Jamaican factory economizes with solar PV and efficiency

Jamaican seafood trader Rainforest is doubling solar energy capacity at its plant in Montego Bay, from 0.5 megawatt to one megawatt, at a cost of $75 million. Following this project, solar PV panels will cover all of Rainforest’s primary operating and administrative buildings. The first project cost approximately $1.65/watt, but is now less than $1.00. “It’s becoming far more attractive to go solar,” said Rainforest CEO Brian Jardim.

Altogether, the three phases represent a US$2-million investment, Jardim said, funding for which was secured through the window for renewable energy loans set up by the Development Bank of Jamaica, DBJ, but issued through lending institutions. “The window provided by the DBJ means very good rates. It actually comes through the commercial banks at an interest rate of six or seven per cent. That makes good financial sense, if you ask me,” Jardim said, who noted that at each stage of the project, the payback period on the investment has shortened from six years in the first project to now four years.

The company has also implemented other conservation methods to add to those savings, including more efficient compressors, and switching from freon gas to ammonia for cooling, and utilising LED lighting for the freezers and perimeters of the Rainforest complex.