Cheap Energy for Orphans
Kids Alive is an international ministry that does community development and orphan care, and their presence in the Dominican Republic is headquartered in Jarabacoa. They have a local orphanage with close to 100 kids living in various homes on their property, and in the past the electricity bill for this property has been extremely high – averaging close to $2,000 USD every month. Electricity is very expensive on an island with few natural resources.
In response to this need, last year a man by the name of John Roman purchased and donated a bio-diesel manufacturing plant to this ministry – it makes 70 gallon batches on a roughly once per week basis. He also applied for a grant from the German government to purchase some solar panels, and as a result the orphanage is now close to being “off the grid”. They still have to spend some money to buy used vegetable oil locally, purchase methanol and potassium hydroxide, and employ one person to run the equipment. But these costs result in ~$2.50 per gallon diesel, as opposed to the $5.00 per gallon you pay at a gas station, and it creates local jobs. And better still, the orphanage bills are now approximately ¼ of what they once were.
John moved back to the states last summer, and as a result I (Harley) have been recruited to oversee this process in his absence. I’ve been spending a few hours every week checking the quality of the product, providing input on levels of potassium hydroxide to use, purchase of the oil, etc. It has been a fun project to be involved in, and satisfying to know that Kids Alive can put those precious dollars to better use serving orphans instead of paying bills.
By the way, if any of you are interested in getting started with bio-diesel, my consulting rates are very reasonable! We wish you all a very merry