Government's decision to pursue alternative energy sources to reduce heavy reliance on fossil fuel, is seen by one of the island's highly recognized energy consultants as a wise move at the right time.
Manager for special projects at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), Dr. Raymond Wright, believes that with the projection for skyrocketing oil prices in 2011, the decision to seek alternate energy sources was right and prudent, and an imperative.
"Given the fact that our energy costs are high, especially in the context of the Caribbean, we need to find some way of bringing our energy prices lower so that we can be competitive. So we have to look for alternative sources, not only for cost reasons but also for environmental reasons," he told JIS News.
Dr. Wright pointed out that current efforts at harnessing hydro power resources, the two Waste-to-Energy projects being explored, the proposal to introduce Bio-fuels from local sources as a possibility and expanding the Wigton wind plant infrastructure capacity, were excellent moves aimed at reducing the cost of energy.
He said that the Wigton Wind Farm, which has an installed capacity of 20.7 megawatts, will commission a new expansion of 18 Megawatts on February 23.
"We're also, rather busily, working on developing new Green Field sites that will have wind potential for the future. We believe there is another 60, 70 or even 80 Megawatts of wind energy that can be generated onshore Jamaica," he told JIS News.
On the matter of the Government's thrust to improve energy efficiency, the energy consultant said this was an 'exceedingly helpful' move, especially in today's high energy cost environment.
He noted that it was important that energy efficiency becomes ingrained in Jamaican culture; that energy use is cardinal and must be done as efficiently as possible.
Jamaica's first National Energy Policy was passed into law by an act of Parliament in November 2010.
CONTACT: O. RODGER HUTCHINSON