Business

Jamaica can triple wind energy output

Friday, August 23, 2013    

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JAMAICA can triple its electricity generated from wind if it uses up its full potential.

A recent wind resource assessment identified four locations suitable for energy development with a combined potential generating capacity of 212 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually (just over five per cent of total consumption).

The study, which assessed 24 prospective sites across the island, revealed that Rose Hill and Top Lincoln in Manchester, Winchester at the foot of the John Crow Mountains in St Thomas, and Kemps Hill in Clarendon could each yield more than 5.3 million kWh a year.

The Winchester site in St Thomas was described as "by far the best wind site surveyed so far", according to a Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) press statement released yesterday.

PCJ-owned Wigton Windfarm has already picked the Rose Hill site to place a 24 megawatt (MW) wind farm facility, for which it made a submission to the Office of Utilities Regulation's (OUR) in response to a Request for Proposals for 115 MW of electricity generation capacity from renewable energy sources.

Wigton, which currently produces 97 million kWh from its 38.7 MW of installed capacity, projected that it could generate 63 million kWh from the new site by 2015.

And if the other three sites are developed, total wind energy production in Jamaica could surpass 320 million kWh, after taking Jamaica Public Service Company's (JPS's) Munro Wind Farm output into account.

What's more, when the four addtional sites are exploited, Jamaica stands to reduce national oil consumption by at least 124,000 barrels a year, which cost above $1.2 billion annually.

The wind resource assessment was carried out as part of a wind and solar development programme, which is being implemented by Wigton under a funding agreement between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the PCJ.

"The programme aims to increase Jamaica's utilisation of renewables by developing photovoltaic and wind power plants to supply the national grid," said the PCJ release.

The study was based on data collected between November 2011 and January 2012.

"With our current focus on utilising our natural resources to address our energy challenges, both the government and the private sector need credible information to make development and investment decisions about viable energy solutions," said Earl Barrett, Wigton Windfarm's general manager.

"The national wind resource assessment will be a great resource to the majority of interests in Jamaica's energy Sector, but we hope it will be particularly useful for potential investors."

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