Jamaica lights up international energy expo


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

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SALT LAKE CITY, United States — Jamaica is proving to be a major attraction for several solar providers exhibiting their products and even people just visiting the Solar Power International (SPI) Conference and Expo, now underway at the Salt Palace Convention Centre in Utah.

As the expo entered its second day yesterday, several people on the conference floor pointed to the year-round sunshine in Jamaica, and the improvements in the economy over recent years, among the factors pulling them to Jamaica.

Among those targeting the island was John Kimball, owner of Florida-based Sun Electronics, which sells used and new solar panels.

“We try to find really good deals on the used models from solar farms. Every few years they take down millions, but in the future it will be trillions of models off the old farms to replace them with newer more efficient models.

“When they take down those old models they have to do something with them and the loss of power is minimal. It's only .07 each year, so after 30 years you still have 85 per cent of the power left in the panel,” Kimball told the Jamaica Observer.

He said his company has been buying and selling old solar panels for years and would offer Jamaica a cheaper option.

“You can pick up used models for US$0.10 to US$0.20 per watt, while a new model is selling for US$0.50,” said Kimball, who closed a warehouse he operated in central Jamaica two years ago because “business was too slow”.

But now Kimball is convinced that the time is right to target Jamaica again and he will be heading to the mass media to advertise his offerings.

Minister of Science, Energy & Technology Fayval Williams was excited about the level of interest shown in Jamaica.

“It tells us that people know a lot more about Jamaica than we think they know. The news of us has gone a far way and when we look back to the past five, six or seven years, we can look back [and see] that Jamaica has done much in terms of restoring its financial strength and the fiscal area,” she said.

“It has done a lot in terms of looking at its economy. It has done a lot in terms of looking at energy security and moving the country along a renewable energy path. So... when people look at us there is much for them to be excited about,” added Williams.

United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia, who was instrumental in arranging the visit of the Jamaican delegation to the annual trade show, was equally impressed, though not surprised, by the response.

“When it comes to energy Jamaica is actually the star in the Caribbean,” declared Tapia, who has indicated that energy and education will be among his main focus areas during his tenure in office.

“We have been the star in the Caribbean for the last three, four, five years because we are forward-thinking,” added Tapia who, despite taking up his post only weeks ago, said he considers himself a Jamaican.

According to Tapia, Jamaica's previous moves in the energy sector will increase investment in the country by entities from America and other countries.

“We need to, of course, lower the [price] of electricity, which they are working very hard to do by looking at some of what you see here (at the expo) which can lower the cost of electricity in Jamaica,” said Tapia.

“As the minister mentioned, Jamaica is on the move and I think we saw today, in the room, a group of people who are interested. The room was full and that shows the interest in Jamaica,” added Tapia as he pointed to a presentation dubbed 'Trade Opportunities in Jamaica's Energy Industry' hosted by members of the Jamaican delegation earlier.

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