Renewable energy boosting Jamaica's development

Renewable energy boosting Jamaica's development

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

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Increasing the share of renewable energy in Jamaica's energy generation mix will not only lower costs for consumers but also contribute to saving the environment, says David Delaire, managing director, MPC Capital AG.

The commissioning of Paradise Park Solar Farm in October has increased renewable output to 17 per cent of Jamaica's energy-generation capacity, Delaire said. He pointed out that Jamaicans stand to benefit as that share rapidly increases over the next decade.

“Paradise Park, the 50 megawatt solar plant, is the cheapest source of energy in Jamaica,” he said according to a press release. “It is a great example of how renewable energy can provide clean and affordable energy, generate a stable return to investors, and create more jobs in the community.”

Paradise Park was developed by MPC, a leading investment and asset management firm based in Germany, which invested in the Westmoreland project through its subsidiary MPC Caribbean Clean Energy Fund. Electricity from the plant is sold to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) at 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

“Cost is being reduced at a very fast pace within the renewables sector, as the technology improves,” Delarie said. “Looking ahead, costs will continue to fall, making it more affordable to change the energy mix and reduce carbon emissions. This will happen on a larger scale in Jamaica in the near future.”

Pointing to the stretch target which Prime Minister Holness set for Jamaica to generate 50 per cent of its energy from renewables, Delaire said, “I am quite confident that it will happen in Jamaica. I can see where the renewable component will be more than 30 per cent in the next five to 10 years.”

Minister of Science, Energy & Technology Fayval Williams stated at an energy forum early in October that Paradise Park, by itself, had helped to eliminate more than 30,000 tons of carbon emissions every year; but Jamaica is committed to mitigating the equivalent of 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year by the year 2030.

Delaire said MPC had identified the Caribbean as an area of huge opportunity for renewables, as the backbone of electricity generation in the region has been dominated by obsolete diesel plants, which need to be replaced. At the same time, energy consumption is rising steadily, resulting in a gap between consumption and generation.

“We need development finance institutions, local investors and government to work together to bridge that gap,” he said. “We are also putting our money on the table. As MPC Capital, we have already invested US$5 million into the MPC Caribbean Clean Energy Fund which helped to deliver Paradise Park. We are alongside you, not just in words, but in order to convert the energy mix.”

Jermaine Deans, deputy general manager, JN Fund Managers, who spearheaded the team responsible for the initial public offering of the MPC Caribbean Clean Energy Fund earlier this year, admitted he has only recently come to appreciate the full potential of renewable energy.

“It was only after I went to the largest renewable energy forum in the world, at Husum in Germany, that I came to understand the magnitude of renewables,” Deans said, according to the release. “I was astounded by the display of energy efficiency techniques, solar photovoltaic and wind energy developments, along with the newest energy storage technology.”

He added that there is little understanding in Jamaica about the scope of the existing renewable energy plants, which are already in the country, at Paradise Park and Wigton in Manchester, as well as at Content in Clarendon.

“The cost of imported petroleum has been a heavy burden on Jamaica's finances for nearly two generations,” Deans said. “We now have options that pay dividends to our environment, our economy, and our own bank account.”

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