Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Power company wants to introduce sea water A/C system to Jamaica

Published:Friday | January 13, 2017 | 1:40 PM
A flock of seagulls take off from a boat on the Kingston waterfront.
Dr Warren Smith, President of the Caribbean Development Bank
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Jamaican power and conservation solutions company, New Leaf Power said it is desirous of introducing sea water air conditioning technology (SWAC) to Jamaica following a 12-member public and private sector study tour of two alternative energy systems in Canada.

This is against the background that in the Caribbean, according to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), air conditioning accounts, on average, for 50 per cent of total energy consumption in commercial buildings, while sea water technology is estimated to reduce electricity consumption for air conditioning by up to 90 per cent.

In a release, the Bank said that at the end of 2016 it collaborated with New Leaf Power to host the tour and that stakeholders in Jamaica now have a better understanding of how the technology can help reduce electricity costs.

Managing Director of New Leaf Power, Robert Wright said the study tour was another important step towards introducing the technology in the Caribbean.

“New Leaf Power, in cooperation with other partners, wishes to introduce this technology to Jamaica and I believe that by exposing stakeholders to operational SWAC systems … in Canada, trust in the maturity of the technology has increased,” the release quoted Wright as saying.

CDB explained that in the Caribbean, a SWAC system might draw cold seawater from a depth lower than 800 metres to a cooling station.

The chilled water is then used to absorb heat from buildings and then returned to the ocean, usually at a shallower depth. Several buildings can be connected to the chilled fresh water loop, a process which replaces conventional air conditioning.

Environmental Specialist at the CDB, Hopeton Peterson, who participated in the trip, said “the study tour gave us a better understanding of the construction risk to the marine environment and the means for assessment and mitigation.” 

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Specialist at CDB, Peter Werner, who also accompanied the group, said that “although the principle of SWAC seems simple, a very detailed design process and commercial assessment are needed before such a system can be realised.”

At CDB, he said, “we expect to see more work being undertaken to assess the technical and financial feasibility for specific applications, where the conditions are right. Where feasible, this technology could contribute to the wider energy security objective to which CDB is committed.”

The CDB release said that during the trip, the group observed and learnt about the operations of two alternative energy and eco-friendly air conditioning systems – the Toronto Deep Lake Water Cooling District and Emera Inc. cooling system in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Stakeholders from public sector organisations, including environmental agencies, collected information about the potential and challenges of the technology.

Participants from private sector companies learned more about the system’s reliability of supply and the financial advantage of having a centralised district cooling network.

The study tour was financed by CDB from the Canadian Support to the Energy Sector in the Caribbean Fund and the Canadian High Commission in Kingston.

Jamaica Promotions Corporation offices in Kingston and Toronto provided logistical support.

The visit will be followed by a regional workshop on SWAC during the first quarter of 2017.