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Commerce, Science and Technology Minister, Phillip Paulwell, has said that some 10 per cent of the island’s energy needs could come from renewable sources by the year 2010.
The Minister, who was addressing the launch of the publication ‘Renewable Energies Potential in Jamaica’ this morning (Dec.16) at the Hilton Kingston hotel, said that the government was firmly committed to more extensive use of renewable energy and has been developing mechanisms toward this goal.
He however pointed out that to date, Jamaica’s exploitation of renewable sources of energy had lagged behind its full potential, hindered by market barriers such as the lack of appropriately prepared bankable projects; financing; limited human capacity; and the general lack of awareness about the technologies and benefits of renewable energy.
“As recommended by the United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) study to attract foreign investment, we need a one-stop agency as a central contact point,” Minister Paulwell said, adding that financial and fiscal incentives were also necessary.
“If we are to seriously develop our renewable energy potential, we must ensure that any potential barriers are addressed in a speedy manner and that investors, local or foreign, are encouraged to build their projects as quickly as possible,” he added.
According to Minister Paulwell, Jamaica must build on its significant natural advantages. He noted that the country was already gaining ground through initiatives such as the Wigton wind farm and other projects now underway.
Noting that government was looking at the production of ethanol from sugar cane, he mentioned that the state-owned refinery, Petrojam had partnered with the Brazilian firm Coimex, to rebuild a 40-million gallon ethanol plant, construction of which was expected to begin in March 2006. “Ultimately, we want to increase the ethanol content of gasoline from the existing 5 per cent to 10 per cent,” the Minister said.
In addition, Coimex was negotiating for potential sites for a new 60-million gallon facility and the company is also looking at the establishment of a small hydro power plant at Laughlands in St. Ann. This project, now at an advanced stage, would be the first of its kind in Jamaica.
Going forward, Minister Paulwell said, “we want to encourage greater investment in new and renewable energies. We need also to look at the legal and regulatory framework to make this possible and to build the capacity in Jamaica to implement the project”.
By focusing on renewable energy, he noted, “we have everything to gain and nothing to lose as the cost of fossil fuels will continue to climb, whereas the wind, the sun, and the water are by definition free”.