More renewable energy for grid
Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell said yesterday that he expects renewable energy to comprise 12.5 per cent of the national grid by the end of 2016.
The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has invited interested entities to submit proposals for the provision of new generating capacity from renewable energy sources up to 37 megawatts (MW) to the national grid.
Currently, six per cent of the national grid is supplied by renewables, and this is to increase with the addition of 78MW by March next year with the coming on stream of three new renewable projects.
The National Energy Policy has identified fuel diversification and the development of the country's renewable energy sources as two of its main objectives. The policy sets a target of having 20 per cent of the country's energy being generated from renewables by 2030.
"My own view now is that we should aim for 30 per cent. The 12.5 will be achieved next year and we will be the leading Caribbean country in terms of renewables," Paulwell said.
Light and power provider, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), supplies consumers from an installed system capacity of approximately 945.1MW.
To date, the highest peak demand registered on the system was 644.4MW. In 2014, annual generation from renewable energy sources accounted for approximately six per cent of total system generation, with contributions of 2.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent from hydro and wind, respectively.
Meanwhile, Paulwell revealed that the net-billing arrangement is to be recommenced next month. The programme was suspended to undertake a review of the performance of the system and Paulwell said "all indications are that it has been doing very well and we, therefore, are going to resume".
Net-billing is the system whereby the JPS buys excess power from its customers.
More than 300 net billing licences have so far been issued by the energy minister, and the suspension of the system was undertaken to evaluate its success.
"We have not achieved the original target to get to 4MW of electricity being generated by that means and also we have not seen any degradation of the grid as a result," Paulwell said.
But while the Government gets set to resume the net-billing arrangements, JPS has said that the regulatory authorities must institute a special cost system for persons who generate most of their own energy through renewable energy but are still dependent on the grid.
"If you come on for one hour, I have to do the same exact generation that I have to do if you are on for one day," Kelly Tomblin, JPS president and CEO, told The Gleaner.
But Paulwell, responding to that charge, said "that is an argument that the OUR will have to address. Our policy is to encourage more and more renewables at the individual level."