My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How PCJ's Solar Lamp Project eliminates Kerosene lamps and heralds inner-city Solar Power

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

How PCJ's Solar Lamp Project eliminates Kerosene lamps and heralds inner-city Solar Power

“This is only one solution of many and at the end when we review this pilot project we will be in a position to see if it’s worth taking it islandwide.

Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness at the launch of PCJ's Solar Lamp project

The Home Sweet home lamp may soon be on exhibit in a museum for your future children to be reminded of the good...and bad days.

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This as the PCJ (Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica) has launched a pilot project to provide 5,000 Solar Lamps to residents in inner-city communities across St Andrew as noted in the article “Gov't Launches Solar Lamp Pilot Project”, published Monday April 30, 2018 by Paul Clarke, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The aim of the project is to reduce house fires caused by people living in the inner city using candles and lamps. Often when these are lit, they are left with children unattended. The children play and turn over these candles and kerosene lamps, setting their bed linen, curtains and then the whole house on fire.

The blaze quickly razes many of their dwelling, which may be nothing more than a wooden shack with a zinc roof.  This is something that the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness deals with in his constituency, quote: “Almost every year, as a representative, I have had to deal with burnouts; someone’s home will be destroyed by fire. It’s not arson; it’s that we have an aging housing stock that is made primarily of wood. Some people also make their houses out of cardboards and baggas”.

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The Solar Lamp Project, which is expected to address and prevent this problem, is been overseen by the PCJ, as pointed out by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness: “With simple and inexpensive actions, the Government can make a difference in the lives of energy-poor households, and particularly and significantly reduce or virtually eliminate the risk of these tragic fires”.

This Solar Lamp project is a realization of a dream by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who had requested in January that PCJ fast-track the program as noted in the article “Holness Wants To Fast-Track Programme To End Kerosene Lamp, Candle Use In Homes”, published Saturday January 27, 2018, The Jamaica Gleaner.

So how well do these Solar Lamps work?

PCJ's Solar Lamp Project – Solar will save inner-city kids home alone

According to the PCJ Chairman, Russell Hadeed, this fits their long term plan to:

1.      Promote energy efficiency
2.      Fix the problem of house fires

The Solar Lamps have a lifespan of 2 years and require eight (8) hours in the sun to be fully charged. After that, they can provide up to 20 hours of light on the low beam feature and roughly six hours when used on the high beam feature.

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This is more than enough to last the night and is actually a lot better than my lap, as shown below, which requires 2 hours to fully charge but lasts only 6 hours on the low beam feature and to 8 hours on high beam setting.

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Determining who really needs these Solar Lamps may be a problem as pointed out in the article “PM Says 5,000 Solar Lamps Will Be Distributed to Energy-Poor Households”, published March 22, 2018 by Alecia Smith, The Jamaica Information Service.

Still, parents cannot get away from their responsibility, as this really eliminates the risk factor associated with open flames and lamps, to quote the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness: “While this programme will remove one of the risk factors in such fires, ultimately, however, parents and guardians are responsible for the safety, care and protection of their children. We must educate, support and empower our parents, so that those who want to do better will, while ensuring that the organs of State are in a position to protect children from those parents who refuse”.

Eliminating the open flame will save inner-city kids home alone. Hopefully, too, this may expand to solar power being used to power entire homes, lighting and all.

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