Tue | Sep 21, 2021

Retrofitted Ebony Park solar system commissioned into service

Published:Thursday | February 25, 2021 | 12:15 AMCecelia Campbell Livingston/Gleaner Writer
GREEN
GREEN

Farmers in the Clarendon South constituency can now benefit from the solar-powered irrigation system at the Ebony Park pump.

The system, which was officially commissioned into service yesterday via a virtual ceremony, is now the second on the list of five that are slated to be completed under the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) programme.

In his keynote address, Floyd Green, minister of agriculture, said it is in keeping with the vision to have a market-driven, research-based, sustainable agriculture and fisheries sector.

To achieve the goal, he said it must be ensured that whatever is done is environmentally friendly, cost-effective and serves the farmers.

“So here we are ensuring that our irrigation systems are environmentally friendly and cost-effective. I think all of us appreciate how critical irrigation is to our agricultural sector,” he said, adding that climate change is real and the only way to combat it is to ensure that the water management system is continually improved, which includes the provision of irrigation – ensuring the incorporation of renewable energy as part of the water management system.

“For us as government, it is critical that we don’t only talk the talk, but that we walk the walk, and we have been saying to private and public sectors that we have to invest more in renewable energy, so if we are going to say it, then we have to action it,” Green said in his address.

BENEFITS OF THE SYSTEM

Commenting on the benefits of the system which was done by contractors Alternative Power Sources Limited – within budget and on time with a budget of $32.2 million, Green said it will see the NIC being able to generate 75 per cent of its required energy, resulting in a 43 per cent annual reduction in operating cost, a yearly saving of $4.8 million.

CEO of NIC Joseph Giles, in his overview of the project, shared that the solar retrofitted unit is the second ground-mounted system installed by the NIC, with the first being at the Bengal Pump Station in Trelawny just over a year ago.

He noted that the project is expected to pay for itself within seven years.

Member of Parliament for the constituency, Lothian Cousins, in praising the system, described it as “forward thinking” in embracing technology, adding that it will benefit the farmers.

“So, we hoping that the objective of a project like this is to really and truly benefit the farmers in the long run at the end of the distribution cycle, to ensure that they benefit in a way where they can actually pay less for water, less to produce, and it will benefit the consumers at the end of the day,” he said.