My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: 2017

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goat Islands a UNESCO Biosphere Preserve in order to fight Green Iguana Invasion

“The two Goat Islands are a very special part of our Jamaican heritage, as is the Jamaican Iguana.....I look forward to visiting Jamaica's newest wildlife sanctuary in the near future, and congratulate the Government of Jamaica for this long-awaited decision”

Diana McCaulay, JET outgoing CEO on the decision to make Goat Islands in the PBPA (Portland Bight Protected Area) a Wildlife Sanctuary

Folks the unthinkable has happened…..and it's all good!!!

As we close off 2017, we start on a good note for Goat Islands in the PBPA (Portland Bight Protected Area).

The UDC (Urban Development Corporation) has decided to declare the area as a Wildlife Sanctuary as reported in the article “JET Celebrates Goat Islands Being Declared A Wildlife Sanctuary”, Published Thursday December 14, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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The JET (Jamaica Environment Trust) received the news from NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency) Wednesday December 13 2017. The UDC and NEPA will establish as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Biosphere Programme.

These were the same Goat Islands that the Government led by the PNP in 2014 had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese to construct a transhipment port. In 2016, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that the Goat Islands were to be protected and halted the Hub plans.

Suzanne Stanley, incoming chief executive officer (CEO) of JET, was very pleased that the Save Goat Islands campaign had finally achieved its aim, quote: “We are elated to hear this news. The Save Goat Islands campaign has been one of JET's greatest successes to date under Diana's leadership, and this is a great note on which to celebrate her retirement”

But why the sudden change of plans by Prime Minister Andrew Holness?

Goat Islands a UNESCO Biosphere Preserve – Cashing in on Nature Tourism as Green Iguanas Invade

On the surface, it appears to have been made possible thanks to vigorous opposition by the following groups:

1.      JET
2.      Managers of the PBPA
3.      The CCAM (Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation)
4.      Other interested parties

But it wasn't really these people and groups that won the day. Government don't just scrap Memorandum of Understanding with multibillion dollar partners unless something of greater importance may have come along.

More important than Chinese Money; Iguana Tourism.

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In this case it's all about iguanas....or possible an ongoing invasion of Green Iguanas in Jamaica similar to what's happening in the Cayman Islands as explained in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “Iguana Invasion in Cayman Island presents Iguana Meat Export Opportunity”. 

Yes, Jamaica doesn’t have any Green Iguanas, but blue ones.

NEPA and UNDP jointly run a Jamaica Invasive Species Database as pointed out in my blog article entitled “NEPA and UNDP Jamaica Invasive Species Database - Why Jamaicans may be the Environment's worst Enemy”, so teaming up in this way makes sense, as they can protect the indigenous Blue Iguana from the more aggressive Green Iguanas set to invade Jamaica in 2018!!

Tourism, after all, is the biggest money earner, even more than mining.

Our natural environment, for better or for worse, is attracting more Airbnb visitors as noted in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Tourism says Airbnb brings 32,000 to Jamaica to Bob Marley's Trench Town”.  

But with the threat of an impending Green Iguana invasion as noted in my blog article entitled “Why Jamaica faces a Green Iguana Invasion and how eating Iguana Patties may help”, by making the area protected, it will preserve these rare animals as part of a push towards Nature tourism.

So it only makes sense for the Ministry of Tourism and the Government to be seen as protectors of the environment, making more tourism dollars in the process....while they secretly prepare to fight the coming invasion of Green Iguanas that threaten to derail their Nature Tourism cashcow....

JPS, USAID and How removing 60% import duty on Electric Vehicle will reduce Jamaica's Oil Bill

“Electric vehicles have a positive contribution to make to our economy. Not only do they have zero emissions, and are therefore good for the environment, but they can also potentially lead to the significant reduction of the fuel import bill which the country now bears”

JPS Senior Vice President of Energy Delivery, Sheree Martin, commenting on the importation of electric vehicles at the Electric Vehicle Seminar

Jamaicans are interested in Electric vehicles. So why are they not more widespread in Jamaica?

Maybe because the import duty of 60% is too high as noted in the article “Stakeholders want Gov't to reduce import duty on electric vehicles”, published Monday, October 02, 2017, The Jamaica Observer.

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This was the obvious stumbling block pointed out by those attending the Electric Vehicle Seminar hosted by JPS and the USAID Caribbean Clean Energy Programme held on Wednesday September 27th 2017 at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston. The event facilitated discussions about issues that need to be tackled before electric vehicles can go mainstream:

1.      Type of infrastructure required
2.      Regulatory frameworks 
3.      Types of Electric Vehicles

Jamaican is clearly behind, as Barbados has 200 electric cars and 20 electric panel vans on their roads. This was pointed out by Joanna Edghill, whose company MegaPower, uses these vehicles.

Jamaican and Electric Vehicles - Reduce Import Duties needed followed by First World Subsidies

Yes, this article may be a bit late, but the interest in Electric vehicles is just revving up globally, as the world is going Renewables according to the IAE (International Energy Agency) as pointed out in my blog article entitled “IEA says Solar PV is fastest growing Energy source while Jamaica is adopting LNG”. 

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In addition, most of the early adopters are the First World countries, with the Developing world countries still punch-drunk on cheaper Fossil fuels based internal combustion engine as noted in my blog article entitled “Why IAE goal of 600 million electric vehicles in 2040 needs Developed World Subsidies”. 

Clearly subsidies are needed from the First World Countries for us to buy their electric vehicles and electric charging infrastructure programs. This along with help to go Renewables in order to reduce the dependence on Fossil fuel based Power Plants.

A lot of that love need to start right here in Jamaica with our Government supporting Electric Vehicles with legislative and personal action. But what are the benefits of Electric Vehicles to Jamaica?

Benefits of Electric Vehicles to Jamaica – JPS Co’s SmartGrid and Tesla Charging Station coming

According to Dr. Gary Jackson, Managing Director of Electric Vehicles Ltd. and owner of an electric vehicle, the benefits are as follows:

1.      A 33% reduction in the cost of running his vehicle, compared to a gasoline run car
2.      Reduced maintenance compared to a gasoline fuelled car as the electric vehicle has no internal combustion engine

This sounds a lot like the benefits that former CEO of JPS Co Kelly Tomblin gets from her electric/hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander as noted in my blog article entitled “How JPS Co CEO Kelly Tomblin Mitsubishi Outlander means importation of Range Extender Electric Vehicles Needed”. 

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JPS Co can get the ball ruling by installing Tesla Motors Charging Stations across the island as a part of their US$5 million Smart Grid initiative as noted in my blog article entitled “JPSCo US$5 million Smart Grid and Tesla Motors Battery Storage Tech Fixes Low Power Periods”.

Conclusion – GOJ Ministers need to walk the Walk and Talk the Talk

So overall, not only would Jamaican motorists benefit, but so would our country, as electric vehicle would significantly reduce our fuel bill; a reduction in the import duty of 60% is needed.

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The Government of Jamaica need to show support, not only by reducing the duty but also ditching their old gas guzzling SUV and modernizing themselves by driving electric vehicles as argue in my blog article entitled “Why the GOJ needs to support All-Electric Vehicle Importation and ditch their Toyota Jamaica SUV's”. 

Whether they can handle the roads is another matter, albeit by the time they get here, toll highways may be the only roads in Jamaica.

Friday, December 29, 2017

What are Light Dependent Resistors and How do they work

LDR (Light dependent resistors) are often used in circuits to detect the presence or the level of light. They can be described by a variety of names:

1.      Photoresistor
2.      Photocell
3.      Photoconductor

Please note that they are not to be confused with photodiodes or photo-transistor, which are P-N Junction based devices; LDR are purely resistive with resistance falling as the level of light increases. These changes in   resistance for a particular light level can be quite large.

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LDRs or photoresistors are a particularly convenient electronics component to use such as in photographic light meters or even to control when streetlights turn on. 

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So what are they made of? And how do they work?

LDR - It's all about Electrons trapped in a Crystal Lattice

Most LDR are made of semiconductor materials that have light sensitive properties. Many materials can be used, but the most popular material for these photoresistors is cadmium sulphide, CdS.

The appearance of a typical Photoresistor is as shown below:

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There are two types of LDR or Photoresistors:

1.      Intrinsic photoresistors - Intrinsic photoresistors use un-doped semiconductor materials including silicon or germanium. Photons fall on the LDR excite electrons moving them from the valence band to the conduction band. As a result, these electrons are free to conduct electricity.
2.      Extrinsic photoresistors -  Extrinsic photoresistors are manufactured from semiconductor of materials doped with impurities. These impurities or dopants create a new energy band above the existing valence band. As a result, electrons need less energy to transfer to the conduction band because of the smaller energy gap.

Regardless of the type of light dependent resistor or photoresistor, both types exhibit an increase in conductivity or fall in resistance with increasing levels of incident light.

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To understand how they work, it's first necessary to understand that an electrical current is the movement of electrons within a material based on an applied p.d (potential Difference) or Voltage. This allows us to divide material into three classes:

1.      Good conductors - have a large number of free electrons that can drift in a given direction under the action of a potential difference.
2.      Insulators - high resistance have very few free electrons, and therefore it is hard to make the them move.
3.      Semiconductors - These are materials that are in-between the properties of Good conductors and Insulators. They have charge carriers called holes (positive) and electrons (negative) that only move when a specific voltage is applied in a certain direction.
As light falls on the semiconductor, the light photons are absorbed by the semiconductor lattice. Some of their energy is transferred to the electrons.  This gives some of them sufficient energy to break free from the crystal lattice causing electrons to flow. This results in a lowering of the resistance of the LDR resistance.

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The relation between Resistance and light intensity is linear, once you plot the values logarithmically; as more light shines on the LDR semiconductor, the resistance falls further. This results in more electrons being released from the crystal lattice of the semiconductor material making up the LRDR, causing more electricity to flow.

Why IAE goal of 600 million electric vehicles in 2040 needs Developed World Subsidies

There are now more than 2 million electric cars on the world's roads.
So says this explainer video from the IAE (International Energy Agency) on their Twitter page:

This is more than the 1 million sold in 2015. Interestingly, 40% of them are in China!!

Despite their bad track record on pollution, they are leader in the use of Alternative energy as pointed out in my blog article entitled “IEA says Solar PV is fastest growing Energy source while Jamaica is adopting LNG”. 

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All told, China has managed to electrify quite a bit of their transportation infrastructure:
1.      2 million electric Bikes
2.      4 million small low speed electric vehicles
3.      350,000 electric buses

But it's not just China that is showing impressive growth in going Electric.

Progress in the Developed World - 10 accounts for 95% which is still 0.2% of the global vehicles

Progress is popping up all over the world, albeit 95% of the electric vehicle adoption is in the following five (5) Developed World Countries:

1.      Britain
2.      Canada
3.      China
4.      France
5.      Germany
6.      Japan
7.      Netherlands
8.      Norway
9.      Sweden
10.  United States

Basically, most of the major oil producing countries that have large budgets can afford to make the switch in terms of vehicles and supporting infrastructure.

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All told, 2 million electric vehicles plus all those sold before only account for 0.2% of the global vehicle sold and on the roads.

Developing World Countries and Electric Vehicles - Subsidies needed along with Renewable Energy

To really effect change and reduce the global temperature caused by fossil fuels based motor vehicles, 600 million of them have to be sold by 2040.

The best solution is quite the most obvious; ban the production of not only fossil fuels based motor vehicles but the internal combustion engine altogether. Wealthier countries such as those mentioned above need to push for electric vehicles in Developing World countries such as Jamaica.

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This can be achieved by providing economic subsidies for electric vehicles and electric charging infrastructure programs. Also, the introduction f cheaper sources of electricity from Renewable resources are needed such as from Wind Energy as detailed in my Geezam blog article entitled “How PCJ Offshore Windfarm may be used to export Hydrogen and Uranium”.

Technical expertise to build and maintain these electric vehicles and electric charging infrastructure programs also needs to be dessimated freely.

If the First World wants the Developing World to make the switch to electric vehicles to save the planet, this has to be done, as for us, fossil fuels based motor vehicles are still cheaper to operate. Otherwise these electric vehicles will be costly and contribute to pollution indirectly through combustion by Fossil fuel based power plants.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Why the JUTC is adopting LNG and CNG as PCJ need to emphasize Solar, Wind and Biofuel

Looks like the JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) is going to be going the LNG way.

The Government of Jamaica has announced plans to fuel their buses using CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), the compressed counterpart to LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) as reported in the article “Pilot Approved For JUTC To Use LNG”, published Wednesday December 20, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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The pilot, to be rolled out in Q1 of 2018, will see five (5) buses being retrofitted to use CNG. Supposedly, they'll be marked to indicate to passenger that they are using the fuel, should the public be wary of a bus that's basically running on a gaseous combustible fuel.

The aim is energy efficiency.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement during the launch of Red Stripe’s new Line 8 production line and LNG plant at their Spanish Town Road facility on Tuesday December 19, 2017.

They are planning to basically reduce taxes on LNG to increase its usages; thus if you are a motorists, when the GOJ decided to roll our LNG to the public, it'll be tax-free.

According to Transport and Mining Minister, Hon. Mike Henry, during his contribution to the 2017/18 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on April 12, 2017, the use of LNG in buses has a projected fuel savings of 25% as noted in the article “JUTC to Manage LNG Pilot”, published April 13, 2017 by Latonya Linton, The Jamaica Information Service

So what exactly is CNG?

JUTC and CNG - A New Spin on an old Idea

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is a natural gas .e. methane, ethane, butane and propane fuel that has been compressed to less than 1% of its volume at s.t.p. (standard temperature and pressure) which is 0°C  Celcius at 1 Atm, 101.3kPa or 760 mmHg of pressure.

It's naturally odourless, colourless and is inexpensive to produce and store, as it's a lot like LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) or butane that is used in cooking Gas cylinders; liquid with some evaporated gas fuel at the top.

This readiness to be liquid and convert to a gas makes ideal for numerous large vehicles such as:

1.      Refuse trucks
2.      Buses
3.      Shuttles Buses
4.      Taxis
5.      Heavy-duty trucks

The liquid readily converts to gas at r.t.p (room temperature and pressure) which is 20°C at 1 Atm, 101.3kPa or 760 mmHg of pressure. This means special storage cylinders for the fuel is required. The fact that it gasifies so easily means it burns more cleanly and evenly in a typical vehicle combustion chamber.

It also does not need to be filtered, making it excellent for cars as well as noted in my blog article entitled “LPG and the Challenger Transport Co Ltd - A Cheaper Fuel” 

Good to note here that the LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) used in cooking Gas cylinders is a form of CNG, just that it is mainly composed of butane; This means that CNG packs more energy per cubic meter. So it's really an upgrade on an old idea.

So is it really more environmentally friendly?

CNG and Renewables in Jamaica - More emphasis need to be placed on Solar, Wind and Biofuel

Alas, no!!

We have to import LNG and gasify it to CNG at the pump or keep it below ground to keep it in liquid state, making it non-renewable. LNG is really gas that should have been burned off at the oilwell, but has been stored for resale at cheaper rates, being ax most oilwells are full of LNG dissolved in oil.

Biodiesel, albeit impractical to grow fuel, it's actually renewable as noted in my blog article entitled “PCJ, UTECH develop Castor Oil-based Biodiesel to reduce Oil imports by 97,000 barrels”; Biodiesel can even be made from cooking oil and other organic sources.

Already there is a pilot project for making Biodiesel from waste cooking oil from restaurants from across the islands as explained in my blog article entitled “How UWI and YCWJ can Waste Cooking Oil for National Bio-Diesel Production”. 

This is actually more economically sustainable, as the Biofuel required to run the buses can also be made from organic material. Also, the infrastructure for LNG for cooling and compressing, shipping and regasifying  can be extensive and expensive, and may cost the government in the long run.

The only way this could be cheaper is if the GOJ has excess energy that they may be planning to use for compressing and regasifying LNG to CNG, such as from Wind Turbines as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “How PCJ Offshore Windfarm may be used to export Hydrogen and Uranium”.

I suspect the GOJ and the PCJ is going this route of continuing to import a fossil fuel as they are getting funding from the USA and other agencies.  LNG Can reduce the cost of both motor vehicle fuel as well as electricity generation once fully adopted by Jamaica along with true Renewable Energy sources such as Solar and Wind as pointed out in my blog article entitled “IEA says Solar PV is fastest growing Energy source while Jamaica is adopting LNG”.

Hopefully, the PCJ will promote Renewable Energy sources such as Solar, Wind and Biofuel from organic material and not lead Jamaica back to an over dependence on an imported fossil fuel. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Why Ministry of Health and WHO are experimenting with PrEP HIV Vaccine

“In terms of trying to strengthen the HIV programme to reduce the impact of the epidemic, we are looking at all the recommendations that have been given by the World Health Organization (WHO), and PrEP is one of those. We are trying to get a feel of what the public thinks about PrEP, and also to do our internal piloting in various spaces, and based on the outcome of that, we would say to the Ministry of Health's wider directorate that we recommend that this be implemented in this way”

Director of the HIV and STI unit at the Ministry of Health, Dr Nicole Skyers, commenting on the PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) pill.

Jamaica is fighting a silent and growing battle against the HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) due to low condom use. So can a pill help?

That is the assertion of Ministry of Health, which is currently mulling the idea of a PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) pill as explained in the article “'Magic Pill' For Ja? - Gov't Looking To Introduce Preventive Drug To Reduce The Spread Of HIV”, published Sunday October 15, 2017 by Ryon Jones, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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This is on the heels of the current controversy over the human papillomavirus (HPV), which I personally suspect is an experiment as opine in my blog article entitled “Why the Ministry of Health must vaccinate Jamaican Boys and Girls against the Human papilloma virus”.

Like that vaccine, the PrEP pill would protect HIV-negative individuals (low-risk people who do not they have HIV Virus active in their bodies) from contraction of the virus and eventually developing AIDS (Aquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome). This may be a silver bullet that prevents the further spread of HIV given the stark stats in the 2014 Global AIDS Response Report:

1.      30,313 Jamaicans were living with HIV
2.      25% unaware that they were infected

Already the Ministry of Health is conducting a quarterly HIV/AIDS/STD National Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs and Practice Survey in all parishes asking Jamaicans if they had previously heard about the PrEP medication and would they be willing to take the pill daily. WHO is banking on the results of 4 randomized control trials, which show the drug works best when used as directed. 

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But is the PrEP pill a good idea? Or is this another experiment by the WHO (World Health Organization) using Jamaica as a proxy for a Drug Trial?

Ministry of Health, the WHO and PrEP – How to use Jamaicans to do Drug Testing

It's a well known fact that condom use in Jamaica is low.

So low in fact that legalizing prostitution may have to be considered in order to treat prostitutes, who are most at risk from such sexual encounters as noted in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “Why Jamaica must legalize Prostitution as Ministry of Health dealing with silent HIV-AIDS and STD’s Outbreak”.

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Hence the reason for the PrEP pill as argued by Director of the HIV and STI unit at the Ministry of Health., Dr Nicole Skyers, quote: “Everybody knows that condom use is way below what it ought to be within our context, so you have to look to say do we do it (PrEP) with everybody or do we do it with our populations that are high at risk of HIV infection. So if you are a low-risk person, maybe PrEP is not necessarily for you”.

Still a PrEP pill, which is aimed at such high-risk persons in Jamaica, comes with some side effects:

1.      Worsening of hepatitis B infection
2.      Too much lactic acid in blood
3.      Kidney problems
4.      Severe liver problems
5.      Bone problems

This means that the PrEP pill cannot be taken by infants, children, older persons and anyone with medical complications that has resulted in them having a weakened immune system. Persons taking the PrEP daily will reduce their risk of contracting HIV by 90%.

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Still, regular check-ups are still required if you are using the PrEP pill as pointed out by Dr Nicole Skyers, quote: “Persons on PrEP need to be tested every three months for HIV and STIs, and they need to have their liver and kidney functions tested”.

If the survey comes back indicating that Jamaicans are interested, then with the support of donor funding, the HIV/STI/TB Unit will recruit a consultant to conduct a PrEP pilot in 2018.

After all, the guinea pig trials need to be done under the watchful gaze of the WHO, to quote Dr Nicole Skyers: “So it's not just to say we're implementing PrEP; here is your pill. It's not that simple. We have to do a pilot to see what the best avenue is for it within our context. The WHO has two arms - where you stay on the pill every day and there is also the option of using it around exposure to that risky sexual act - so we have to determine what the best fit for our population is if we decide to go down that road”.

If this is not an experiment, I don't know what is. Still, action needs to be taken, as the silent HIV epidemic will kill many in Jamaica unless we take control of our sexual activity.