Fri | Dec 6, 2019

Earth Today | ‘100% renewables, a noble goal’

Published:Thursday | November 14, 2019 | 12:24 AM
Jones
CHEN
Solar energy is among the renewable options advanced by Professor Anthony Chen as needing to form a part of Jamaica’s energy mix by 2055.
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DEVELOPMENT Professional Eleanor Jones has put her stamp of approval on the recent proposal for Jamaica to press for 100 per cent renewables by 2055, while cautioning that it will take a lot more than words to make it happen.

“It is a noble objective, and it is one that is important because climate change is not a joke. It is right here with us, and we know that mitigation is important,” she said.

“But we can’t simply decide we are going to do that. We have to work out how we are going to get the energy and how we tie it into some of our current supplies in terms of distribution and production,” Jones added.

The proposal, meanwhile, came from local physicist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Anthony Chen, who has argued that it is now not only technically feasible, but also financial viable for Jamaica to pursue this – in line with the need for scaled-up mitigation actions globally, to prevent an overshoot of 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming.

Warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius could spell death for islands such as Jamaica that are especially vulnerable to climate-change impacts, including sea level rise and extreme weather events, and the associated risks to water and food security as well as significantly compromised public health.

“While we say it is something that is desirable, we have to think about how we get there. And while we talk about renewables, are we talking solar, wind, hydro? I have issues with respect to hydro because rainfall variability is going to be an issue for us. So we have to look at the appropriate mix, and we have to set targets and then put in the strategic steps that need to be taken,” Jones emphasised.

IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING

“It is not going to happen by talking; that is for sure,” she added.

Chen was of the same mind on the importance of planning.

“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,” he said.

“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 that is already impacting people’s lives and livelihoods.

Meanwhile, Jones said there is no question of the role that the private sector will have to play in the effort.

“They have a major role to play because our producers generate emissions. Many of them are already looking at energy efficiency. A lot of them are converting to renewables, where possible, and looking at measures to reduce their consumption,” she said.

“So I think the sensitivity is there. I would not say that it is being done for climate resilience but, rather, because of the bottom line, and that is good because, at the end of the day, we know that good environmental practice redounds to the bottom line. So you save the environment and you save money, which is the message many of us have been preaching for some time now,” Jones added.

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