KINGSTON — The Ministry of Energy and Mining says it has taken on, as a top priority, the challenge to Jamaica to reduce its energy consumption by, at least, 15 percent in short order.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Hilary Alexander, made the disclosure at the launch of a study entitled, “Energy Efficiency Potential in Jamaica: Challenges, Opportunities and Strategies for Implementation”, at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica’s (PCJ) auditorium, Trafalgar Road, Kingston on Friday (May 6).
Miss Alexander noted that, at a time when world oil prices are trending upwards, there continues to be a worrying trend of high electricity consumption in Jamaica, as a whole. She noted that, between 2004 and 2009, public sector electricity consumption moved from 400 million kilowatt hours, at a cost of $4 billion, to approximately 460 million kilowatt hours, at $10 billion.
“This prompted the challenge to the public sector to reduce energy consumption by a minimum of 15 per cent in short order and, indeed, this is a challenge for all Jamaica, the private sector, large and small businesses, right down to each and every individual,” she said.
“It is a challenge that the Ministry of Energy and Mining has taken on as a top priority,” she added.
She pointed out that the goal has driven the design of the Ministry’s energy plans, and shaped Government’s investment projects, totaling some US$35 million, as well as grants of US$38 million, over the next 3-5 years.
Miss Alexander said she was confident that the study will have a formidable impact on the sustainable development of energy programmes. But, she cautioned that, while the country was making significant strides, there were still areas needing critical focus.
“We currently consume approximately 60,000 barrels of oil per day to meet our energy needs. That’s why this report is important,” she emphasised.
Annual petroleum importation moved from about 22 million barrels in 1999, to 29.1 million in 2008 and 20.5 in 2010, she stated.
“Most of our industries, certainly our bauxite industry in particular, and households, remain highly dependent on fossil fuels for power, resulting in a high energy intensity, significantly so in comparison to similar economies,” she said.
Miss Alexander noted that imported petroleum products accounted for approximately 91 per cent of the country’s energy mix, with renewable sources contributing only about nine per cent. She said the Government has, however, set a target of 20 per cent by for renewable energy sources by 2030 which, she thinks, is eminently achievable.
The report, which was commissioned by the United Nations – Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-ECLAC) , recommended a number of strategies to assist Jamaica in developing a more energy efficient economy and society. These strategies include increasing the operating efficiency of hydroelectric power plants, from an estimated 40 per cent, to around 80 per cent.
But, Minister of State in the Ministry of Energy and Mining, Hon. Laurence Broderick, noted that, in order to achieve the goals set out in the report, there was need for drastic cultural and habitual transformation among Jamaicans.
“We’re not the most efficient energy users, and we’re classified as having low awareness of the important connection between lifestyle and energy use, and the mechanisms which would allow us to make responsible choices to improve energy efficiency,” he said.
He said the national energy situation could be defined as a “high inefficiency” in the use of resources.
“It is estimated that the country wastes more than half the available energy in imported fuels,” he said. He assured that the Ministry was working assiduously to reduce the energy bill and achieve the targets for improving energy efficiency.
The report was compiled by UN Senior Consultant on Energy Efficiency, Dr. Al Binger.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter