Feature
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw (Left), in discussion with (from second left): Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC), Joseph Gyles, and Energy Engineer at the NIC, Emile Myers, following the official commissioning of the Bengal Pump Station solar system, on January 23.
Photo: Michael Sloley

Story Highlights

  • The Bengal Pump Station, located in the farming community of Braco, North Trelawny, is the first of the National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) pump stations to be retrofitted with a large-scale solar photovoltaic system.
  • The retrofitted pump station, which was commissioned into service at a ceremony at the facility, on January 23, is a part of the NIC’s Renewable Energy Utilisation Programme, as the entity moves towards reducing their carbon footprint by decreasing the amount of fossil fuel used in their operations.
  • Project Manager and Energy Engineer at the NIC, Emile Myers, tells JIS News that the improved station has now given the Commission the ability to reduce its operating costs, and offer better service to customers, as the focus is shifted from electricity to solar energy.

The Bengal Pump Station, located in the farming community of Braco, North Trelawny, is the first of the National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC) pump stations to be retrofitted with a large-scale solar photovoltaic system.

The retrofitted pump station, which was commissioned into service at a ceremony at the facility, on January 23, is a part of the NIC’s Renewable Energy Utilisation Programme, as the entity moves towards reducing their carbon footprint by decreasing the amount of fossil fuel used in their operations.

Project Manager and Energy Engineer at the NIC, Emile Myers, tells JIS News that the improved station has now given the Commission the ability to reduce its operating costs, and offer better service to customers, as the focus is shifted from electricity to solar energy.

He says the NIC expects a significant increase in renewable energy systems across the island in the next three months and “by March of 2022, there will be a 1-megawatt system in Hounslow, St Elizabeth, to serve the irrigation district there.”

“A solar photovoltaic system utilises energy from the sun and converts it to electricity through the solar panels. It goes through a solar invertor and we are able to power the pumps using the electricity that is produced,” Mr. Myers explains.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw (centre); Chief Executive Officer of the National Irrigation Commission Limited, Mr. Joseph Gyles (left), and Chairman of the National Irrigation Commission Limited, Senator Aubyn Hill, inspect the newly retrofitted Bengal Pump Station, in Braco, Trelawny, following a commissioning ceremony for a solar system, on January 23.

 

Communities served by the system are Braco and Rio Bueno. The Braco Estate and the Melia Braco Village also benefit from the pump station.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, noted that the retrofit includes the installation of a 90kw grid-tied solar photovoltaic system to self-generate 75 per cent of the energy requirement of the pump station.

“The system is expected to reduce the annual energy cost at this facility by $3 million and will pay for itself within nine years,” he said.

“The use of this renewable energy technology will not only influence cost, but also reduce the NIC’s carbon footprint by 110 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions annually,” the Minister pointed out.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the NIC, Senator Aubyn Hill, lauded the Energy Team and members from Alternative Power Source for their hard work in completing the Bengal Pump station.

Alternative Power Source was contracted to undertake the project.

“This solar system directly contributes to the assurance of food security, as the water produced goes directly to the farming communities and the tourism industry. The farmers in Braco and surrounding areas use this water to grow vegetables and herbs that are in high demand by the hotels and other markets,” Senator Hill noted.

“By the end of the financial year 2019/2020, NIC’s energy cost avoidance is projected to be approximately $50 million by utilising solar and other energy saving initiatives,” he added.

Senator Hill said the NIC has set an ambitious target that by 2022, the NIC should be self-generating approximately 16 per cent or more of its energy requirement, using renewable energy technologies.