Fri | Dec 2, 2016

Wind energy cheapest on the market - Wigton

Published:Wednesday | October 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM
File Earl Barrett, general manager of Wigton Windfarm Limited.

Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

Earl Barrett, general manager of Wigton Windfarm Limited, says wind is the cheapest source of power available, locally, and the company's new farm will supply capacity to the grid at less than US13.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

Wigton Windfarm is investing US$46 million in its third wind facility in Southern Manchester, which will generate another 24 MW of power destined for the national grid. Its other two farms already provide 38.7 MW of power.

The project will be financed through Wigton's own equity resources and a loan from the PetroCaribe Development Fund, said Barrett.

The plant is projected to be built and commissioned by the fourth quarter of 2015. The new wind capacity is said to be sufficient to power 31,963 homes, based on average household usage of 1,971 kWh per year.

Barrett told the Financial Gleaner that Wigton I supplies power at a base rate of US10.21 cents/kWh, and Wigton II at US 10.729 cents/kWh. Wigton III's rate is US 13.4 cents.

Comparatively, WRB Enterprises said its Content Solar farm, to be developed in St Catherine, will sell supplies to Jamaica Public Service Company at US 18.8 cents.

Explaining the differential between the current Wigton prices and that for Wigton III, parent company Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) said Wigton I and II were implemented without any competitive bid, "hence the OUR awarded the avoided cost plus the 15 per cent incentive as per the National Energy Policy", while Wigton III had to compete with other companies for a licence under the 115MW Renewable Project.

"The OUR used the World Bank study of acceptable rates for renewables in Jamaica as the cap for which bids would be accepted for evaluation. The cap in the study for Wind Energy is 13.4C//KWh," the agency said.

The total installation investment cost for Wigton I, developed in 2004, and Wigton II, which was commissioned in 2010, was US$74.2 million. The company said it has earned US$69.7 million from electricity sales to JPS between April 2004 and August 2014.

"Renewable energy tends to be supplied at a cheaper rate in the Jamaican grid than fossil fuel-generated electricity. For example, all the wind projects will be supplied at less than US13.5 cents/kWh while the fuel costs as paid to persons in the net-billing programme are approximately US 23 cents/kWh, so the renewable generation costs are lower than even fuel alone, using traditional fossil fuel generation," said Barrett.

"Creating a larger critical mass of renewable energy will show the reduction more significantly, hence the Government's target, as outlined in the National Energy Policy, to increase the renewable-energy penetration to 20 per cent of the energy mix with a longer-term goal of 30 per cent," he said.

Wigton's new 24 MW farm is slated for a site approximately one kilometre east of the existing Wigton complex. The project will install 12 Gamesa G80 2MW-rated wind turbines and 9 km of new 69 kV transmission lines.

Wigton calculates savings to the country from its new wind farm at an annual US$3.71 million from avoided imports of 37,101 barrels of oil per year.

The company expects to employ 125 during the construction phase.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com