Energy Challenges Must Be Addressed Urgently – RE offers a solution

Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. Clive Mullings, says the energy challenges that are facing the country must be addressed urgently.

The Minister was speaking at the official launch of the Jamaica Fulbright Association (JFA) Energy Awareness Competition 2011, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, on September 16.

Under the theme: ‘Promoting Energy Awareness in Jamaican Secondary Schools’, the competition is open to all secondary schools, and attractive prizes will be given to the institutions  that save the most energy.

Mr. Mullings  told the students that they must utilise their energy, intellect and drive in assisting with the search for sustainable solutions to the energy challenges.

Meanwhile, Director of Sustainable Energy, School of Graduate Studies, University of Technology, Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, pointed out that Jamaica’s dependence on imported petroleum to meet over 90 per cent of its energy needs, has remained the status quo for too long, and if the country could convert its abundance of natural resources to useful energy, it could meet up to 40 per cent of its energy needs.

Referencing a United Nations/Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN/ECLAC) 2005 Study, Dr. Potopsingh identified several potential renewable energy sources for Jamaica, such as wind, solar, hydro and biomass.

She explained that the island’s “solar radiation profile makes it one of the best candidates for solar-thermal and photo-voltaic applications for heating, cooling and lighting.”

Dr. Potopsingh further noted that hydropower has remained largely untapped with some of the largest rivers like the Rio Grande and the Great River not being utilised.  “Not to mention the many waterfalls that can be harnessed for hydropower without compromising their touristic value,” she added.

Turning to the importance of conservation, she observed that as important as the fuel choice is the manner in which energy is utilised.

“Energy conservation and efficiency have become very important as countries continue to face high oil prices. Not many years ago oil was sold at US$15 per barrel. Today, a barrel of oil costs US$89.50. So, it is important to manage our energy use. Energy efficiency and conservation is in our hands – as individuals, as groups, as associations, and as schools,” Dr. Potopsingh stated.

She encouraged students to practise “good energy” habits, and emphasised the old adage that ‘a dollar saved is a dollar earned’.

“Turn off the lights and electrical appliances when not in use. Use compact fluorescent lights, instead of incandescent bulbs.  Turn off the tap that is dripping. Every drop of water is pumped using electricity. Don’t open the refrigerator longer than you need to…  Be conscious of your energy use and your carbon footprint,” she advised.

Commending the organisers and sponsors of the competition, Dr. Potopsingh underscored the importance of the choice of the competition’s target group.

“There are approximately 224,000 students enrolled in 165 secondary schools islandwide and while these students may have received some foundational appreciation of energy prior to secondary school, at the secondary level their cognitive skills are being further developed and social behaviour shaped, either for the world of work or further studies. Creating pathways to change attitudes on how we use energy is very important,” Dr. Potopsingh said.

Noting that an informed society was an empowered one,  Dr. Potopsingh said the competition launched would have a significant ripple effect going forward.

The competition is organised by the Jamaica Fulbright Association with sponsorship by the US State Department’s Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF), the Ministry of Education and the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited.


Source: JIS