Energy projects in train, set to double renewables in Jamaica

BY TERRON DEWAR Business reporter

Sunday, September 21, 2014

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JAMAICA Public Service Company (JPS) on Thursday signed three power purchase agreements (PPAs) that will add 80.3 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to the national grid before the end of 2015.

The agreements in total, represent an investment of US$196 million ($23 billion) and will boost the country's renewable generating capacity from six to 11 per cent, said Albert Gordon, director general of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR).

This is actually 1.5 per cent shy of the government's target. The national energy policy (NEP) 2009-2030 has established a milestone of having 12.5 per cent of electrical energy generated from renewable sources by 2015.

However, the shortfall will be reduced as the generating capacities of the renewable systems become more efficient over time.

Blue Mountain Renewable (BMR), will invest US$90 million to supply 34 MW of capacity to JPS. This will be sold into the national grid at a cost of US$0.1290 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) from wind power located roughly three kilometres (km) south of Malvern in St Elizabeth.

Consumers currenly pays US$0.042 cents per kWh in Jamaica,

So far, BMR has managed to lay over 18 km of transmission lines without any major interference to private or residential property said Bruce Levy, president of BMR Jamaica Wind Limited.

BMR also offered an additional 2.3MW at a discounted rate of US$0.1030 per KWh, which increased the amount of renewable energy originally tendered by the three companies from 78 MW to 80.3MW.

Wigton Windfarm, which currently has approximately 38.7-MW of generating capacity, will invest US$46 million in its third facility located in south Manchester.

The Wigton 3, as the project is dubbed, will supply another 24-MW of energy to JPS at a cost of US$0.1330 per KWh. It is expected to generate approximately 62,072 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy annually, accounting for two per cent of the island's renewable energy generation.

This is enough to power 31,500 homes, and will substitute 37,000 barrels of oil, thus saving the country about $400 million annually, said the chairman of Wigton Windfarm, Ian Kelly.

Over the 10 years that Wigton has been in operation, it has saved the country approximately $3 billion by reducing the demand for over 460,000 barrels.

Solar company WRB Enterprise, will also be investing US$60 million to build a solar plant in Content Village, Clarendon, that will deliver 20 MW of solar power to the National grid at a cost of US$0.1880 per kWh.

Construction of the solar plant will feature the use of over 91,000 solar panels, spanning over 160 acres of land and is expected to be completed by July 2015.

The plant will have the capacity to power 20,000 homes and is projected to eliminate the need for three million gallons of imported fuel per year.

"Our goal, as I have consistently stated, is to have by 2030, 25 per cent of our energy for electricity coming from renewable sources, and we are well on our way to achieving that," said Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell, before officially presenting the licences.

The signing of the agreements "represents the beginning of an energy revolution in Jamaica", said Kelly Tomblin. As long as the country remained 95 per cent dependent on foreign oil, customers will never be free, the president of JPS said.

All three projects are expected to be commissioned before the end of 2015 and will create 300 jobs during their construction phase.

Upon completion, Jamaica will be the region's forerunner in the use of renewable energy. The Wigton Windfarm and the WRB Solar plant will be the largest wind and solar projects in the English-speaking Caribbean.

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