Caribbean Climate Innovation Center grantee keeps her eye on fuel’s big picture with castor oil briquettes
In the Caribbean, the insatiable demand for fuel for cooking and fragrant woods for smoking meat poses a significant threat to the environment and the local economy. Old forests are disappearing while the cultivation of high-value products like allspice is replaced by the production of cheap fuel for today’s cooking needs. Shirley Lindo, one of the first grantee of the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC), may have found in the cultivation of castor beans a solution to preserve the island’s valuable trees and limit the widespread use of charcoal and kindling.
Her close-knit commune in Bernard Lodge, St. Catherine, is a self-sustained community of family and workers that once was part of a large sugar plantation managed by her ancestors. In addition to subsistence foods like ackee and pineapple, the community produces also moringa and castor beans. The latter in particular have showed an incredible business potential: in addition to the sale of the home-processed castor oil, the community can commercialize its byproducts as organic fertilizer and, most importantly, as an efficient green fuel.
Her business success began when she noticed that the castor oil waste burned slowly and steadily, just like a very efficient fuel. She then started to experiment with different combinations of other agricultural waste materials to create a ‘perfect’ green briquette.
“I always wanted to develop it, but didn’t know how to start,” she said. “This has given me the chance to open my heart to something that would be good for me – not just to make a living for people but for my country, for the environment. We’re running against a ticking time bomb here.”
With the support from Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC), an initiative supported by the World Bank and infoDev’s Climate Technology Program (CTP), Shirley is now moving to the next level. She entered – and won – the first CCIC’s Proof of Concept (PoC) competition, a contest in which 300 clean-tech entrepreneurs from the Caribbean competed for over USD 400,000 in concept grants.
“I had no clue that they’d even think about my project,” she said. “I stayed up nights working on this, looking at the big picture…”
In July, Shirley became one of the eleven PoC winners for her entry in the sustainable energy solution category. She is currently fine-tuning her formula to create a denser, long-lasting briquette. Eventually, she hopes to help protect Jamaica’s valuable forests and preserve the island’s famous jerk-meat businesses by marketing a slow-burning, low-smoke briquette infused with essential oils from pimento and other aromatic woods.
“Here we are, marrying the elements around us. I want to build a business that gives people work,” Shirley Lindo said determinedly. “I’m looking forward to hiring 12 people and supporting up to 50.”
For more information about the work of the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center, go to: www.caribbeancic.org
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