Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Jamaica’s energy diversification gains world attention

Published:Wednesday | March 29, 2017 | 3:00 AMSteven Jackson

Jamaica improved six spots to 92 worldwide to become a global case study for energy diversification, according to the annual study produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Trading partner and oil-producer Trinidad & Tobago inched up one spot to 109 from 110 a year earlier.

The Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2017 indicated that Jamaica, Mexico and Uruguay, all developing countries, made strides in their energy sector performance since 2009.

The top-performing nations are all European Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and France.

The report indicated that the three developing nations took a similar approach to energy policy as the top developed nations. These include a long-term approach to the development of the energy sector; crafting a vision that spans various political administrations, yet flexible enough adapt to changes in technology and new realities; and private sector financing to implement policy through investment.

 

Long-term vision

 

"Jamaica's long-term vision and expressed commitment are complemented by many opportunities for private-sector companies to invest in its energy sector, including a deregulated generation environment, a liberalised fuel sector and opportunities for commercial hydrocarbon exploration," stated the report.

"Within Jamaica's liberalised generation market, the Government has issued requests for proposals for energy plants to add capacity to the national grid, specifying the range of renewable technologies that could be used."

Last year, Jamaica added 80 megawatts of renewables to the national electricity grid and remains tentatively on the path to raise renewables to 30 per cent of the grid by 2030. The country remains heavily dependent on imported oil for its energy needs, with over 90 per cent of its electricity sourced from fossil fuels.

The annual energy report assesses countries using three pillars termed the 'energy triangle' economic growth; environmental sustainability; and energy security and access. The three pillars further split into 18 indicators.

Nations are ranked based on their tally in an Energy Architecture Performance Index developed by WEF in collaboration with Accenture, and which factors the energy triangle.

Jamaica scored 0.54 on the index, while Switzerland scored 0.80.

In previous reports, project advisers had assessed Jamaica's energy as vulnerable and costly due to its heavy reliance on imported energy. Jamaica continued to seek ways to slash its electricity costs even as oil prices plummeted from US$100 per barrel in July 2014 to around US$50 currently.

The push involves liquefied natural gas and renewables as fuel sources to reduce the country's reliance on imported crude. The first LNG-fired plant was commissioned into service last November.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com