Jamaica is to partner with Cuba for the transfer of knowledge and technology to facilitate the local manufacture and assembly of cost effective photovoltaic (solar) light panels.
This undertaking forms part of the administration’s move towards incorporating renewable alternatives into the local energy mix, so as to reduce the country’s huge energy bill.
Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, who made the disclosure during the ceremonial switching on of lights in New Forest/Plumwood, Manchester on Wednesday, July 3, said that the Rural Electrification Programme (REP) Limited will guide the process.
This is in keeping with the agency’s new mandate, which is focused on developing renewable energy solutions for those households further than three kilometres from the national grid, and promoting energy efficiency and conservation.
Minister Paulwell, in his 2013/14 Budget Debate presentation in Parliament in May, informed that the REP will be renamed Jamaica Energy Solutions Limited (JESL), and given a new role.
He indicated at the time, that the renewable energy solutions to be developed by the agency, would target the remaining four per cent of rural households yet to receive electricity, in order to bring electrification island-wide to 100 per cent.
He noted that the REP, since its inception in 1975, has successfully wired over 80,000 homes in rural communities, bringing the electrification rate in rural households to 96 per cent, which he contended, is “better than most countries in the world.”
He said the Government is committed to electrifying the remaining four per cent of households, even while problems related to terrain in those areas, as well as distance from the national grid infrastructure, of more than three kilometres in most cases, makes bringing the grid to them unfeasible.
He said it is for this reason that the focus of the REP has to be shifted to focus on renewable technologies.
He said that REP Chairman, Rev. Dr. Garnett Roper, will guide this transition, which will also include providing project management services for the design and implementation of energy solutions for major housing initiatives by agencies of the state, especially where low-income earners are the targeted beneficiaries.
“The new entity will be mandated, as we have done with Wigton (Wind Farms Limited). Wigton is a successful Government venture making money for the Jamaican people. It is also producing electricity at the cheapest rate, cheaper than oil. And so, we need more wind farms. We need to incorporate more solar energy…that is the new mission of the REP,” Mr. Paulwell stated.
Over 50 residents of New Forest/Plumwood have been provided with electricity by REP at a cost of just over $3 million.
Contact: Douglas McIntosh