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Jamaicans to participate in US exchange programme on renewable energy

Published:Tuesday | July 21, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE UNITED States is committed to bringing renewable, reliable, and affordable energy to the Caribbean.

Through partnerships with the private sector, the US Government has already invested hundreds of millions (USD) in the region's renewable energy sector, but without a modern regulatory infrastructure, this investment can only go so far.

That's why the US Embassy in Kingston has organised the multinational professional exchange: Caribbean Renewable Energy Regulation and Development.

Gerald Lindo, senior technical officer with the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, and Mark Williams, senior energy engineer from the energy division at the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, will join 10 other Caribbean experts on this prestigious exchange under the US State Department's International Visitor's Leadership Program.


Sharing energy practices


"The aim of the exchange is to showcase America's best practices in energy regulation, investment, and development," the embassy in Kingston said. "We hope these innovative renewable energy technologies will be adopted here in Jamaica and across the Caribbean."

The participants will have a chance to meet with leading experts in renewable energy development, especially on the important and complex intersection of technology, policy, and finance.

Equally important will be the interactions with regulators at the various levels of the American federal system - municipal, state, and federal - to exchange ideas on energy policies and how it can become a tool to accelerate the adoption of renewables.

As the senior technical officer at the climate change ministry, Lindo is the lead adviser on climate change mitigation issues for Jamaica.

Lindo said he was "eager to meet with [his] counterparts in the US to better understand how they tackle problems similar to those faced in Jamaica in a bid to determine how those strategies and techniques can be applied to the Jamaican context".

Williams, whose primary responsibility with the energy ministry is to monitor the country's progress in satisfying annual energy sector indicators and targets, says that "this programme comes at an important time given the new developments in the island's renewable energy sector".

He believes that it "will help with the strengthening of Jamaica's priority areas within the National Energy Policy".

The exchange is one part of the multimillion-dollar Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI) unveiled by US Vice President Joseph Biden in June 2014.

Under the CESI, the US helps its Caribbean neighbours improve their energy security through increased investment, increased access to finance, and strengthened coordination among energy donors, governments, and stakeholders.

The exchange is intended to build on the years of partnership between the US and Jamaica to build the island's renewable energy capacity.

Just this year, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation has provided US$47 million in financing to support the 20 megawatt grid-connected solar photovoltaic facility in Clarendon and US$42.7 million in financing to build, operate, and maintain the 36.3MW capacity wind farm in Malvern, St Elizabeth.

Jamaica's two participants will be joined by their counterparts from The Bahamas, Barbados, CuraÁao, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago.