Soleco goes after more commercial clients
RAINFORD...mining will definitely do well with renewables along with the hotel industry, though they are often constrained by space. Additionally, manufacturing and any other business in the use of heavy refrigeration will also be a good client, and these are among the range of industries we are currently looking at (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

RENEWABLE energy firm Soleco Limited, which is working to deliver on global objectives that seek to transition countries to cleaner energy solutions by 2030, said it remains on the lookout for more commercial clients spread across various industries as the company aims to deepen its footprint locally.

Founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Soleco Energy Angella Rainford, speaking with the Jamaica Observer following a breakfast workshop held last Thursday and hosted in partnership with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and IDB Invest, pinpointed a number of areas she deems as being ripe for renewables, some of which she said her company is moving to engage this year.

"Mining will definitely do well with renewables along with the hotel industry, though they are often constrained by space. Additionally, manufacturing and any other business in the use of heavy refrigeration will also be a good client, and these are among the range of industries we are currently looking at," she told Sunday Finance

"We are now in negotiations with some of these clients and we are looking to start projects with them by midyear. It's a long sales process and we have to prepare contract negotiations but I'm hoping that by the middle to the end of this year we'll be able to make some announcements," she added.

Currently working with major clients including Caribbean Broilers (CB) for which it is building out a 2.1-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic power plant and alumina refinery; Jamalco in Clarendon for the installation of solar panels, Rainford said the focus is to help clients significantly cut energy costs, realising approximately 30-40 per cent in savings, while reducing their carbon footprint.

Providing update, she said the CB project remains underway with work now half-way done while work to install over 9MW of solar panels at Jamalco was slowed following a major fire at the refinery in August 2021, but is expected to resume shortly.

"I'm hopeful that this year, once they return to having a stability of production, that they will give us the green light to proceed with the project," Rainford stated.

Running operations in other countries across the region, Rainford, who is known for her pioneering work in developing the 51-MW Paradise Park project in Westmoreland — now ranked as one of the largest solar plants in the English-speaking Caribbean — established Soleco as an extension of her other company, Rekamniar Limited.

Launched in 2019, Soleco utilises a lease-to-own model which largely sees the firm financing and managing solar energy products for clients. The company, in delivering turnkey solar energy and storage solutions for commercial and industrial customers, works closely with a number of international construction partners including Grupotec, a Spanish company which executes the engineering, procurement, construction and maintenance component of the projects.

Armed with financing of over US$24 million it secured from IDB Invest in 2021, the founder and CEO said her company remains committed to delivering the over 26MW worth of solar energy projects it wants to realise from the funds.

"We are actively looking for clients to deploy capital locally and we will also raise additional capital where needed," she said during a presentation at the workshop.

Partnering with Canadian energy company Deetken to also provide equity financing, Soleco also works with local development partners such as PanJam and other small investors. PanJam's Chairman Stephen Facey and chairman of the GraceKennedy Foundation Douglas Orane are both named as members of the company's advisory board.

Speaking to the future possibilities for residential projects, an area in which it has less focus, Rainford said that while ambitions lurk, venturing into this area would definitely be in the longer term.

"For residential, I think we would want to partner with one of the larger banks on these types of projects because of the collection of funds. It would make sense for a mortgage provider to be an entity we can work with, but that would not be a 2023 activity but further on," she stated.

"Right now as we look forward to build more next year, after onboarding more clients this year, we also hope to, by the next five years, become more of a 'pan-regional' business. We've already planted seeds in Bahamas, Barbados and the Cayman Islands, and we are viewing Jamaica as another platform in our push across the region," she further told Sunday Finance.

Kellaray Miles

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