Jamaica, Canada partner on energy research

Jamaica, Canada partner on energy research

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

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Local NGO emPOWERed Caribbean Communities has partnered with a British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) to establish an energy research unit the parties say will find real-world solutions to everyday problems people face.

In addititon to research, the unit — Caribbean Energy Solutions Research Institute (CESRI) — is expected to provide technical assistance to the energy sector in the island and the Caribbean while sharing best practices and bench-marking with other research- focused organisations.

At the signing of the agreement at the High Commission of Canada in Jamaica recently, the partnership was hailed as "incredibly important" for both parties.

"Canada’s tremendous renewable energy sources and experience in the sector make it an ideal partner for countries like Jamaica, which are actively pursuing a renewable energy strategy," remarked senior trade commissioner at the High Commission Julie Forrest.

"Jamaica has made significant strides in the implementation of its renewable energy deployment. The alliance between BCIT and emPOWERed Caribbean Communities to create C7ESRI will provide a collaborative vehicle for technical cooperation and research to support energy sector planning," she continued.

The agreement will last for three years in the first instance, emPOWERed Caribbean head Dr Gary Jackson explained.

"The unit will provide services of a quantitative and qualitative nature to the public and private sectors to guide and inform policy, regulatory and business decision-making in, but not limited to generation expansion, system planning, integrated resource planning, demand forecasting and transportation," he said.

"In order to effectively plan and efficiently implement, significant research, laboratory and analysis effort will need to be expended to better understand the energy situation and how it will evolve in a changing environment."

Dr Jackson said the project is expected to expand beyond three years and beyond energy.

BCIT’s Dr Kim Dotto, who signed the agreement with Jackson, said his institution stands to learn a lot from Jamaica, because although 95 per cent of its electricity is generated from renewable sources, the "land mass is so vast that there are entire communities that are 100 per cent tied to fossil fuel sources".

"BCIT works alot with real-world experiential learning... [and] this project gives us an opportunity to expand that," he said.

The MoU signing was also witnessed by permanent secretary in the energy ministry Hillary Alexander, who hailed the country’s use of renewable energy, even while acknowledging that "we can do more".

"We have the largest solar farm in the English-speaking Caribbean and we have the largest combined wind farm in the English-speaking Caribbean," she said. By the end of next year we will meet the 15 per cent of renewables as per the energy policy."

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