Numerous investments in renewable energy are paving the way for Jamaica to lessen its dependency on oil. The goal is to achieve 30 percent of energy consumption from renewables by 2030. Up to mid-2016, Jamaica was extracting more than 13.5 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Since then, the renewable energy market has diversified with another non-oil entity supplying to the main grid.
With an investment of more than $60 million WRB Energy Company officially opened a 20-megawatt solar energy electricity generation plant in Content, Clarendon, in June. The Florida-based WRB SERRA and Overseas Private Investment Corporation – OPIC – are the operators Content Energy Plant. Some 91,000 solar panels covering almost 160 acres are installed at the plant in Clarendon. Eight Rivers Energy Company is to supply up to 37 megawatt of electricity from a solar photovoltaic plant located in Westmoreland. This is to come on stream December 2018. During the next two years, The Government is anticipating more than $38 billion in investments from additional alternative energy projects.
These latest investments, complement the more than 80 megawatts of generating capacity from renewable sources which were commissioned in 2016. This consist of, a 24 megawatt wind energy commissioned in June 2016 with the implementation of Wigton III by Wigton Wind Farm Limited and a 36.6 megawatt of wind power commissioned in August 2016 by Blue Mountain Renewables Limited. Some US$200 million were invested in renewable energy initiatives during 2016. Investment in renewable energy sources may come from hydro, solar, wind, waste and, more recently castor oil plant.
In addition to investments, supportive legislative and policy framework are being implemented. Jamaica is now a signatory to the Agreement establishing the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, CCREEE. As Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, signed the agreement in early July during his attendance at the 38th Regular meeting of the Heads of Government of CARICOM, that was held in Grenada. The CCREEE is designed to address the implementation deficit in CARICOM’s sustainable energy sector and to support or coordinate the execution of the regional renewable energy and energy efficient projects.
With the introduction of renewable energy solutions, Jamaicans can expect to see micro-economic decisions manifest in the macro-economy. With continued investments and institutional strengthening of the renewable energy sector, through both private and public sectors, Jamaica will not only boast a diversified energy landscape but in general the country will be on a path to economic wealth.