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JAMAICA
Government started the construction of a solar power plant
Latinamerica Press
7/23/2015
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The project is the most important one in the region and it will provide electricity to about 200,000 households.

On July 9, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller, launched the construction of a solar power plant which is going to be the biggest and most sophisticated plant in the Caribbean, scheduled to connect to the national electricity supply network starting on June 2016.

The photovoltaic project, valued in US$61million and to be funded by private investors, will generate 20 megawatts of power and will provide electricity to more than 200,000 households. In an official statement, the government noted that this initiative “will replace approximately 3 million gallons of fossil fuel per year.” Jamaica annually imports more than 20 million barrels of oil, allocating $2 million for its purchase, almost 12 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Solar energy, which uses photovoltaic cells, will help to reduce energy and electricity costs since it is considered to be a long-term energy source.

According to Simpson-Miller, “the investment in this non-traditional energy source is significant for a number of reasons. It is sound business and a welcome new economic activity. It is expected to employ some 60 persons in its construction phase.”

As an objective for 2020, the government intends for 15 percent of electricity to be produced through renewable energy, which “reflects the commitment to diversify our energy mix during this administration’s tenure,” said the prime minister. Jamaica’s energy policy plans that, by 2030, 20 percent of the country`s energy derives from renewable sources.

The photovoltaic plant will be situated in the locality of Compton, in the southern part of the country, and will have an extent of 160 acres. The Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining of Jamaica, Julian Robinson, in statements to the press, confirmed that “reliable energy sources have revealed that alternative energy techniques, such as wind, solar, and electric storage, continued to gain ground in 2014, with solar in particular capturing almost 50 percent of all global investments in clean energy.”

Investments grow
In addition, the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining has scheduled to install solar panels in 15 schools before September. Hillary Alexander, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, mentioned that “we’ll be working with the Ministry of Education very closely and looking at the quality of the infrastructure as well. Not everything can accommodate the solar panels.”

Other Caribbean countries are also pushing for the use of sources of renewable energy. During the 2015 Summit of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which was held in Barbados on July 3-5, the General Secretary of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, congratulated Caribbean countries “for taking on ambitious renewable energy targets.”  Ban highlighted the example of Barbados, the host country of the summit, pointing out that “by 2020, for example, Barbados will be one of the world`s top five leading users of solar energy on a per capita basis. You are lighting the path to the future.”

According to the report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2015,” published on Apr. 1, worldwide investment in 2014 on this type of energies grew by nearly 17 percent in comparison to 2013, reaching a sum of $270 billion, from which $150 billion were in solar energy.

In the case of Jamaica, Robinson affirmed that the government has invested $200 million in diverse renewable energy initiatives that will be operational next year. The solar plant of Compton, “is of strategic national importance to Jamaica and is one of three successfully selected proposals from among 24 other projects to provide a total of 115 MW of renewable energy to the Jamaican power grid,” pointed out the Minister.
—Latinamerica Press.


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Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller (center) breaks ground for solar energy plant. (Photo: diarioecologia.com)
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