Planning vital to achieving energy target
WHILE TECHNICALLY and economically feasible, Professor Anthony Chen has said that his recommendation for Jamaica to travel the road to 100 per cent renewables by 2055 is one that must be paved with planning.
“It will not just happen. We will have to plan for it. And we have to start planning and implementing from now, including scaling up research and development activities in Jamaica, by Jamaicans, and with less reliance on external sources for these critical tasks,” he said.
Chen was speaking at the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean third academic research conference, held recently in Kingston.
That planning, he said, requires, among other things, knowing whether there are enough suitable sites for renewable energy – and reserving them.
“Planning requires that we know the behaviour of renewable energy resources. Planning requires that we be able to predict solar and wind hours before and seasons before so that we can more efficiently manage the distribution of energy,” Chen maintained.
“Planning requires that we develop expertise in battery operations. Planning requires employing smart grids and the ability to programme them. Planning requires training,” he added.
As for implementation, he said that means “getting results and not just having policies”.
The failure to do so, Chen said, could have far-reaching negative implications for the country in the face of ballooning greenhouse gas emissions, which fuel climate change, which is already impacting people’s lives and livelihoods.
“We have known for at least three decades what has to be done, namely getting rid of greenhouse gases, but not until now are we giving serious thought to it, and still yet, we are not doing enough,” he said.
“Democratic candidates for the 2020 US presidential elections now have serious plans for going green. In the 2016 US election, climate change was hardly mentioned. Have we seen a similar transition – going really green – in Jamaica? We [recently] had a global strike by schoolchildren calling for a complete halt of fossil fuel. Did Jamaica participate?” he queried.
Still, Chen insisted, that Jamaica must pursue 100 per cent renewables.
“We do it for the sake of our global competitiveness and energy security. We do it to combat climate change so that we and our children can have a tolerable environment, and for our grandchildren and their children to have a safe environment. We and the rest of the world need to do it in order to save the planet,” he said.
“Urgent action is now required to make up for lost time. Government promised to make us more prosperous and safer. They can do this by giving us a fossil-free environment that will make us safer and give us cleaner and cheaper energy that will lead to prosperity and new jobs,” Chen added.
He was, however, quick to add that the government cannot do it alone.
“They need a consortium of research interests, including universities; government, and other sectors, such as energy, finance, economic, education, the environment, etc.” he said.