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close this bookEnergy Survey Methodologies for Developing Countries (BOSTID, 1980)
close this folderAppendix A
View the documentExcerpts of Background Papers
View the documentEnergy and Development: The Need for Relevant Information (Excerpt)
View the documentEnergy Use in Bangladesh (Excerpt)
View the documentEnergy Assessment in Jamaica (Excerpt)
View the documentEnergy Use in Kenya (Excerpt)
View the documentEnergy Information Needs in The Philippines (Excerpt)
View the documentHuman Dimensions of Energy Needs and Resources (Excerpt)
View the documentChanging Energy Usage for Household and Subsistence Activities (Excerpt)
View the documentRural Energy Survey Requirements:Some Comments and Perspectives (Excerpt)
View the documentEnergy Surveys in Urban Areas: Experiences in Burundi and Cameroon (Excerpt)
View the documentRationales and Frameworks for Energy Information Surveys for the Industrial Sector in Developing Countries (Excerpt)
View the documentNational Energy Assessment Surveys for the Transportation Sector (Excerpt)
View the documentEnergy Use in the Rural and Urban Household Sector' of Developing Countries: An Assessment (Excerpt)

Energy Assessment in Jamaica (Excerpt)

W.R. Ashby
Ministry of Mining and
Natural Resources, Jamaica


Jamaica is the world's third largest producer of bauxite and aluminum, and this single industry accounts for nearly half of the country's total energy consumption and for about two-thirds of its total foreign exchange earnings. The existence of this large and energy-intensive industry also places Jamaica among the highest per capita consumers of energy in the developing world.

Jamaica's energy supply is almost wholly dependent on imported petroleum (90 percent), the balance comprising bagasse, which is the sugar cane residue used as fuel in sugar factories, and a small amount of hydropower. It is not clear how Jamaica will cope with the latest round of price increases in fuel imports. Jamaica's foreign earnings and economic activity in general have by no means kept pace with these rising costs, and the country could be described as being in a state of crisis.

What alternatives are open to Jamaica? The hydropower contribution might be increased to about 4-5 percent but this will require the development of a large and costly multipurpose hydro scheme that would involve substantial tunneling in the Blue Mountain region. Such a scheme would be largely concerned with supplying domestic and irrigation water to Kingston (the capital) and surrounding areas. Bagasse efficiency can certainly be improved, but no quantitative estimate is available. Finally, solar energy in its various manifestations (solar thermal, photovoltaic, ocean thermal, etc.) is surely the ultimate energy reserve that Jamaica possesses, and it must play a major role in the long term as technology develops. However, the present applications that are economically viable, namely, water-heating and crop drying, amount to no more than about 1.5 percent of total energy consumption.


All the alternatives listed have fairly long lean times varying from 5 to 12 years for full implementation. But the most striking fact that emerges from this brief survey of alternatives is that if all of them were to be fully developed, including conservation, Jamaica, given its present economic structure, would still be nearly two-thirds dependent on imported petroleum. Both the long-term prospects before the world and the short-term economic prospects before Jamaica indicate that that is hardly a viable position. Consequently, we must produce an economy less energy intensive, and therefore less constrained by petroleum imports.

To attempt such a challenging feat in anything like an orderly way (assuming that both time and OPEC allow such a thing), it is essential to proceed with detailed information on how energy is used in the economy as it exists, how the economy responds to major impacts such as changes in price and supply, and therefore what avenues of economic development will attain the desired end.

Some of the answers are obvious, in a broad sense. It is clear, for example, that intensive development of efficient agriculture is one of the imperatives of national policy, since agriculture is apt to provide greater employment at smaller energy cost than any other sector. And it is clear that, insofar as there is a manufacturing sector, it must aim not so much at producing commodities for local consumption (import substitution), as at producing commodities for export that are able to survive competition. It is also clear that tourism must be developed as much as possible. Of course, responding to all these challenges will mean an important test of national fiber, discipline, and cohesion.

Policy planning must not merely indicate directions, it must also indicate quantities, targets, and objectives. Therefore, in pursuit of these objectives, a national program of energy end-use surveys has been undertaken to provide information leading to the development of a National Energy Accounting System and to the construction of a national energy model. This model will coordinate with and supply information to a general economic model being constructed by the National Planning Agency, which has overall responsibility for macroeconomic planning. Given sufficient time, it is expected that these activities will lead to the fulfillment of all the objectives defined above.


As far as Jamaica is concerned, energy conservation has greater potential than any other single alternative. Its lead time is shorter and the investment cost much less, although the figure used of 15 percent is a rather subjective estimate and needs to be reviewed in light of more accurate studies. But it follows from this that the highest energy priority for Jamaica is a series of detailed energy audits of the major consuming sectors in order to identify and realize the potential for energy conservation. This program is being actively planned.

On the side of actual alternative supplies, the highest priority lies in a program of oil and gas exploration, and it is expected that drilling activity, both offshore and onshore, will begin within a year. Regarding other alternative energy sources, peat is the most significant indigenous energy source that Jamaica possesses. It exists in two major deposits, and if mined and burned as a power plant fuel it could provide about 40 percent of the current level of electricity-generating requirements, or about 7 percent of total energy. However, its development may be subject to environmental constraints.


The program of energy end-use surveys is conceived as a set of six sectoral surveys, namely, tourism, household, industrial, distributive trade, agricultural, and transport Of these, the first two have been carried out, and a contract is being negotiated with a consulting firm for carrying out the other four, which it is hoped will be complete within a year. The rest of the commercial sector and the public administrative sector will be added at a later date.

For each sector, the survey aims to correlate energy consumption with other significant economic variables, such as employment, output, value added, foreign exchange earnings, etc., to the extent that they are applicable to each sector. Other aims include identifying opportunities for energy conservation and for substitution of alternative sources; therefore, the questionnaires must be structured in such a way as to reveal this information wherever possible. For example, the industrial survey will attempt, among other things, to arrive at an inventory of major energy-consuming equipment and an indication of, for example, the temperature and pressure at which steam may be used in industrial processes and an overall indication of the probable efficiency of energy use.

Tourism Survey

This survey actually examined energy use in hotels, excluding villas, guest houses, or private cottages and such areas of energy consumption as air or ground transportation for tourists. However, the survey is believed to include the bulk of such areas of tourist activity as restaurants, bars, in-bond shops, gift shops, etc., since most of these are located in hotels.

Jamaica has approximately 8,000 hotel rooms available to tourists, and some 70 percent of these were included in a survey carried out by a single staff member of the Ministry of Mining and Natural Resources between July and December 1979. The data collected actually cover the years 1977 and 1978, when the average occupancy of these hotels was 31 percent and 43 percent, respectively. A statistical analysis of the data has not yet been done.

While hotel occupancy rose by some 39 percent between 1977 and 1978, actual energy consumption per room increased by only 12 percent and the total energy consumption by 7.7 percent, though the cost of this energy increased by 58 percent. That effect, however, was mainly due to devaluation of the Jamaican dollar, since the actual foreign exchange cost increased only slightly. An analysis of any relationship between energy consumption, occupancy, and price levels still remains to be done, and will, of course, be obscured by the very steep price increases that have occurred since.

Two important conclusions from the survey are that in 1977 energy costs amounted to about 8 percent of total hotel operating costs, and that US$1 of energy expenditure generated between US$6.80 and US$13.80 in net foreign exchange revenue. The reason for this wide range is the difficulty in estimating how much of the gross foreign exchange earnings remains within the system, and how much is either lawfully expended or else "leaked" in various ways. The corresponding figures for 1978 are not yet available, but both should increase significantly.

Another important observation is that actual energy costs per room varied very widely among the hotels visited, ranging between 28,500 megajoules (MJ; 27 million Btu) and 225,000 MJ (213 MBtu) per room. There is no reason to believe that any more than a few of the operations are particularly efficient. A good deal of further technical and statistical analysis will have to be done before one can draw general conclusions about the efficiency or otherwise of various kinds of hotels. This also reinforces the points made earlier that surveys of this kind give only broad indications of energy use, that detailed energy audits are needed to quantify conservation opportunities, and that both are very different kinds of exercises but that both are necessary.

Household Survey

Jamaica has approximately 438,000 households, and it was proposed to carry out a survey on a sample approaching 1 percent of that number. To do this, 3,800 questionnaires were issued to 80 interviewers, who conducted a survey over a period of 5 weeks during April and May 1979, the survey having been extended due to heavy rain and in order to improve the response on certain questions. Of the questionnaires issued, 3,331 were returned; the rest were either not returned or rejected for various reasons. Of those accepted, a further 562 failed to respond adequately to questions on income, so that a final analysis was carried out on 2,769 responses, representing approximately 0.63 percent of the households in the country.

Survey responses were broken down into nine income categories. While the level of response was probably adequate for the lower-income groups, the absolute numbers in the upper-income groups were too small to be useful for certain kinds of analysis, such as assessing the use of domestic water heaters. This suggests the need for an additional supplementary survey, confined to the upper two or three income groups, to obtain more accurate information on this and similar points.