Jamaica has committed to generating half of its energy from renewables by 2037 with an overall target of 1664MW. The Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology (MSET) recently announced the completion of the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and indicated that the country is ready to move on investment plans of 320 MW of wind and solar, 120 MW of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and 74 MW of hydro, waste to energy (WTE), and/or biomass. Developers and investors now eagerly await word of the RFP process.
Is Jamaica ready? Michel Gantois, the new CEO of Jamaica Public Service Co. (JPS) and the Jamaican Minister of Energy, Hon. Fayval Williams took to the stage for a recent webinar hosted by New Energy Events and JAMPRO, to frame the national roadmap, explore the impact of Covid-19, and assess the viability of various approaches and technologies.
With over 350 participants in attendance, Gantois talked in ambitious terms of his vision for Jamaica’s grid, citing virtual power plants, and other cutting edge approaches, as options on the table to be considered. “I think that decentralized electricity in different shapes and forms will be and should be part of the conversation. Whether it will be a large volume of electricity over time, whether it will be easy to integrate with the rest of the mix of electricity, that is still the question mark.” What is clear, though, is that it’s out with the old utility business model, and in with the new. “We are not peddlers of volumes or megawatt hours,” Gantois asserted, “I think those times have changed…we are not trying to force volumes anymore and the reason is because the world is changing and we are big proponents, of course, of measures to consume energy more efficiently to help consumers.”
On the national roadmap, Hon. Williams was categorical that COVID-19 does not impact Jamaica’s roadmap to 100% renewables by 2037: “In terms of the impact on the outlook we have for the energy sector, right now, where we stand, we are sticking by plans we have in the Integrated Resource Plan in terms of the energy needs because it is long-term.”
Although the commitment to the IRP is firm, there is flexibility in terms of planning and approach. “While the IRP is a 20-year plan, we will allow ourselves to look at it every two years to see what changes we need to make in terms of our outlook for demand, as well in the sector, and to look at the ongoing aging of the base. We recognize it is a dynamic situation that we have in the energy sector. We are managing it with an eye towards the future, anticipating that at some point in time we will emerge from all of this but for right now the (IRP) plans we have announced are the ones we are going forward with.”
Diane Edwards, President, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) acknowledged the impact COVID-19 was having but believes the outlook is positive: “There is huge investor interest in this area [renewable energy]. We have literally been inundated with companies looking at solar and wind to a lesser extent and particularly waste-to-energy”
The webinar was moderated by Don Gittens, Manager – Logistics, Energy and Infrastructure, Jamaica Promotions Corporation.
Full webinar recording available here.