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University of the West Indies lecturer wary of solar power

Published:Tuesday | March 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The push to use solar power to energise remote rural communities is taking place despite a warning from a senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Mona, who has suggested that it would be uneconomic for Jamaica.

Dr Abdullahi Abdulkadri, in a paper titled 'Achieving the Renewable Energy Target for Jamaica', said, based on a study on Jamaica's renewable energy target, "a rather surprising finding" emerged.

"Contrary to increasing popularity of solar panels in Jamaica, given current investment climate and costs, solar energy is not recommended as an energy option for electricity generation for the national grid," Abdulkadri said.

not economic

He further said that although Jamaica has abundant solar-energy potential, "based on current costs and already installed fossil-fuel generating capacity, solar power is not an economic investment for the country".

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell has, however, downplayed the findings of the study, saying that while solar is more expensive, the environmental trade-offs compensate for the additional cost.

"We have done, through a project funded by the World Bank, a grid assessment analysis, where we look at the mix of renewables to the grid and we are absolutely confident that it is the right way to go," Paulwell said.

"Everywhere we turn now we are seeing studies that show that the technology for solar is improving and the costs are coming down," the minister added.