Just change the channel

| 11/03/2011

When you see a show on TV you don’t like, you change the channel. Similarly, if you don’t like the proposed projects, such as dredging the North Sound for mega yachts or an oil refinery, you can change the channel as well. Since there are funds out there for such projects, why not steer away from such short-sightedness and build something lasting that is eco-friendly and benefits all of Cayman.

Here are a couple of ideas that cost less than dredging and oil refining but create a huge number of jobs, while at the same time increase our spending power and income. The first project is a solar farm using long parabolic reflectors that track the sun’s rays throughout the day to heat fluids for driving turbines that generate electricity. Florida Power & Light is currently unveiling such a project in South Florida. It won’t replace their nuclear reactor but is will generate a nice percentage of clean low cost electricity. Such a project should be owned and operated by government to avoid the need for being motivated by producing profits. The motivation would be to provide Cayman with the cheapest electricity possible. It would not eliminate our need for CUC but would cut down on our electrical costs substantially. CUC would be allowed to follow suit by building their own solar farm if desired so as to be competitive.

The second idea is to turn the channel from the oil refinery show to the ethanol channel where we grow our own sugar cane to produce ethanol to fuel our vehicles. Brazil has run all of their cars and trucks on ethanol for years. It would cut down or eliminate our dependence on the outside world for our energy needs. Oil field capacities peaked about 5 years ago. As oil wells begin to empty, it becomes harder and more expensive to harvest the oil, thus making it more expensive. An oil refinery would not be of much use in the long run.

By reducing our cost of energy through the above two ideas, we would have more money to spend on other things. And as well, the prices of the things we purchase would be less, which would be like getting a pay raise. Cayman’s cost of living would be lessened, which would make it more attractive to visitors. In other words, it would kick start our economy and produce jobs in abundance as the demand for goods and services increases. These types of ideas are what we should be exploring for lifting us up and carrying us into the future. We will always be dependent on outside sources for our food and other necessities, but our basic energy needs can and should be under our control on our island. Nothing is more basic or more important for the prosperity and economic stability we desire.

Of course, the naysayers will say that government should not be involved in such projects. Let me remind you that government provides the fresh water at a reasonable rate, which by the way would be even less expensive if the electricity used to make fresh water was cheaper. Oil is the enemy and we have the means to free ourselves if we concentrate our efforts this way rather than the short-sighted projects we are fighting now. Now is the time to change the channel, not dredge one.

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  1. AC says:

    Why not have CUC control the rental, installation and maintenance of solar panels? They could then earn a return on an alternative fuel source.

  2. D says:

    If Cayman’s CUC could find it in their hearts and wallets to do a JV pilot project "Algae to Oil" farm, I think they would soon see that the process is simple, the water demands not an issue as salt water can be used, the algae strain itself could be home grown. The Co2 they create now could feed the algae-and can be taken straight from their own stacks. As the pilot project produces clean, safe, oil they can start to supplement their oil purchases and scale production up. Eventually as Mount Trashmore closes, that "land" could be covered with Algae farm equipment, the Co2 could then come both from the CUC stacks and the waste treatment plant. The oil would then fill our storage tanks and CUC would not have to change their own equipment or infrastructure. No more Sulfur emissions to pollute the air. No more international oil dependency. I have contacts – a professor that can provide his students to do a feasibility study and another professor who could dosome educational sessions for government, investors and the intersted public at large.  Mr. Hews or other CUC representative if this is of interest, contact CNS for my email.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think you should stick to counting beans instead of posting comments on issues you have no knowledge about!

  4. Anonymous says:

    My interpretation of the author message is, that they’re other options out there, and we must not simply make decisions that are beneficial for the short term! Oil for example, is a non-renewable resource. What happens when its all done? Do we wait until then to change our game plan, and start thinking outside the box? I support the solar power, as this resource is available year around

    Someone said to me today, what do you think would happen to this country if there is no more middle class? Do you think the Rich will support the country? They would be the first to leave! Let’s not wait and see what will happen!

    Leaders who are visionaries, and willing to work together for one common cause please stand up!

  5. Just Commentin' says:

    Forget about agrifuel. If you can grow sugarcane you can make rum! Let’s put all this worry about energy aside and partyyyy!

    I’ll drink to that!

  6. noname says:

     You still need a refining process to get the ethanol from sugar cane. The sugar cane harvest happens in June-July in this region, however there is insufficient rainfall in Cayman from December to sustain it. Needless to say the arable ground is inadequate here.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why bother with ethanol, which is rather impractical anyway, when reducing the cost of electricity via solar farms would make the use of electric vehicles incredibly cheap relative to gas or diesel. I’m all for solar, be it photovoltaic cells, or the less expensive focusing arrays to power turbines. We have all this sun and thus far are squandering it!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Interesting that the alternative being proposed to projects that will be financed and managed by private businesses, are projects that require government support (and without any prerequisite that the investment generate an appropriate return or surplus).  The last thing we need is another large and expensive project that will not be viable without ongoing government support (think turtle farm).  If a solar farm is such a great investment then the author should instead raise some capital and build it themself.




  9. Anonymous says:

    A series of solar barges located offshore around the island would be an idea.

    please discuss…

  10. Anonymous says:

    I agree with your overall perspective. And certainly support alternative energy generation projects/investment in Cayman. A solar farm (which is built in an eco-friendly manner that does not damage ecologically sensitive areas) – all for it.

    However Cayman is far too small to grow sugar cane for ethanol. Far far too small. It requires huge tracts of land. And because of this is environmentally problematic – in practice. In Brazil vasts tracts of rainforest are being cleared to grow sugar cane for ethanol.

    • Anonymous says:

      We do not have the land to grow cane to begin with, however cane can be grown in hygroponic tanks and greenhouses. These could be built on the same land used for the solar farm so long as we elevate the salor panels and build the greenhouses below.

      • Anonymous says:

         Have you considered that putting solar panels over the top of the growing sugar cane might cut out the sun it needs to grow? What about the water necessary to grow sugar cane? I don’t know about your water bill but mine is rather high and I think that factor alone would greatly raise the cost over other areas that produce ethanol such as Brazil.  A great deal of evidence has been produced to show ethanol is not a viable alternative in the long run in the US where they have far more water and land. 

        New ideas are great but they must be properly research to make sure they are viable before spouting off and looking silly. How much land covered with sugar cane does is take to produce a gallon of fuel? Do you even know?


        • tired says:

          Why do we not put a defined legal restriction on fuel guzzlers and force everyone to go hybrid or at least fuel efficient and (shudder) add a two car limit per household. It has always baffled me that we are still bringing down these gas guzzlers and that there are no hybrids being sold at local dealerships, so maybe people need a little shove from our elected officials? On an island that is this small 50 mpgs goes a long way.