Thursday 22 November, 2018

Jamaica to construct Caribbean region’s largest solar-powered plant

File photo of solar panels.

File photo of solar panels.

Ground was broken on Wednesday at Paradise Park, Westmoreland, for what is being described by developers as the largest solar-powered plant in the Caribbean.

Construction of the US$60 million (J$7.5 billion) plant is scheduled to last 12 months and is slated for completion in December 2018 at which time it will be connected to the national grid.

Some 200 persons will be employed during the construction phase. The plant has a lifespan of 20 years.

Energy Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley, who spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, noted that the developers, Eight Rivers Energy Company – a consortium of Jamaican and international partners – have projected to sell energy to the Jamaica Public Service at  8.53 US cents per kilowatt hour. He said this augurs well for customers.

“We are on the right trajectory to ensure that we not only supply poor people (or) residential customers, but the productive sector as well (with) affordable energy. It is what is going to actually fuel growth. Energy fuels growth and, as a ministry, we have a responsibility to ensure that we provide the energy sector with not only clean energy, but affordable energy,” Wheatley said. He added that the US 8.53 cents per kilowatt hour was the lowest in the region.

The energy minister also noted that with the construction of the solar-powered plant, Jamaica continues lead the way in energy diversification in the region.

“I think we have got accustomed to being the leaders (but) we are not going to be satisfied with being leaders anymore but to be trendsetters,” Wheatley said in his remarks.

Angella Rainford of Rekamniar Frontier Ventures, the Jamaican company that is a part of the consortium, said that as a Jamaican, she was proud to be associated with the project. French and German companies round out the consortium.