Jamaica reduces carbon footprint, touts savings from green strategy
The country saved around US$18 million (J$2.3 billion) in oil imports based on the 80 megawatts of renewable energy projects implemented last year, based on estimates utilising Government data.
Concurrently, the addition of the 80MW of renewable energy saved 800,000 metric tonnes in toxic carbon emissions, according to the energy ministry.
These factors allowed Jamaica to breathe cleaner air and climb in the Global Energy Architecture Performance Index (EAPI). It's unknown whether these emission savings were converted into carbon credits.
Jamaica improved six spots to 92 worldwide to become a global case study for energy diversification, according to the annual EAPI study produced by the World Economic Forum.
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.
In Jamaica last year, Wigton Wind Farm III added 24MW of renewable capacity, BMR Windfarm added 36.3MW, and WRB Content Solar, 20MW.
"[It resulted] in a cut in CO2 emissions of at least 800,000 metric tonnes between 2014 and 2016," stated the energy ministry in response to Financial Gleaner queries.
"The 80.30MW of renewable energy added to the grid represents a reduction of 413,781 barrels of oil imported per year," the ministry said via email.
Another 100MW of capacity is expected to be developed by energy investors this year, for which the bidding process is under way, it added.
Jamaica is pressing ahead with its renewable programme even as oil prices remain subdued.
The price of oil averaged US$43.33 for WTI crude and US$43.74 for Brent crude in 2016, according to the US-based Energy Information Administration statistics.
The ministry credited Jamaica's energy successes to the aggressive implementation of the National Energy Policy - NEP 2009-2030. In ensuring that Jamaica's energy infrastructure is as efficient, safe and competitive as possible, the NEP has within its plan of action the formulation of a new Electricity Act which provides for and promotes renewables in the energy sector, added the ministry.
The amended electricity law, in effect since 2015, was also a deliverable of the Energy Security Efficiency and Enhancement Project. That programme also oversaw the delivery of the natural gas policy and regulations, and the smart grid road map.
Jamaica appears set to surpass its initial target of 20 per cent renewables by 2030 under the restructuring of its energy mix away from crude. The ministry said the goal has already been reset higher to 30 per cent renewables by 2030.
"All things remaining equal, Jamaica will surpass the '20 in 30' target and we are now aiming for '30 in 30'," the ministry said.
The energy efficiency programme has so far saved the government $131.5 million, which translates to a 2,768-metric tonne reduction in carbon emissions.