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Guardsman invests in solar company for Caribbean push into renewables market

Published:Friday | October 10, 2014 | 10:00 AM
Co-managing director of Guardsman Group, Vinay Walia. File

Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

Guardsman Group Limited has taken a first step into the field of energy with a 20 per cent stake in solar provider Solease Limited, a subsidiary of Future Energy Corporation (FEC) with main operations in the Middle East and North Africa.

Vinay Walia, co-managing director of Guardsman, said on Wednesday that not only has the security firm engaged the services of Solease - which trades as Future Energy - to retrofit its own establishments in Jamaica, Barbados and St Lucia, but it will partner to offer similar services to fill demand locally, and later the Caribbean.

The price paid for the 20 per cent stake was not disclosed by Walia.

Guardsman Group rolled out its partnership with Future Energy at mid-afternoon Thursday. The Kenny Benjamin-owned Jamaican company's core business is security services, but it also has diversified interests in pest control services, nature park, ornamental fish farming, gymnasium operation and now energy.

Guardsman, meanwhile, is targeting a market for renewables which the co-managing director said is 30 per cent of the local energy market, or one-third of the market supplied by the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited.

Solease is listed by the Companies Office of Jamaica as located at the Citibank building in New Kingston but Walia said it operates from Kings House Road in Kingston.

The company involves a research and development division, project development - inclusive of finance planning - and consulting divisions. It specialises in solar power, noting on its website its proprietary SolRa solar energy technology designed in-house by its R&D division.

SolRa technology is on track to be spun off, and is targeted at achieving price competitiveness with local fossil fuel prices, the company states. Companies Office of Jamaica records name Solease Limited as sole shareholder and the single director as engineer Fahmy Sherif of Cairo in Egypt.

The Jamaican launch of Future Energy will be followed by Barbados and St Lucia at a date to be fixed, said Walia.

Future Energy's first project Jamaican project has been completed at the Guardsman Group head office at 107 Old Hope Road, and is to be followed by Guardsman Armoured offices at South Camp Road, and the Guardsman Limited offices at Emmaville Crescent - all in Kingston.

US$1.5 million investment

The Guardsman retrofittings is a US$1.5-million investment, which the company expects to recover in energy savings within four and a half years, said Walia.

Replacement of capacity, he said, varied between 35 to 50 per cent of energy requirements, depending on the roof size of the particular property.

The installations do not have batteries and rely on solar energy in daylight hours only. All properties will remain connected to the national electricity grid.

Walia said that several other projects had been completed, with other proposals awaiting contract, and that Future Energy intends to compete around price and quality. The company was registered in October 2013 and is run by Managing Director Kwame Hall.

Established in 1977, Guardsman Group, which began by offering trained guard dogs and then armed and unarmed guards for corporate and residential clients, comprises 13 companies which operate in Jamaica, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Lucia and Barbados.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com