50% renewable energy by 2030 - Young businessman pushing for more clean sources
While the national target for renewable energy is 20 per cent of total consumption by 2030, young entrepreneur Rajiv Lurch is more ambitious and wants to help Jamaica reach 50 per cent by 2030, which is, incidentally, the timeline for making Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business.
Considering that Jamaica's alternative energy usage is now about six per cent, to get to Lurch's target of 50 per cent will be a tall order, but so, too, was conceptualising the plan for an energy solution company when he was just 26 years old.
The company is now transforming the way thousands of Jamaicans live.
As the founder of Enersave Solutions, the now 31-year-old businessman provides solar-energy solutions as well as renewable efficiency and water-conservation gadgets to a wide cross section of Jamaicans. His business is the outcome of a vision he had while he was an engineering student at the University of Technology.
"I realised there is a need for efficiency and it opened my eyes in terms of what First-World countries are doing in terms of research and development in finding more efficient solutions for energy and water usage," Lurch told The Sunday Gleaner.
"We don't have to depend so much on fossil-based fuel. There is an abundance of sunshine and these are the things that we should be capitalising on, because as you know, the economy is linked to energy."
FOCUS ON RENEWABLES
There is a global focus on renewables and clean energy solutions, and Jamaica has been consistently ranked as one of the places in the region where the possibilities are endless.
This was again highlighted during a United States-Caribbean-Central American Energy Summit last month which saw regional leaders being hosted by US vice-president Joe Biden to discuss alternative energy. Clean energy was also one of the main focuses of US President Barack Obama when he visited the island last year.
During the last energy summit, Prime Minister Andrew Holness promised that more emphasis would be placed on renewables to help reduce the country's exposure to the volatility of oil prices.
Energy Minister Andrew Wheatley, who also attended the summit, was more specific as he announced that his ministry is focused on increasing renewables to approximately 30 per cent of Jamaica's total energy mix by 2030, which is 10 per cent more than what was outlined in the National Energy Policy.
But Lurch wants the Government to push the envelope even further.
"I would say aim for 50 per cent. Aim for higher because, ultimately, it will benefit everybody. It will reduce our dependence on oil. It is environmentally friendly. It is also an insurance against the increase in energy cost that is associated with fossil-based fuel," he said.
He argued that Jamaicans will need to be better educated about the benefits of renewables, and there will also need to be more incentives to encourage citizens to invest in solar energy.
"Solar or renewables, they generally pay for themselves within three years and the expected life is 20 to 25 years. So, looking at that, it will benefit the country greatly if the Government could somehow incentivise people to make the investment, because a lot of banks provide low-interest loans to finance solar or renewable projects, but I don't think many people are aware," he said.
Fortunately, just enough people are being inspired to make the change, and this has been good for his business.
"Our vision is to basically make this country a green sustainable one because, in turn, it will benefit the economy greatly, so it's a part of our vision to offer solutions to everybody."