Jamaica - Government seeks more private sector involvement in renewable energy for the New Year

Proportion of renewable energy for electricity generation to be increased from 5% to 15% at a cost of $200 million by 2015

Wigton Windfarm in Manchester/Jamaica is to be privatised in the New Year as part of Government plans to increase the use of renewable energy and reduce the national oil import bill which this year passed the US$1.5 billion (J$100 billion) mark for the first time.

Ruth Potopsingh, group managing director of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) - the state agency that owns Wigton, said that since it opened in 2004 there has been interest from several potential buyers, both local and international. The sale is to be publicly advertised.

"It's the policy of PCJ to build and develop projects and then to turn them over to the private sector," Mrs. Potopsingh said. The Government's plan to increase the proportion of renewable energy for electricity generation, from five per cent to 15 per cent by 2015, will cost approximately US$200 million (about J$1.4 billion).
According to Dr. Cezley Sampson, energy adviser to the Prime Minister, this necessitates private sector investment. Parties interested in buying the wind farm will have to continue with PCJ's plans to double the generating capacity of Wigton from 20.7 to 41.4 megawatts, Phillip Paulwell, the government minister with responsibility for energy, said. "Sale to any buyer must be on condition that they are prepared to go ahead with the expansion," Mr. Paulwell said.

Under a power purchase agreement with the Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd. (JPS), Wigton currently supplies the national grid with electricity generated by its 23 wind turbines at an average output of seven megawatts. Wigton is the first commercial wind farm in the Caribbean and the second project in the Caribbean to qualify for carbon credits under the United Nations Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Wigton will earn US$3.1 million (J$205 million) over nine years from selling carbon credits to the Dutch government.

Delays - However, Mrs. Potopsingh's predecessor, Dr. Raymond Wright, has said that when approved, the Wigton expansion would likely be delayed by world over-demand for wind turbines which has been partly caused by incentives for renewable energy offered by governments in the developed world, especially Europe. PCJ is currently sourcing funds to construct a 1.2 megawatt hydro power plant at Laughlands, Great River, in St. Ann. It has identified three other potential sites island-wide: Rams Horn and Constant Spring in St. Andrew, and Rio Cobre in St. Catherine.

In the meantime, according to Mr. Paulwell, the results of Petrojam's current trial of E10, which would replace MTBE with ethanol as 10 per cent of the gasolene mixtures in the island, are to be brought to Cabinet in January. He said an islandwide switch to the fuel made from sugar cane is expected later in 2007. The Energy Minister said a new trial, using fuel with 15 per cent ethanol, would also begin next year. "This is good for the environment, it is good in terms of foreign exchange savings that would otherwise be spent on imports and it would also enable the local sugar industry to have a role in the product," he said. PCJ will also continue discussions in the New Year with several local entities interested in partnering with foreign manufacturers of photovoltaic (solar energy) equipment, to establish a factory in Jamaica.
www.winfair.net, Online editorial
Edited by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
wind energy, renewable energy, wind turbine, wind power, wind farm, rotorblade, onshore, offshore

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