Gov’t Executing Next Tranche of Renewable Energy Projects

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Daryl Vaz


Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Hon. Daryl Vaz, says the Government is focused on executing the next tranche of renewable energy projects that will move Jamaica closer to achieving the 30 per cent target for electricity generation from alternative sources by 2030, and 50 per cent by 2037.


Speaking during Friday’s (November 20) virtual opening ceremony for Jamaica Energy Week 2020, Mr. Vaz said significant progress has been made in this regard over the last 10 years, since the National Energy Policy’s implementation.


Noting that petroleum fuelled 95 per cent of Jamaica’s power generation in 2008, with wind and hydro accounting for 2.4 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively, the Minister pointed out that natural gas has since been introduced into the mix and “we have pioneered several renewable energy projects, primarily wind and solar technologies.”


Among these, he said, are: the 62.7 megawatt Wigton Wind Farm plant in Manchester; the 37 megawatt Eight Rivers solar facility in Westmoreland; the 37 BMR wind facility in St. Elizabeth; and the 20 megawatt solar plant in Clarendon.


Additionally, the Minister said that more than 800 Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) customers are licensed to generate electricity, using renewable sources for personal use, and selling the excess to the JPS under the net billing programme.


Mr. Vaz projected that by 2025 “we will be generating approximately 22 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources and we will be well on our way to developing an electric mobility subsector.”


“As Energy Minister, I can truly say that I am proud of our accomplishments in energy. We have exceeded the expectations in many areas and I’m pleased to say that after just over a decade of the National Energy Policy being implemented, Jamaica is often singled out as a beacon in the region for the progress made,” he said.


He noted that the anticipated outcomes of the policy are a reduction in Jamaica’s vulnerability to the external economic shocks, reduced energy prices, 100 per cent electricity access by individuals and entities, and a reduction in the country’s carbon footprint.


Mr. Vaz said that the Government’s plans for energy diversification and expansion are consistent with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, which seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for the world’s population.


He cited data from the SDG Energy Progress Report, published jointly by the World Bank, International Renewable Energy Agency, International Energy Agency, World Health Organization, and the UN Statistics Division, which showed that considerable efforts have been made to expand access to electricity and deploy renewables in power generation.


Additionally, he said the report states that the number of people living without electricity fell from 1.2 billion in 2010 to 840 million in 2017, with renewable sources accounting for 17.5 per cent of total global energy consumption in 2016.


“I believe that we all have a role to play in ensuring that there is universal access to reliable energy services, increasing the share of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency and conservation,” Mr. Vaz noted.


He said that the Government remains “on a mission to secure Jamaica’s energy future through diversification and the provision of alternative sustainable and environmentally-friendly sources of energy”.


“We could not have transformed our energy landscape without the hardworking stakeholders, both locally and internationally, who have invested in the sector and partnered with the Ministry and Government to ensure that Jamaica is a regional leader in energy,” Mr. Vaz added.


This year’s fifth staging of Jamaica Energy Week is being held from November 20 to 26 under the theme: ‘Fuelling New Growth Paths’.


Its observance forms part of a wider slate of activities across CARICOM and Latin America marking November as Energy Month, during which member countries’ energy developments will be showcased.


Consequent on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Jamaica’s engagements, which will include stakeholder discussions and exhibitions, will be facilitated virtually. 


Mr. Vaz said Energy Week and Month present the opportunity to promote energy projects and outline the Government’s policy direction for the sector.


In this regard, he encouraged wide-scale stakeholder and public participation in the events.