Tuesday, June 5, 2007

St Kitts / Nevis Ethanol production

Source: http://www.pamdemocrat.org/Newspaper/Details.cfm?Nz=(0GIZ4I%26%3DAG8%20%0A&Iz=%23)%22TE%0A


News that gas prices have again risen and that commuters have to pay
as much as $13.00 per gallon for gas have been making nationals groan,
and worry wrinkles are spreading all over their faces.

Two years ago when the Sugar Industry was about to close its 300 year
old doors, there was much talk about feasibility studies on ethanol
and it was bandied about that this was a likely option after sugar.
The Prime Minister told nationals in New York in November 2005 that
some former sugar cane lands will be kept by Government for the
production of ethanol for fuel. Since then, no progress report and
no indication as to how we would use the thousands of acres of sugar
cane standing unused, growing in our fields.

The Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme (CREDP),
headquartered in St. Lucia has recently pointed out to us these facts:

"It may interest you to know that in the Caribbean, petroleum products
which are expensive and environmentally unfriendly account for an
estimated 93% of commercial energy consumption while renewable energy
provides less than 2% of the region''s commercial energy. This is so
despite the substantial wind, solar, hydropower and biomass resources
available in the region."

Apparently with some German funding, CREDP aims to reduce the
Caribbean Region''s Dependence on Fossil Fuels and Contribute to
Reducing Green House Gas - Emissions by removing barriers to renewable
energy use in the Caribbean. However the Project Countries for the
CREDP/GTZ are Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Saint Vincent
and the Grenadines. ST. KITTS NEVIS is not included and we must ask
WHY? Especially in light of the fact that we have acres and acres of
''sugar energy'' going to waste or literally going up in smoke!!

Why is St, Kitts not included in this Project when to all intents and
purposes we should have gotten priority? Did we send anyone to the
Meetings? Did we make any proposals? Did we insist that we ought to
be considered?

Kittitians and Nevisians are becoming more and more frustrated at the
lack of any long term vision, ideas or plans coming out of the closure
of the Sugar Industry. All we hear about are hotels, golf courses,
restaurants... all of which will require energy which we must continue
to import from abroad at their ridiculous prices, Are we incapable of
doing anything for ourselves. We don''t even seem to be educating
ourselves on the environment and how we can sustain it and use it to
our benefit.

A Swedish study has said sugar cane has the highest annual yields of
biomass of all species and is capable of producing both solid and
bio-fuels. The European Union has said that it is interested in buying
biofuels from Third World countries.

"Renewable fuel has been a fantastic solution for us," Brazil''s
minister of agriculture, Roberto Rodrigues, said in a recent interview
in São Paulo, the capital of São Paulo State, which accounts for 60
percent of sugar production in Brazil. "And it offers a way out of the
fossil fuel trap for others as well." .

Nor do we seem to making any headway on researching other forms of
fuel energy conversions. Nevis seems to have opened doors for the
exploration of geothermal energy.

How many of our youth have we sent to study solar engineering? How
long will we continue to believe that the only use we can make of the
sun is to toast the skins of tourists as they lie on our shores?
What will it take for us to realize that the investors from temperate
countries cannot be as interested in solar power as we are and we must
depend on our selves to harness this formidable source of power that
makes itself felt uncomfortably day by day - even during our
''investors'' winter season.

When we look at our present situation and the state of dependency we
still perpetuate, we have reason to wonder whether we will ever
emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. Apparently, after 40 years
of universal secondary education, we still doubt whether we can change
our status quo and take control of our destiny.

Cuban President Fidel Castro has called on the world to change its
energy consumption habits rather than develop biofuels that he says
will starve poor people and harm the environment. But his only
alternative to date has been for governments to replace incandescent
light bulbs with florescent bulbs in businesses and private homes. In
St. Kitts, sugar cane, unlike corn, is not being used to feed the
masses and the incandescent bulbs can only go so far and no further in
the area of providing fuel for our potential growth.

Certainly the time has come for us to stop talking and move into the
action phase.

Lorna Callender



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