Study Seeks to Expand Jamaica Energy Supply with Local Crops

A study is underway to select local crops for biofuel production, in an effort to expand Jamaica’s sources of energy supply.

Manager for renewable energy and energy efficiency at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), Dr. Peter Ruddock, said the company is continuing its research to extract biodiesel from plants, so as to reduce the importation of fuel.

Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’ recently, Ruddock said the PCJ has signed partnership agreements with Bodles Agricultural Research Station and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute for the experimental cultivation of select crops for biofuel production.

“We are also procuring an oil press, which will press the seeds out to get the oil which we can test,” he noted, adding that the company is also in dialogue with the Jamaica German Automotive School (JAGAS) and the University of Technology (UTech).

“I figure that within the next year or two we should have some very good data, which will establish the whole value chain of doing this biodiesel research,” Dr. Ruddock said.

He said, too, that investigations were being carried out on the locally grown jatropha and castor. “We have been trying to get the best strains for Jamaica. The strains have come from all over the world and we want to see which of them will produce the best yields with local conditions,” Dr. Ruddock said.

Following the selection of plants, he explained that the other phases will be harvesting, extracting the oils, engine tests and establishing a retail market with Petrojam Limited, which supplies the country with a full range of petroleum products. “That hopefully will displace some of the imported diesel,” he added.

According to Dr. Ruddock, a biodiesel association, including all the players in the industry, will be established to ensure economies of scale and that the country benefits.

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