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Eight Rivers near ready to roll on solar plant, takes on new partners

Published:Monday | September 11, 2017 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson

Angella Rainford, partner in Eight Rivers Energy Company, expects to start construction of the largest solar energy plant in Jamaica by December.

Concurrently, Rainford expressed a "keen" interest in participating in additional energy projects. She explained that the energy storage remains a likely option. In such a case, the company's solar plant would sell excess energy generated during the day for sale at night to the national energy grid.

Energy storage facilities have gained traction with innovations from American company Tesla and China-based BYD. Rainford expects the Jamaican Government to offer storage tenders in 2018.

The solar plant at 37 MW capacity would become nearly twice the size of the largest solar plant in Jamaica. The construction phase will last a year, putting the plant on a schedule for commissioning December 2018. It aims to reduce carbon emissions by some 30,000 tonnes per annum.

"This is an extremely important, not only because of the cost to provide energy to the grid, but also, it will serve as a flagship for the future renewables. It is a game-changer for the energy sector," Rainford said.

The project now includes financing from German private equity firm along with Rainford's company, Rekamniar Frontier Ventures, and French group Neoen.

"It is a joint venture between Rekamniar and Neoen. We have now also brought in MPC Capital as a co-investor in the project," said Rainford in a Gleaner Business interview. She did not disclose the stake or size of investment made by the new partners.

Last year, Eight Rivers estimated the cost of development at US$48.7 million ($6.3 billion). It's an estimate that remains on track, Rainford said.

Eight Rivers Energy Company was also awarded grant funding from the US Agency for International Development for the project under the Clean Energy Finance Facility for the Caribbean and Central America, an initiative launched under former US president Barack Obama.

Eight Rivers Energy Company will own and operate the plant and will at times engage the use of subcontractors. It will sell supplies to the national electricity grid.