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Solar company asks banks to finance renewables

Published:Wednesday | April 16, 2014 | 4:00 AM
Spanish Ambassador Celsa Nuño (left) is seen with David Pijuan Mota, business development manager of Spanish-owned solar company Sofos Jamaica, at a PSOJ/Embassy of Spain/Sofos seminar on solar energy at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Tuesday, April 15. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer

David Pijuan Mota, business development manager for solar engineering company Sofos Jamaica Limited, is encouraging local banks to get into the financing of solar installations, stating that the financial institutions could be earning income currently flowing to local utilities.

Jamaica spends more than US$2 billion on fossil fuel energy annually, an amount Mota said could be entering the coffers of local banks instead.

Speaking at a Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ)-sponsored forum on solar energy on Tuesday, Mota said that solar remains a very new market in Jamaica with high demand.

The only roadblock, he said, is financing

"The banks need to think renewables. If it does not go to the bank, it will go to the utilities. The banks need to make an effort to get into the market. It's profitable for them and profitable for Jamaican companies," he said.

First project in Jamaica

Sofos Jamaica, a subsidiary of Sofos Energy in Barcelona, Spain, is wrapping up its first project in Jamaica - a solar PV system for Palladium resorts in Hanover, that consists of installations providing 1575kW of power. Installations numbering 6,336 units and including 67 invertors have been placed at the resort's villas and spas.

According to Mota, the hotels will save 2.28 millionkWp (peak power) annually, which will result in cash savings of US$730,496 each year.

The installation cost Palladium US$3.5 million, which Sofos states will see returns in four and a half years.

Sofos registered its Jamaican subsidiary in April 2013 and its offices are hosted at The Business District at 22B Old Hope Road.

CEO of the Spanish group, Juan Mayoral, said at the PSOJ event that he had relocated his family from Spain to Miami as the company was focusing on expansion in the Caribbean and Central America.

Sofos established a presence in the Dominican Republic in 2010 and has since done 25 projects, including Palladium, in Jamaica.

Other Sofos offices have been set up in Puerto Rico and Miami. The company is now eyeing Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and other countries in Central America for investment and expansion.

Locally, Nestlé Jamaica is considering a project similar to the one done in Dominica Republic, Mayoral added, while Mota said Sofos was in talks with Digicel to provide installations for its data centre in Jamaica, which has energy-intensive needs.

Turnover for the Sofos group was US$100 million in 2013.

avia.collinder@gleanerjjm.com