Monday, October 2, 2017

Making Jamaica A Better Place

Written Dr. John Lennon

Jamaica is in a dire and deteriorating position. Remittances save those lucky enough to have relatives abroad but for the less fortunate life is a daily struggle for survival. What do you do if your child needs a US$180 MIR scan? Medical treatments are out of reach of many. The growth in crime is not a surprise since our growth industries are poverty and desperation.

I believe that if we reduce our fuel bills we could redirect hundreds of millions of USD to education, health, roads etc. Last year our fuel bill was US$4.75 billion. Also, for meaningful change to occur the diaspora must be involved in our decision making. What they're doing works for the few.
My name is Dr John Lennon (born during Beatlemania). I'm a British expatriate living in Montego Bay. I was born in the UK but spent my teenage years in Clarendon. My passions are education and the environment and I want to build the first waste-to-energy plant on the island. The electricity generated would be sold to the grid and the profits used for education. This would be the first step towards the creation of a transparent renewable energy industry: paying a living wage and all profits for the people.

Making a difference
A wise person said "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". I wanted to make a difference so I sold my UK home with plans to finance a solar facility at a school. The leasing proposal would have saved thousands of US dollars every month. My home was my pension but the rental income benefited only me, so this was a better arrangement:
I'd employ someone to clean/manage two beaches. Every year 2000 students would benefit. The school would inherit the facility on my death. The project did not transpire. I contacted 6 schools and at the time of writing they are all on the grid. 

Jamaica's energy goals investors first....
Our leaders have been pursuing energy alternatives since the 1970s which is logical since fuel is by far the greatest contributor to the cost of our electricity. It is around 75% of our bills and our rates are amongst the highest worldwide. This is a perpetual problem for most people and for economic growth. Hence targeting cheap, clean fuels should be the goal.

Jamaica receives enough sunshine to supply approximately 5 times our annual energy requirement but 40 years later we generate only 3% of it from solar. An administration of a decade ago stated that savings of US$60 million per annum could be generated from waste-to-energy. So we should be saving hundreds of millions annually: sunshine and organic waste are free.  China recently connected a US$52 million 50 MW solar array to their grid (free fuel) but here investors are constructing a US$330 million natural gas 190 MW power plant ($$$ fuel). Analyze those numbers. So we're committed to expensive, fossil fuel electricity. Here, investors come first and the people and the planet come last. 

Here are some alternative solutions:
We generate the finance for a waste-to-energy plant then grants and low interest loans would be seek for expansion and other projects. The objectives: real job creation; improved waste management: less burning of garbage, less landfill and cleaner environment; solar powered schools so increased spending on education; solar powered street lighting (we owe over US$35m to JPS) and government buildings (annual bills over US$100m ) and vast savings including a reduction in the fuel bill. Cheaper electricity will help the majority and promote growth & jobs. Greener electricity will aid tourism and help the planet. Improved education will create a better and fairer society.

We need change
All of the above should have been done years ago. It is inexcusable. Now the parliamentarians are waiting for investors to create the waste-to-energy industry. Their industry will be low wages and profits benefiting the few so it is essential that we step in - facilities in every parish, jobs, recycling. You can read more and contact me at:

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