Thu | Jun 27, 2019

Low-income off-grid communities to get solar power

Published:Thursday | May 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Dr Andrew Wheatley

The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) is to undertake an initiative to provide low-income off-grid communities with solar kits.

This was stated by Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley during his contribution to the 2018/19 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

"We will see the pilot project take into consideration 45 households, but the overall project goal is to provide up to 2,000 households in these communities with renewable generated electricity," he said.

Dr Wheatley noted that this project will seek to develop a replicable model for promotion of sustainable energy supplies within communities that have depended mainly on candles, kerosene lamps or charcoal because it is not economically feasible to install conventional pole and line infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the science and energy minister noted that the burning of kerosene and its use in a confined space are harmful to life and health.

He said that medical research shows the burning of kerosene to be especially inimical to the development of the young human brain.

"We must work as a government and as a parliament to ensure there is no repeat of recent tragedies involving the kerosene lamp where houses have been destroyed and the lives of our children lost. Every member of this House will agree with me when I say that our low-income Jamaican families deserve better," Wheatley said.

He argued that the amount of money spent on a kerosene lamp and the fuel to burn it for three months cost more than the price of a solar home lantern.

The minister said that this solar home lantern, which is charged by the sun, is one of the most efficient off-grid lights.

Wheatley highlighted that it was bright enough for reading, working or lighting up a small space and can last for a number of years.

"The PCJ, as one of its good corporate citizen initiatives, is initially distributing just over 5,000 of these solar-powered lanterns, with an allocation being provided to members of parliament whose constituencies have been most affected by domestic fires," he said.