Jamaica poised for energy revolution, says Williams

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Jamaica poised for energy revolution, says Williams

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter

Monday, March 02, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Citing investment projections of more than US$7.3 billion in the energy sector and partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams says Jamaica is poised to revolutionise the local energy landscape.

“With the help of our developmental partners, the Inter-American Development Bank, Jamaica now has a strategic framework on electric mobility for discussion with key stakeholders and priority action and I can say Jamiaca is in a pole position to reshape, redefine and redraw the energy landscape,” the energy minister told the opening ceremony of the fourth staging of the Ministerial Meeting of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre last week.

“We will achieve 100 per cent electrification, affording every citizen access to safe, affordable, and reliable energy. We will achieve 50 per cent of renewable energy mix by 2037, we will reduce carbon dioxide emissions with electric vehicles and greater renewable mix, we will increase the contribution of energy to economic growth, job creation and sustainable livelihoods,“ said Williams.

The two-day conference, which started last Thursday, was held under the theme: 'Energy Resilience and Investment Opportunities'.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the energy ministers from around the hemisphere that 18 per cent of Jamaica's electricity now is being generated from renewable sources.

“However, we have set ourselves a very ambitious target of having 50 per cent of our electricity generation by 2037,” noted Holness.

“And considerable work continues, to diversify our energy sources and incorporate more renewable energy. The aim is to secure Jamaica's energy future making the country more resilient in the face of natural disasters, and volatility in fuel prices. Jamaica now enjoys a mix of solar power plants, wind farms and hydroelectricity.”

But, senior regional energy specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Dr Malaika Masson expressed concern that despite setting ambitious energy targets, all but two Caricom nations are still lagging way behind in achieving the 50 per cent renewables target.

“When we look at the regional level and we look in, take a step back and look in at Caricom, the countries there; we have been talking about renewable energy targets and we have been talking about the importance of renewable energy, but you see that at the target of 48 per cent, only two countries are anywhere near that.

“So the countries in the Caribbean have not met those ambitious renewable energy targets,” said Dr Masson during a session on day one of the two-day conference which ended last Friday.

“They have made promises, they have set intentions, but we still have a way to go and they have not set energy efficient targets and are nowhere near meeting those either,” added Masson.

While seeming to accept that the Caricom is behind the planned pace, Williams called on regional leaders to move swiftly to achieve the targeted energy goals.

“History will provide a scathing rebuke of this generation of leaders if we fail to move from words to action and from plans to implementation. Time is against us. We must have the robust frameworks, the legislative regulatory policy, institutional mechanisms to allow countries to address fundamental and systematic challenges that hinder sustainable growth and development.

“We must leverage our resources in the hemisphere to act now to build on successes if we are to cover ground in a Usain-like 100-meter sprint,” argued Williams.

“Leaders, although we are in a race against time, we can deliver on our commitments to our people if we focus on our strengths and not our differences,” declared Williams.


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