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VIDEO: PetroCaribe Development Fund to intensify renewable investment in 2014

Steven Jackson

Wednesday, December 11, 2013    

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VIDEO: PetroCaribe Development Fund to intensify renewable investment in 2014

PETROCARIBE Development Fund aims to increase its financing of clean energy projects in 2014 as part of the national goal to reduce the island's reliance on fossil fuels.

The fund wants to include biogas and solar projects led by state enterprises to its mainly wind portfolio, chief executive of the fund Wesley Hughes told the Observer at its Beechwood Avenue headquarters on Monday.

"(The PetroCaribe agreement with Venezuela) speaks specifically for the region to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel," said Hughes. "So we see as our strategic objective to increase our lending to renewables and we are looking at a number of renewables."

Approximately 64 megawatts (MW) of the 930 MW installed generating capacity in Jamaica is made up of wind and hydroelectric generators. The most prominent is that of Wigton Windfarm turbines in Mandeville. Another 6.4 MW hydro plant in Magotty, St Elizabeth, is set to come on line next year.

Additionally, Wigton Windfarm Limited, a subsidiary of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, recently identified four locations suitable for wind energy development with a combined potential generating capacity of 212 million Kilowatt hours annually.

There is also a private sector-led initiative to add 115 MW of renewables to the grid.

PetroCaribe lends to government agencies and would not directly invest in these private sector projects. However PCJ put in its own bid for renewables.

"We invested heavily in Wigton," Hughes explained without specifics. "We are the main financiers in all three phases and we are looking at other biogas and solar to increase our renewable capacity."

The National Energy Policy (NEP) aims to increase the proportion of electrical energy generated by renewable technology to 20 per cent by 2030.

"The greatest legacy that we could have going forward is one which says that we have reduced our dependence on oil and increased our renewable capacity," said Hughes.

Jamaica spends some US$2 billion on oil imports annually, but the deferred oil payments under the PetroCaribe arrangement effectively provides some US$500 million in balance of payment support to Government annually.

This is significant in a cash-strapped economy currently relying on financial support from the International Monetary Fund.

At the end of March 2013 the total loan liability to Petroleos de Venezuela was $240 billion (US$2.4 billion. A total of US$150 million was repaid to Venezuela and the projected repayment for financial year 2013/14 is US$100 million. The fund has total assets of J$261 billion as at March 2013.

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