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Jamaica to boost its energy industry with renewables

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Energy Global,

Jamaica is making significant strides in boosting the diversification of its energy sector, as the government looks to implement the island’s ambitious Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

The initiative has set a goal of adding around 1600 MW of generation capacity over the next 20 years to expand the island’s energy resources. The aim is to facilitate reduced energy prices, and decrease vulnerability of the energy sector to external shocks such as oil prices. The IRP creates business opportunities in the form of requests for proposals (RFPs) that seek investors to fulfil the demand for more energy generation.

The IRP’s targets include 1260 MW of wind and solar, 330 MW of LNG, and 74 MW of hydro, biomass, or waste energy by the year 2037. JAMPRO, Jamaica’s investment promotions agency, is tasked with securing the local and foreign investment that will drive the plan’s success, and the achievement of these targets.

The island is well on its way. Jamaica wants to have 33% of electricity generation from renewables by 2030, and there are already impressive renewable energy projects on the island that are proving to be a strong foundation for the country’s energy resource plan. The 20-MW Content Solar Ltd. solar energy electricity generation plant owned by WRB Energy Company in Clarendon is one such example. In Westmoreland, the largest photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Jamaica, the 51 MWp Paradise Park solar farm, is one of the island’s cheapest producers of energy.

There is also the Wigton Windfarm in Rose Hill, Manchester, which is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the Caribbean with a 20.7 MW plant and an 18 MW extension facility. Jamaica’s energy provider, the Jamaica Public Service (JPS)’s Munro Wind Farm has a 3 MW capacity, while Blue Mountain Renewable (BMR) Jamaica Wind generates 34 MW. In St. Elizabeth, the JPS utility company operates a 7.2 MW hydro-electric plant in Maggoty.

Regarding these projects, Don Gittens, JAMPRO’s Manager of Logistics, Energy, and Infrastructure, stated “Current renewable energy projects represent approximately 14% of energy generation in Jamaica, but our target is 50%. There is therefore a significant opportunity because we have that gap between 14% and 50% that we intend to fill with additional renewable energy investments.”

Jamaica is currently seeking to procure 320 MW of wind and solar, 120 MW of LNG and 74 MW of hydro, biomass, or waste energy for this year. Gittens elaborated, “That is the opportunity that exists right now for investors, so, these are very exciting times.”

Interest high in Jamaica’s energy sector

According to JAMPRO, there is serious interest in Jamaica’s energy sector. The Agency is entertaining several local and international investors who are interested in partaking in the RFP that is to come with the aforementioned energy generation opportunities.

This interest was maintained by JAMPRO through the pandemic, as the organisation chose to intensify its marketing activities. The company increased its digital outreach and direct engagements with sector leaders and business executives locally and internationally.

Diane Edwards, President of JAMPRO, said, “While there was a feeling of uncertainty, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, we knew that we had to continue to nurture our relationships and the renewable energy opportunity in Jamaica, and increase our marketing activities. COVID-19 re-emphasised the fact that sectors like logistics, energy, and agriculture must be major priorities, so the Jamaican government really used this time to identify the areas that needed even more focus as we continue Jamaica’s development.”

Sector development initiatives have continued, and JAMPRO has partnered with entities like New Energy Events and the REA - The Association for Renewable Energy & Clean Technology in the UK to continue its global promotion of the energy industry. Jamaica has also begun work on the development of an electronic vehicle charging network, confirming the country’s commitment to alternative energy sources.

“This is a very exciting time within the local and global energy sector as everything is moving towards renewable energy,” Gittens enthused. “Once the RFPs are ready, we are confident there will be a lot of investment coming through.”



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