Gov’t Gets 100,000 Euro Grant for Study to Introduce Solar Energy Systems in Schools


The Government of Jamaica has received a 100,000 Euro grant from the Government of Spain, to carry out a feasibility study for the introduction of solar energy systems in 34 public schools across the island.
The project, which will allow for the introduction of best practices in the energy sector of Jamaica while helping to substantially reduce the energy bill of the schools, was funded through the Spanish Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Addressing the grant signing ceremony held on June 24 at the Education Ministry in Kingston, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, welcomed the project which, he said, would provide a viable alternative to carbon-based energy, and reduce the cost of electricity to schools, which amounts to some $500 million each year.
The Education Minister pointed out that already, a number of schools have been using renewable energy in their day-to-day operations, citing a wind turbine project at Munroe College in St. Elizabeth and a “very sophisticated solar system” at Irwin High School in St. James.
He informed that as soon as the study is undertaken, the findings will be implemented as the “first step in moving towards having all schools having some form of alternative energy system.”
Minister of Energy and Mining, Hon. James Robertson, commended the project as a major step towards the use of solar as an alternative energy source. He noted that “solar as an energy source is best suited for institutions, as schools use their energy in the day.”
Ambassador of Spain, His Excellency Jesus Silva, in noting the importance of the project, said that: “If we teach the young Jamaicans in schools that there are other ways of producing energy, we are teaching them one of the most important lessons that we can teach to the next generation.”
He informed that Spain is currently one of the leading countries of the world in the production of energy renewable sources, with energy needs being produced from wind, solar or hydro energy. In 2008, Spain was the leading European country in the production of solar energy.
According to a brief presented at the signing, the initial feasibility study to be undertaken will include information on electricity and water consumption assessment to determine, inter alia, the actual electricity consumption of selected schools; a structural building analysis to identify and assess the most suitable areas for the installation of solar energy systems in schools; and analysis of solar energy systems to determine the best structure for each school.
It will also include economic and financial analyses and calculation of the initial cost of the investment of each solar system; the return on investment for a maximum of 15 years; and the annual saving on the electricity bill by the introduction of solar energy systems.
The schools selected are located in the six educational regions across the island. Seven schools have been selected for Region one in Kingston and St. Andrew and the Western part of St. Thomas; Region two will comprise four schools in Eastern St. Thomas, Portland and Eastern St. Mary; Region three will entail six schools in Western St. Mary, St. Ann and Trelawny; for Region four, six schools in St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland, will benefit: five schools in St. Elizabeth and Manchester will benefit in Region five; and Region six, will involve six schools in Clarendon and St. Catherine.
The initial study will be undertaken by Kingston-based company, CALA Telcom Services.

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