Caribbean climate ...

Caribbean climate entrepreneurs target big problems with savvy science

In July 2014, the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC), a project of the World Bank Group and its global entrepreneurship program infoDev announced the 11 winners of its first regional Proof of Concept (PoC) competition. Below are stories from 5 winners of the competition who developed sustainable energy solutions with scientific innovation. 

Because of the Caribbean’s dependence on fossil fuels for power generation, the production of indoor light is far too expensive for domestic or industrial uses. But in a region blessed with 3000 hours of daylight every year, Jamaica’s Kert Edward is working to mine this renewable resource via a fiber optic solar indoor lighting (FOSIL) system. “The primary objective,” Dr. Edward says, “is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce significant energy savings. If the final product is well-designed and affordable to the average consumer, all the available data suggest that it will be highly commercially viable.”


Kert Edward receives his PoC grant from Sally Wade, Canadian charge d’affaires to Trinidad & Tobago

Edward’s system will use fixed collection optics for the most efficient collection of rooftop sunlight, neutralizing infrared rays in order to make the most of the light and reduce heat conduction. Special filters will ensure that the right kind of light is available for homes, offices and other indoor spaces.  Full assembly of the final system is scheduled for Spring-Fall 2015.

In a land with no fresh water, low-cost potable H2O for rural folk using reverse osmosis and the sun

Mario Bento knows water. His company has been supplying solutions for filtering sea and brackish water in Antigua – and island with no fresh water – for more than two decades. But with periods of longer drought and shorter, more violent rain caused by climate change, rural communities now have less access to potable water year-round.

Bento has hit upon what he calls “a low cost, sustainable drought-proofing solution,” a self-contained pump/filter unit that combines reverse-osmosis desalination systems and solar power. Ranging in capacity from 1000-6000 liters per day, the concepts combines all pumping, pressurization, filtration and storage within the same compact plastic tank. The plan calls for building and deploying three prototypes over three months at Codrington in Barbuda, Orange Valley in Antigua and a location in Haiti.

For years, Mario Bento has supplied desalination plants like the one shown in the picture. Now, he’s found a way to miniaturize the system for low-cost use.

Applying septic and portable toilet expertise to recycling revenue

St. Kitts & Nevis has not done much in the way of commercial recycling, and so Donny Bristol wants to generate revenue from recycling the plastic, glass and cardboard that are largely ignored in favor of metal recyclables.

Using the knowledge of his family-owned solid waste business, he decided to fight back, by repurposing vegetable cooking oil and motor oils, shredding polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles, corrugated cardboard and PVC; smelting old furniture into metal ingots and crushing/cleaning glass, all for export. He is working on technology to remove dirt and other non-essential material from the recyclables  for better health, safety and collection efficiencies.

In addition to handling and storing the materials using environmental best practices, Bristol will establish public recycling locations – and begin to reharvest waste from the local landfill, which outlived its 10-year horizon in three years.


A range of solid and fluid recyclable materials being processed by Donny Bristol

Taking oil recycling to the next level

Elliot Lincoln’s company was already recycling cooking oils and repurposing them as diesel fuels for industry when he decided to create biofuels from microalgae cultivation, CO2 sequestration and waste water treatment. This evolution of his operations will provide his Themba Biofuels outfit with more sustainable supplies of raw material, both recycled and naturally generated.

Biodiesel will add to diesel consumption – which is already 27% of primary energy generation in the region – and contribute to fuel price stability and energy security. The operation is also expected to provide co-product opportunities and add to the skilled workforce. Lincoln’s concept involves waste oil rendering, biodiesel production and blending, as well as distribution and some retail. With growth potential of 700,000 gallons a year over five years and 40-50 new jobs, biodiesel has the kind of upside that he says “will be 75% cleaner, burn with a higher flash point and be biodegradable.”

After building a solid business model using waste oil from hotels and businesses, Elliot Lincoln has turned his attention to cultivating microalgae for biofuels.

If the pig waste material can’t get to the biodigester …

In Trinidad & Tobago, the pork industry generates approximately 35,600 metric tons of solid/liquid pig waste a year. There has never much modern technology on the island for managing the manure until Suzanne Thomas and her team decided to do something about it.

A scale model of Suzanne Thomas’ mobile digester. When operational, the modular units will be trucked to pig farms for processing animal waste into energy.


Suzanne Thomas says there is currently only “rudimentary separation of solids and liquids … the only management employed is settling ponds and rubble drains. Because of limited expertise, farms are designed without such systems, and there’s not enough land for application of effluent.”

Pig farm effluent affects local water quality, the levels of methane in the atmosphere, disease dangers and odors that threaten community quality of life. Thomas’ concept centers on a mobile modularized bio-digester, a stackable, movable unit trucked into a farm, capable of solving treatment, conversion and storage issues on site. The process allows waste to energy conversion by reducing the amount of waste going into the water systems, producing value-added products such as treated organic fertilizer and stored bio-methane. The ensuing value chain will allow small and medium-sized farms to produce organic fertilizer for sale, to lease or buy digester units and to hire the company to do processing and maintenance.

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