The State of Energy Production in Jamaica

by Adrian Watson
(Kingston, Jamaica)

Jamaica Electricity Grid

Jamaica Electricity Grid

Energy is critical for growth and development of all economic, social and environmental parameters of society.

Maturing societies must plan to supply more and efficient energy services with development.

Decisions around energy source, usage, energy mix, dependence and treatment of wastes (emissions) must consider the following:

  • Accessibility (of affordable energy; indigenous vs. imported energy options).
  • Acceptability (of the energy sources used, particularly in environmental, health and safety terms).
  • Availability (how secure and reliable are those sources when needed?).
(World Energy Council 2007)

Too Much Fossil Fuel

Fossil fuel imports accounts for as much as 95% of total primary energy for some small Island developing states. This is Jamaica’s current reality with the other 5 % being renewable.

Renewable Energy options are a critical hedge against times of energy scarcity. The current within the Caribbean is that only 3% of the energy mix is renewable. Endowments are varied and limited. Most SIDs and some LDCs may not harness > 25 – 30% for the national energy mix.

Accessibility of affordable local or imported fuels; acceptability of the options in sensitive and vulnerable ecosystems; and availability when needed for small economies will influence the selection of the best fuel options.

Enough land for Solar?

The daily energy consumption by Jamaicans amounts to about 13700 MegaWatt-hours. Assume daily amount provided by other RE (Wind) is approximately 3200 MegaWatt-hours.

If we are to Assume daily amount provided by solar is 10500 MegaWatt-hours whilst the Average radiation in Jamaica is 0.005 MegaWatt-hour/sq.meter, whilst Assuming efficiency of solar energy device is 20% the average energy produced by solar device would be 0.001 MegaWatt-hour/sq.meter.

This would therefore mean land area required would equal to 10500/0.001 sq meter – 10,500,000 sq meter.

The total land area of Jamaica – 1,100,000,000 sq meters and therefore is the fraction of land needed relative to Jamaica’s size would be 1/1000. In which solar Modules mounted on existing building would be a part of the area count.

Jamaica could also use degraded land to such as landfills to mount renewable Photovoltaic systems. There would be no need to clear lands for this purpose for this purpose.

The State of Biodiesel Production in Jamaica

There are no industrial commercial facilities within Jamaica for the production of Biodiesel on large scale. Biodiesel is also not available for sale at gas stations.

Production is confined to small private interests and enlightened companies. National, Chester Fried Chicken & several home brewers produce biodiesel but total quantity is small.

This is compounded by the fact that there is no policy in place to seriously promote local biodiesel production within Jamaica although there has been research within Jamaica around this topic.

Some research has been done through Petroleum Corporation Jamaica (PCJ) and the University of the West Indies Mona.

PCJ has subsequently established test plots.

Our Request for Proposal 2012

Most proposals were for Solar Modules (Photovoltaic {PV}) and three bidders were selected:
  • Blue Mountain Renewables LLC, (BMR) to supply 34MW of capacity from wind power at Munro, St. Elizabeth
  • Wigton Windfarm Limited (Wigton), to supply 24MW of capacity from wind power at Rose Hill, Manchester
  • WRB Enterprises Inc. (WRB), to supply 20MW of capacity from Solar PV from facilities in Content Village, Clarendon.

The Solution

The solution is to divest the energy systems of Jamaica and come off fossil fuel dependence.

This could be done by putting the energy systems into the hands of the people in the form of co-operatives and social enterprise.

Also, it has pay back of increasing income and reducing environmental degradation of the Jamaica.

Increasing the renewable energy stock is all good and well but privatizing will not completely help the problem.

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