Avia Collinder, Business Reporter
German Ambassador Josef Beck says Jamaica is underestimating the economic potential of renewable energy initiatives, saying his own country, has already seen major gains in employment and competitive advantages flowing to its business sector.
Relative to base year 1990, Germany's Energiewende or energy turnaround initiative aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increments starting at 40 per cent by 2020 up to 80-95 per cent by 2050.
"Although we will need to increase efforts to reach our target for 2020, Germany is already well on the way. The measures adopted so far will allow Germany to cut its emissions by 36 per cent by 2020," said Beck at a forum in Kingston where insurance to manage weather-related and other risks were discussed.
In further information to Wednesday Business, Ambassador Beck said investment in renewable energy has led to sector-related employment in manufacturing, maintenance, administration and research tripling to 378,000 between 2004 and 2012.
"Germany has a 15 per cent share of the rapidly growing global market for green technologies. This shows that economic prosperity and a green economy and responsible climate policy are not mutually exclusive," he said.
Jamaica has invited private investors to supply up to 115 MW of renewable power or around 15 per cent of capacity to the national grid, and is reviewing three preferred bids for 78 MW. Bid bonds were posted for the projects last week. The other 37 MW will be retendered in early 2014.
Ambassador Beck says what Jamaica can learn from the best practices in Germany is that a mix of solutions is what works best.
"Jamaica has perfect preconditions with sun, wind and biomass," he said.
"Improving energy efficiency and energy savings will bring on all players in a concerted action. The huge potential is always underestimated for example in the building sector."
Germany aims to phase out the use of nuclear power by 2022. Last year, renewables became the second most important energy source, second only to lignite and overtaking nuclear power, also triggering investments totalling around euro20 billion, according to Peter Altmaier, Germany's Federal Environment Minister, in an address published on the ministry's website on September 17.
Measures include emissions trading, regulations, support programmes and targeted consultancy and information. The country is also encouraging and spending on the modernisation of buildings.
Germany also put legislation in place, the Renewable Energy Sources Act, which is said to have lowered the cost of energy technology -- photovoltaics in particular. The pricing of solar power has now fallen to between euro0.11 to euro0.16 or around US$0.15 to US$0.22 at current conversation rates.
Germany also predicts net employment of 140,000 by 2030. Additional employment is expected from the environmental sector with a projected increase from currently 1.4 million to 2.4 million jobs by 2025.
Beck said Energiewende is the most ambitious and challenging approach among the major economies.
"Our international partners are watching whether Germany can manage the energy turnaround while keeping our competitiveness and remain successful on the world markets," he said.
The ambassador said four Jamaicans visited Germany on a study tour in September: Professor Ruth Potopsingh from the University of Technology; Roger Chang of the Jamaica Solar Energy Association; Dr Alwin Hales, director general of the Ministry of Water Land Environment and Climate Change; and Dr Peter Ruddock, manager of renewable energy and energy efficiency at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica.