Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Solar panel installation at Portmore Heart Academy reaping success

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Portmore Heart Academy with Solar Panels on roof.

The installation of the solar panel at Portmore HEART Academy is reaping success. The pilot project, implemented last July, was facilitated by a bilateral arrangement between the Portmore Municipal Council and Hagen, Germany, as part of a renewable energy development project. During a recent visit by the German delegation to Portmore, the design and implementation of renewable energy systems, such as wind turbines and solar grids, were of interest to the municipality, so these were agreed on as areas to explore.

The solar panel project has enabled the HEART Academy to see savings of $470,000 in electricity consumption for the period July 13, 2014 to January 9, 2015. The institution is seeing a reduction of 2,000 kilowatt hours (kWH) per month, representing a seven per cent reduction in electricity consumption. Given this average monthly yield, the HEART Academy will save an estimated $700,000 from April 2014, when the system was installed, to the current date.

monitoring component

Director of the Academy, Andrew Walters, told Rural Xpress that, before July last year, there was no monitoring component for the system, but one has since been installed and commissioned into service. "This component has allowed the institution to pull real-time data from the system that can provide us with detailed and accurate information of the benefits of the system," Walters said.

He revealed that the HEART Academy has a constant load requirement on the campus which exceeded the solar capacity by far, even on weekends and during holidays. Walters contends that, as a result, it is not expected that the system will be able to export any energy to the national grid.

training component

According to Walters, there is a training component to the project. This will be rolled out in May.

"The course outline has been developed and aligned with the qualification standards for renewable energy established by the National Council on Technical Vocation Education and Training," the HEART Academy director disclosed. He said the renewable energy training course has been contrived to ensure continuity on the part of students, who, after completion, will be awarded with statements of competence so that they can continue to get full qualification, if they so desire.

Meanwhile, Acting Mayor of Portmore Leon Thomas, who toured the facility on Tuesday, told Rural Xpress that the HEART Academy is the ideal place to roll out this pilot project.

"Their energy consumption is very high, and the fact that this is a training institution, we feel that it was the best place to start," the acting mayor stated. He said the hope is that persons will be trained as solar technicians to install these solar systems so that other institutions can benefit from reduced electricity consumption. Thomas praised the Germans for their continued partnership with the Portmore Municipality, pointing out that the climate awareness campaign started by the council came out of that at partnership.

rural@gleanerjm.com