can revive Bauxite, Manufacturing and Telecoms with Cheaper Electricity

Jamaica is finally getting serious about Nuclear power. And the IAEA (International Energy Atomic Agency) is here to help.

The idea of Nuclear power has the support of both the PNP (People's National Party) and the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) as noted in the article “Nuclear Gets Positive Energy - Government And Opposition Agree As International Agency Offers Help Whenever The Country Is Ready”, published Sunday April 10, 2016 by Ryon Jones, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Aman, while speaking after touring ICENS (International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences) at the UWI (University of the West Indies), declared that IAEA would assist Jamaica in going Nuclear, quote: “If you decide to use nuclear power generation we will help you to use it safely, securely and sustainably”.

The Minister of Energy, Science and Technology Andrew Wheatley has given support or the idea of using Nuclear power, but has given not timeline for it implementation. A serious public-education campaign has to be done to ensure Jamaica will not go down the same road as the Fukushima Nuclear accident in Japan that occurred on Friday March 11 2011 as detailed in my Geezam blog article entitled “Japan Nuclear Reactor Meltdown is the Asian Tiger Chernobyl

They're have to identify serious investors, as building a Nuclear Reactor is very expensive.

Aside from support from the IAEA, we've already passed a Jamaica passes Nuclear Safety and Radiation Act on Friday July 17 2015, paving the way for Nuclear Energy as predicted in my blog article entitled “Jamaica passes Nuclear Safety and Radiation Act - Why ICENS Slowpoke is being upgraded and How Nuclear Power may mean Cheaper 4G LTE”.

So why is Nuclear Energy of interest to Jamaica all of a sudden?

Jamaica considering Nuclear Energy - Why JPS Co does not need Nuclear Power as LNG is ok

For one, it can't be for generating electricity for Jamaicans.

JPS Co CEO Kelly Tomblin as declared that the cost of electricity has fallen some 7% for the month of April 2016 when compared to March 2016 as noted in the article “Seven Per Cent Cut In Light Bills This Month”, Published Wednesday April 20, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner

Still, the rates we're getting are some of the lowest in the Caribbean:

1.      US$0.19 per kilowatt hour for householders
2.      US$0.14 per kilowatt hour for industrial manufacturers

We’ve basically gone back in time some 10 years to when we last paid less than US$0.20 per kilowatt for electricity. This thanks to the price of oil falling to rock bottom at US$26 a barrel, mainly thanks to Iran now agreeing to cut output as noted in “Top oil countries fail to reach deal on production freeze”, published April 17, 2016 by Charles Riley and John Defterios, CNN Money

However, that was last week and things change really fast on Wall Street.

We're now in the midst of a two week rally as the price of oil is climbing again as noted in the article “Oil Producers Lock In Once-Snubbed Prices”, published April 24, 2016 by Timothy Puko and Erin Ailworth, The Wall Street Journal

It’s now at US$43.73 and climbing, which means that the prices we're experiencing now from JPS Co for electricity may soon rise. Still, these are some pretty low prices; production in Jamaica should increase even as investors hedge their bets on higher prices in the future as demand ramps up.

Also, JPS Co is going LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) with the help of American contractor New Fortress as noted in the article “JPS Gets Green Light To Build 190MW Plant”, Published Thursday March 24, 2016 by McPherse Thompson, The Jamaica Gleaner, prices for which is relatively cheap.

Nuclear energy could be something pursued later on when Jamaicans can comfortably live with a Nuclear Reactor on the island as pointed out by Minister of Energy, Science and Technology Andrew Wheatley, quote: “While we might not be ready for it (nuclear energy) now, it is something that is part of the energy policy, and some time down the road Jamaica might find itself in a position where we are able to utilise nuclear energy”.

So who else would need cheap electricity in large amounts?

Bauxite and Alumina Industry - Cheaper Electricity would revive Bauxite and Alumina Industry

A possible candidate would be the Bauxite Industry, manufacturing and Telecoms.

With the potential cost of electricity begin a low as US$0.06 per kilowatt-hour, it would give the Bauxite and Alumina industry a boost and wean us off imported oil altogether, to quote Opposition Minister Phillip Paulwell: “I believe that with nuclear you can get down to US$0.06 per kilowatt-hour”.

This as the cost of electricity, which is mainly produced by Bauxite mining companies from Diesel and Bunker C Heavy Oil is not cost effective enough to make the price of their bauxite competitive. This may have been a contributing factor to NAHC (Noranda Aluminium Holding Corporation), the holding company for Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners filing for bankruptcy in February 2016 as reported in the article “Noranda files for bankruptcy protection, plans to restructure”, published Monday, February 08, 2016, The Jamaica Observer.
A large source of cheap power, such as hydroelectric power from a very large river, Nuclear Power or a very large solar Steam system as described in my blog article entitled “BrightSource Energy Plant Concentrated Solar Rays Killing Birds - Pheromone Traps for Insects a Desert Feast to Keep the Birds Safe” would make mining bauxite, producing alumina and even making aluminium possible.

Nuclear power could potentially be a part of the rescue plan for the Government of Jamaica 51% stake in Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, which operates Noranda Bauxite Limited on their behalf as noted in “Finance Minister Meeting with Principals of Noranda”, published March 30, 2016 By Latonya Linton, The Jamaica Information Service.

Also, the most likely design would be a Thorium Reactor as opposed to a traditional uranium(IV) oxide (UO2) based reactor as described in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “What is Radioactivity, Half-Life and Radioisotopes”. 

Thorium Reactors in Jamaica – Jamaican Guinea Pig as Telecom Providers might be game

Thorium-90 reactors used in LFTR (Liquid fluorine Thorium Reactors), due to the liquid nature of their nuclear fuel, can be very small, with the Reactor Chamber fitting inside of a four bedroom apartment as pointed out by Opposition spokespersons on Energy, Phillip Paulwell, quote: “It is in the energy policy and I do believe that it will be a viable option, especially because we anticipate that the mini nuclear plants, what we call compact plants, will be fully developed in another five to 10 years”.

Opposition minister Paulwell is however, keeping an eye on them, as they may be the key to US$0.12 US$0.10 per kilowatt-hour in the future, quote: “That will enable us to have facilities that can generate up to 50 megawatts of capacity. Right now, the plants are huge and it wouldn't be therefore appropriate for Jamaica. These prototypes are being developed, we are aware of them and it will enable us to get to less than the US$0.12 US$0.10 per kilowatt-hour that I was fixed”.

Still, LFTR have a long way to go before they become commercially viable as Jamaica has no plans on becoming a guinea pig. However, Private Sector companies, including Telecom Providers, can potentially get a license to import and operate their own Private LFTR Reactor under the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Act as pointed out in my blog article entitled “Jamaica passes Nuclear Safety and Radiation Act - Why ICENS Slowpoke is being upgraded and How Nuclear Power may mean Cheaper 4G LTE”. 

So the Jamaica Government sudden interest in Nuclear power is not to produced cheap electricity for Jamaicans as we're not there yet to quote Minister of Energy, Science and Technology Andrew Wheatley: “Look at what is taking place now in other jurisdictions, especially parts of Europe, we are seeing very, very cheap energy in areas where they use nuclear energy, and we are also excited at the possibility of using it, but we are also mindful that where we are right now, we are not ready for it”.

Rather, it's to keep the Bauxite and alumina industry and eventually the manufacturing industry in Jamaica alive via a cheaper source of power that would make bauxite mining, alumina production and even making aluminum possible.

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