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MBJ invests in solar to slash energy bill

Published:Wednesday | June 10, 2020 | 12:54 PM

MBJ Airports Limited, which manages Sangster International Airport, SIA, expects to reduce its electricity bill by 11 per cent through a US$1.2-million ($170-million) solar energy project.

It’s one of the essential capital projects to be pursued by the operator of Jamaica’s largest airport, while other capex plans are mothballed due to the economic fallout arising from COVID-19. A separate ongoing capital project aims to increase the airport’s retail space by 50 per cent by March 2021.

MBJ Airports said the 1.0MW solar plant would be installed on the main departure terminal or eastern concourse roof. Over time, the airport plans to increase solar capacity to 3.0MW, which it projects would chop its light bill by 33 per cent.

That project would install panels in the existing parking areas, but no timeline was given for that phase of the project.

MBJ said the solar project is meant to reduce the SIA’s reliance on power from the national electricity grid, and reduce its operating costs and carbon footprint. The Mexican owned airport operator expects to recoup its investment in about six years.

Derillion Energy Jamaica Limited, which won the contract for the 1MW project, is a consortium of Reil Energy from Jamaica and Aten Group from the United Kingdom. It began working last month and is expected to complete the job in eight months.

Managing Director of Reil Energy Benjamin Daley told the Financial Gleaner that, initially, 30 persons would be employed in phase one, and that the numbers would grow to 40 during phase two, which involves the electromechanical works.

“The panel performance guarantee is 25 years, but they will keep producing after that,” said Daley of the expected savings to MBJ.

As for the other major project, it involves the renovation of MBJ corporate offices and construction of 2,700 square metres of new retail space, renovation of over 4,000 square metres of space to create 15 retail units, a large lounge and food court. The job was awarded to ZDA Construction Limited, which began construction works on March 1. The project is scheduled to last one year to March 2021.