DEHLI, India — International Solar Alliance (ISA), based in this populous Asian city, has expressed interest in furthering its work with the Jamaica Government after providing funding of US$50,000 to complete the Little Park Solar Pump Station in St Elizabeth last year.
According to ISA's chief of the Project Implementation Unit Remesh Kumar Kuruppath, Jamaica is the first country to benefit from this type of developmental solarisation project from the organisation.
"Jamaica is our first project in the solarisation of an agricultural pumping system. It is a water pumping system that has been solarised, and this was commissioned sometime in September last year. This is the first demonstration project we have done with the country to solarise a water pumping system there, and we have a very close interaction with the Jamaica Government and team there, and they want us to do more," Kuruppath told journalists from the Caribbean and Latin America now in India on a familiarisation tour organised by the Indian Government.
This addition to the Little Park Pump Station saw the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) obtaining a 30-kilowatt solar retrofit to the Little Park-F3 Solar Pump Station through which over 390 farmers in the rural parish were already benefiting from increased and reliable access to water.
The organisation's Chief of Operations Joshua Wycliffe told the Jamaica Observer that ISA believes Jamaica's next step is to solarise other key sectors.
"It has been an absolute delight working and partnering with Jamaica. One of the areas that we are now looking at is how we have solarised our hospital rooftops. We would love to do that to health-care [and] educational facilities in Jamaica. These are two demonstration projects that can be replicated across Jamaica next," Wycliffe said.
Pointing to the negative implications on the global job market and economy, Wycliffe went on to note that the project commissioned at the Little Park Pump Station in St Elizabeth by NIC supports the push for a more sustainable agricultural sector. Furthermore, the chief of operations told the Sunday Observer that the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic saw an undeniable increase in agriculture due to the loss of jobs, and that ISA played its part in providing solarisation.
"Now Jamaica, like most island states, would also have a lot to do with fishing and marine exports, so coastal ridges are areas that we can support in terms of solarising that industrial segment. Recently there were countries, and I suspect Jamaica would be no exception, where hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost during the pandemic so people went back to farming — and we were able to provide solarisation to sustain that," Wycliffe explained.
He continued, "This saw that a new channel for exporting was created so what we have looked at is being able to provide sustainable agriculture through solarised power. So, remote villages and communities where they don't have power grid support to run the irrigation pumps, solarised pumps are an answer. They provide support for people living below the poverty line, so these are two broad areas where we can support Jamaica in being able to further solarise and transition."
In the meantime, Wycliffe told the Sunday Observer that the ISA is hoping to meet with delegates from Jamaica at its upcoming regional committee meeting in the summer.
"We have had a great working relationship with the Jamaican Government, and that has certainly helped us in putting in small demonstration projects. We are looking forward, eagerly, to the regional committee meeting that is coming up; we would like to further work with them," he said.
ISA is an international organisation with 110 member and signatory countries. It works with governments to improve energy access and security worldwide, and promotes solar power as a sustainable way to transition to a carbon-neutral future.
To support those projects the organisation partners with multilateral development banks, development financial institutions, private and public sector organisations, civil society, and other international institutions to deploy cost-effective and transformational solutions through solar energy, especially in the least -eveloped countries and the small-island developing states.