JAMAICA Public Service Co Ltd (JPS) and the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) have entered into a partnership agreement to establish a solar renewable energy facility at UTech's Papine campus.
Valentine Fagan, vice-president, generation expansion, JPS, explained that the main objectives of the project are to "demonstrate the viability, true costs and operational factors of solar energy projects in Jamaica as well as to use it as an educational tool to expose students and eventually our customers to new energy technologies".
He noted that the partnership with UTech is an important development towards the diversification of the energy sector and for contributing to the National Energy Policy of increasing the percentage of renewables in the energy mix to 20 per cent by 2030.
The flagship project will see the installation of a 100kW solar voltaic unit on the Papine campus of the University of Technology, Jamaica. The project will see UTech providing the site for the installation of the solar panels as well as technical input, while JPS will provide technical and financial resources.
UTech School of Engineering students will participate in the design, installation and operation of the facility; use the units as a model for training in photovoltaic technology; undertake maintenance of the plant as part of their learning experience and collect and analyse performance data to inform future projects.
The university also stands to benefit as the facility will be configured to sell to the grid and will also be a teaching tool to prepare the country for future smart grid technologies.
Fagan noted that it is also anticipated that the initiative will heighten the public's interest in solar energy as an alternative.
In welcoming the partnership, Prof Errol Morrison, president of UTech, said: "UTech is committed to this project and to making it work."
He said that the collaboration is an "opportunity to demonstrate the potential for the learning modalities as well as the potential for the development of an entrepreneurial industry by our students."
The president congratulated Dr Ruth Potopsingh, director of Sustainable Energy, UTech and her team for enabling the collaboration between academia and industry, emphasising that our students should be engaged in learning "not just for learning", but to use the application of learning for making money.
Dr Potopsingh, in her remarks, expressed pride that "for the first time UTech will have a diversified energy mix, using clean renewable energy and thereby reducing our carbon foot print and exercising our responsibility towards developing a low carbon economy in the Caribbean."
She noted that the initiative to install a 100 kwt of solar PV plant to generate electricity offers opportunities for coalescing efforts across faculties and colleges.