July 2013

The BBC’s Martin Patience: “In Shanghai it’s absolutely sweltering”

Temperatures in parts of China have hit record highs, prompting an emergency level-two nationwide heat alert for the first time.

In Shanghai, at least 10 people have died from heatstroke, as the city experiences its hottest July in 140 years, reports say.

Local journalists have demonstrated the heat by frying meat on the pavement.

The national heat alert covers nine provinces, including Anhui, Jiangsu, Hunan, Hubei, Shanghai and Chongqing.

According to figures from the Shanghai Meteorological bureau, Shanghai has seen 24 days with temperatures at or above 35C in July.

“It should be a new record since Shanghai had its own weather recording,” said chief service officer Wu Rui.

“Also, in July of this year Shanghai reached 40.6 degrees Celsius, its highest ever temperature. So the highest temperature in July also broke a record.”

Visitors at a water park enjoy themselves in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province, 13 July 2013

In other parts of China, water parks are attracting huge crowds, like this one in Wuhan, Hubei province.

More than 10 people in Shanghai have died after suffering from heatstroke, state-run news agency Xinhua said, citing health officials.

In a TV report, journalists from Shanghai TV said they successfully fried a pork chop on a marble slab outdoors in just 10 minutes.

The practice appears to have become popular, with

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell (standing) and Joan Spencer-Ernandez, Board Chair of the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), bear witness as CMI Executive Director Fritz Pinnock and Jamaica Public Service Company Chief Executive Officer Kelly Tomblin sign an agreement to retrofit existing street lights with light-emitting diode (LED) units. The manufacturing and assembly of the lights are to be done locally by engineers and technicians at the CMI.

The Jamaica Observer;

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) must quickly decide whether it is up to the job it is mandated to perform. If it is not, it must move over and let someone else get on with it.

We especially refer to the agency’s ability to determine Jamaica’s future energy needs, the fuel mix that will meet those requirements at the cheapest cost, and to evaluate bids that will deliver power most economically.

To be frank, this newspaper is not now sanguine of the OUR’s capacity to deliver. Nor are we any more convinced that the Government is appropriately seized of the importance of the urgency with which the matter needs to be resolved.

Or, maybe it is that our people are playing games, or have motives understood only by themselves. For when seemingly rational people engage in irrational behaviour, it is cause to wonder.

There, long ago, appeared to have been consensus on the energy question: that the cost of electricity, at around US$0.42 per kilowatt-hour, makes Jamaican businesses uncompetitive and is a major drag on the country’s economy. So, a substantial lowering of the cost of power, it was agreed, or so we thought, was a national priority.

NATURAL GAS AND HOT AIR

The issue was what would constitute a reasonable lowering of the price of energy, and how this was to be achieved. After more than a decade of haggling and procrastination, it was finally agreed, as official policy, that natural gas would be the fuel of choice.

In 2010, a 480-megawatt gas-fired plant, with appropriate facilities for the storage and regasification of liquefied natural gas (LNG), was put to tender. But that arrangement was abandoned when it was determined that the bidding process may have been affected by conflicts of interest and/or inappropriate behaviour.

Towards the end of 2011, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), which has a monopoly on the transmission and distribution of electricity, was the sole bidder and selectee to build and operate a 360-megawatt plant. But by February this year, the OUR was withdrawing from the arrangement during differences over bond payments and the inability of JPS to source LNG at price points the regulator felt were tolerable.

PROPOSAL EXTENSIONS

In early February, the OUR announced it would accept unsolicited proposals for the power plant.

Five entities filed bids, comprising 14 proposals. The OUR shortlisted three companies, and a final recommendation to the Government should have been done by April 15. But before that time, the process was reopened to allow the consideration of a bid to the Government by a latecomer.

Since then, there have been two extensions to accommodate changes by the OUR to the instructions to the bidding entities. So, instead of completing an evaluation of the bids by August 28, the OUR now says that will happen by September 9.

Overall, the projection for completing negotiations with the successful bidder, by the OUR’s estimate, will be delayed by only a few weeks, thus allowing the construction of the facility to begin in early 2014. This newspaper, however, is not convinced.

At the very least, the entire process has been messy, overlaid by a whiff of amateurism – or worse.

Energy is too crucial to the economy for such sloppy management. Perhaps there is more that people should know than meets the eye.

The Jamaica Gleaner;

Three of the island’s major private sector organisations are again expressing disappointment at the recent decision by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to further delay the bid process for the 360 Megawatt Generating Project.

The organisations have also expressed alarm at the decision by the OUR to also remove the requirement for an up-front bid bond to be posted at the same time as submission of the bid.

In a joint news release yesterday, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), said that they were alarmed at these latest developments, which have come just two working days before the previous July 29 deadline.

According to the organisations, “the bid bond serves the critical purpose of mitigating against (i) the presentation of frivolous, unrealistic, initially-low bids that upon award require further negotiation with the OUR, and/or (ii) the presentation of apparently attractive bids, devoid of substance, that lack the appropriate due diligence and serious consideration, on the part of the sponsor and investors, that would only come after award.

“A removal of the bid bond requirement with bid submission is therefore an invitation for mischievous bid behaviour, delays and false promises. In fact for a project of this size, any bidder that is reluctant to provide a substantial bid bond must be viewed with some skepticism,” the statement said.

The private sector organisations said that they are cautioning the Government against fostering an environment that incentivises these kinds of strategies in such an important project that is needed urgently for the country’s economic growth.

According to the groups, the up-front provision of a substantial bid bond is a normal procedure in major infrastructural bids in Jamaica and worldwide, and this current move does not follow best practices, adding that while they reluctantly accept that the delay seems to be a foregone conclusion, they are strongly urging that the bid bond requirement be reinstated immediately, in order to ensure that transparency and credibility is maintained throughout this process.

The Jamaica Observer;

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General Manager for Loan Origination and Portfolio Management at the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), Edison Galbraith (left), in conversation with Managing Director at FosRich Company, Cecil Foster, at a recent energy forum, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St. James.

The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) is offering a special energy efficiency loan at eight per cent, for business operators to cut costs and advance the country

Energy efficiency is defined as using less energy to provide the same level of energy service. Some examples of energy efficiency are better insulation of buildings, using energy saving light bulbs, buying cars with better gas mileage. Energy efficiency is achieved primarily by means of a more efficient technology or processes rather than by radical changes in individual behavior.

Energy Star is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products. It was first created as a United States government program in 1992, but Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the European Union have also adopted the program. Devices carrying the Energy Star logo generally use 20%

The regional think tank, Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI), is urging Caribbean governments to diversify the incentives being offered in the renewable energy market.

Presenting an update on its renewable-energy research that it expects will influence policies and inform potential investors on the way forward in the sector, CaPRI’s renewable energy programme manager, Dr Suzanne Shaw, said the research has revealed that the region should be aiming for greater diversification of incentives in the renewable energy market.

Shaw said though there were incentives dedicated to renewable energies, many of them were tax incentives.

She also noted that there were attempts to change this with the implementation of net-billing schemes in countries such as Barbados and Jamaica but more needs to be done.

“We are hoping to get to a stage where we have a more diverse policy mix that can really treat the needs of the various technologies we find in the Caribbean,” Shaw said.

Ja is ahead of the pack

She said the research, which started in 2011 and is expected to be completed in 2015, has also revealed that Jamaica is ahead of the curve in the drafting of renewable-energy policies.

“There are policies in place in many Caribbean countries and I think it is fair to say that Jamaica is ahead in the development of renewable-energy policies,” Shaw said

She said there were two parts to the research being conducted and these would help both regional policy makers and the private sector to push the renewable-energy sector forward.

“What we are trying to do is on one hand influence policies in Caribbean countries to create an enabling environment to allow renewable energy to emerge and occupy the place that it can occupy as an economic alternative to conventional energy sources,” Shaw said.

She added that CaPRI is trying to also make sure enough information is available to potential investors so that they can develop viable energy projects and increase implementation.

CaPRI’s research has also received high marks from the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining.

Hillary Alexander, permanent secretary in the ministry, said the research was interesting and would add value to the work the ministry is currently undertaking.

She said CaPRI has been approached to share its preliminary findings with the ministry.

The Jamaica Gleaner;

Advantages of Solar Energy

No greenhouse gases

The first and foremost advantage of solar energy is that it does not emit any greenhouse gases. Solar energy is produced by conducting the sun

The demo kit containing an A/C motor, two kilowatt meters and the green box.

THE need for lower electricity bills and a cheaper alternative to solar.

Those, primarily, were what led Mark Neita and business partner Dr Matthew Bird to the green box technology and to found Green Box Jamaica.