Wheatley says UTech’s degree critical to regional cooperation on climate change
Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley says the Master’s of Science in Sustainable Energy and Climate Change recently launched at the University of Technology (UTech) will play an important role in Jamaica’s collaboration with Caricom on green economy development.
“It is a pioneer programme that will graduate critical thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs in the sustainable energy and green economy fields,” Dr Wheatley told last Tuesday’s Renewable Energy Central America and Caribbean Congress in Panama.
“It is expected that graduates of this master’s programme, which begins in May 2017, should grow our home base of sustainable energy and green economy sector researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs, fitting squarely into the green economy direction Jamaica is heading, and squarely into Government’s development agenda,” the minister said.
He told the congress that as a result of growing interest in the subject, 15.5 per cent of electricity was generated from renewables in 2016, and these new plants are expected to make even greater contributions in 2017.
“I believe the renewable energy bug has more than bitten Jamaica. I have visited many sites, schools and other public institutions that have been retrofitted with alternative energy solutions, such as LED lighting and PV (photovoltaic) systems,” Wheatley said.
In 2016 alone, some 80.0 megawatts of renewable energy generation were commissioned into service in Jamaica, comprising 60.0 megawatts of wind and a 20.0-megawatts solar power plant, he added.
He noted that, having successfully implemented three phases of wind farm solutions up to 63.2 megawatt capacity, the Wigton Windfarm commissioned into service its upgraded resource centre in November, with a modern renewable energy training laboratory, outfitted with working models.
He pointed out that Wigton has also instituted a ‘train the trainers’ programme, to ensure local sustainability for the development of renewable technologies, as it positions itself to serve as a premier renewable energy training facility for the region.
“In addition, I also granted a licence to Eight Rivers Energy Company for the build, own and operation of a 37.0 megawatt solar power plant to be commissioned in 2018, which will further contribute to the decreased dependence on the volatile fossil fuel,” he said.
Dr Wheatley said that between 2012 and 2016, Jamaica cut its importation of oil and, if this continues, the country will be able to save over US$1.7 billion by 2020.
Wheatley delivered the keynote ministerial opening address at the second Central American and Caribbean Renewable Energy Congress, RECAM 2017, in Panama City.
A news release from the ministry last Monday said that the congress, which ended on March 9, serves as a networking opportunity for the more than 350 senior renewable energy executives in the Central American and Caribbean region, and policymakers. It also places emphasis on green energy sector best practices, national policies, and case studies in the field.