Jamaica targets IRP progress, aims to procure 320MW of renewables this year

By Charlie Duffield
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The 51MWp Paradise Park solar farm, developed in Jamaica by Neoen. Image: Neoen

The Caribbean’s leader in renewable energy, Jamaica, is looking to procure 320MW of renewables this year as part of plans to diversify its energy sector.

Jamaica’s government is working towards an ambitious Integrated Resource Plan which has established how the island intends to procure power over the next 20 years. The initiative has set a goal of adding 1.6GW of additional capacity to facilitate reduced energy prices and decrease vulnerability of the energy sector to external shocks such as oil prices.

Of that figure, 1.26GW has been allocated for wind and solar, 320MW of which is due to be procured this year as Jamaica makes its first steps towards procurement.

Given the “serious interest” in the country’s energy sector, there should be no problems in meeting this target, according to government agency Jampro.

Diane Edwards, president of Jampro, said: “While there was a feeling of uncertainty, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, we knew that we had to continue to nurture our relationships and the renewable energy opportunity in Jamaica, and increase our marketing activities.

“Covid-19 re-emphasised the fact that sectors like logistics, energy, and agriculture must be major priorities, so the Jamaican government really used this time to identify the areas that needed even more focus as we continue Jamaica’s development.”

Sector development initiatives have continued, and Jampro has partnered with entities like New Energy Events and UK trade body The Association for Renewable Energy & Clean Technology (REA) to continue its global promotion of the energy industry.

The country intends to have 33% of electricity generation from renewables by 2030, building on an existing line of renewable energy projects on the island which includes the 20MW Content Solar project, owned by WRB Energy Company in Clarendon, and the 51MWp Paradise Park solar farm in Westmoreland, which is the largest photovoltaic power plant in Jamaica.

Regarding these projects, Don Gittens, Jampro’s manager of logistics, energy, and infrastructure, said: “Current renewable energy projects represent approximately 14% of energy generation in Jamaica, but our target is 50%. There is therefore a significant opportunity because we have that gap between 14% and 50% that we intend to fill with additional renewable energy investments.”

Jamaica has also begun work on the development of an electronic vehicle charging network, confirming the country’s commitment to alternative energy sources.

Gittens said: “This is a very exciting time within the local and global energy sector as everything is moving towards renewable energy. Once the RFPs are ready, we are confident there will be a lot of investment coming through.”

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