The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), in partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI), will shortly commence a 3-year study of wind and solar to enhance the country’s renewable energy options.
The study is being funded to the tune of just over US$1 million, through a US$750,000 grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), as well as provisions from the PCJ, of approximately US$230,000, and the UWI, of US$26,000. Central to the study will be operations at the Wigton Wind Farm Limited, a PCJ subsidiary in Manchester.
Energy and Mining Minister Hon. James Robertson, and IDB Country Representative in Jamaica, Mr. Gerard Johnson, on Tuesday (January 12), signed agreements for the grant, during the launch at the PCJ Resource Centre Auditorium, Trafalgar Road, Kingston.
Speaking at the function, PCJ Group Managing Director, Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, noted that the programme marked the commencement of one of the entity’s “strategic objectives”. This will bring together industry and academia for a “synergistic relationship in a critical area of national importance”, she explained.
The programme will comprise three main projects: wind resource assessment; assessment and improvement of (the) variable energy power system of Wigton Wind Farm; and a feasibility study of a one megawatt solar facility in Portmore, St. Catherine, to serve some of the energy needs of that community.
“We will see, among other things, the establishment of 20 wind measurement sites, and most of the funds will be allocated to the building of these sites…for us to be able to incubate projects that are so well needed, to expand our renewable energy mandate,” she outlined.
Highlighting the government’s commitment to renewable energy development, Dr. Potopsingh said that the Government is committed to producing 12 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2015.
Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. James Robertson (seated centre), shaking hands with Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Country Representative in Jamaica, Gerard Johnson, after signing an agreement committing US$750,000 from the IDB to the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica’s (PCJ) Wind and Solar Development Programme, during the signing ceremony at the PCJ Resource Centre Auditorium, Trafalgar Road, Kingston on Tuesday (January 12). Looking on are: PCJ Group Managing Director, Dr. Ruth Potopsingh (left, seated); and standing, from left: PCJ Chairman, Katherine Phipps; General Manager of PCJ subsidiary, Wigton Wind Farm Limited, Earl Barrett; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mining, Hillary Alexander; and Wigton Director, George Ho Sang.
“We are working assiduously, in the midst of other priorities, to ensure that Jamaica can make that target,” she assured.
Minister Robertson, in welcoming the project, described the grant as a “new frontier”, pointing out that the studies will enable and position stakeholders to pursue implementation and utilisation of renewable energy. He said that Jamaica is lagging behind, due to lack of studies in terms of how wind energy relates to the electricity grid.
“A lot of people believe that you can just put up a windmill and reap the benefits of renewable energy. That is far from the truth, and we look forward to these studies,” he said.
Mr. Robertson contended that, until energy diversification is effected, Jamaica will not be in a position to take full advantage of renewable energy, which needs to be self-sustainable.
Mr. Johnson noted that the IDB’s US$750,000 grant is the highest allocated for any undertaking in Jamaica. He pointed out that the funds will be transferred to the PCJ in four tranches. He also stated that IDB’s input reflects the Bank’s confidence in the Wigton Wind Farm’s capabilities.
“We have a very rigorous screening process, when we work with an entity that we have never worked with before, especially with a very large grant. It says a lot about the institutional capacity of Wigton,” he said.
He noted that Wigton has the structure and capacity that enables it to manage a grant of the size, which made the IDB comfortable in working with them. He also commended the administration for its Energy Policy, describing it as modern and friendly, creating the right environment to facilitate the initiative.
“It has put extra life into this project, and made its outcome much more likely and useful to Jamaica,” Mr. Johnson said.