Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on Thursday broke ground for the construction of the first utility-scale solar energy power plant in Jamaica, which, upon completion, will be the largest such facility in the Caribbean.
Spanning some 160 acres of land in Content Village, York Town, Clarendon, the Content Solar Project being implemented by WRB Enterprises will involve the investment of approximately $US60 million by the developers, a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister said.
The development of the 20 megawatt photovoltaic facility will start this month with a view to completing and connecting it to the national grid by June 2016.
The Prime Minister said that this non-traditional energy source is a welcomed new economic activity, which is expected to generate jobs, and represents a renewal of the Government’s commitment to develop clean, affordable, renewable energy.
“Our energy policy reflects the commitment to diversify our energy mix and during this administration’s tenure, we have taken concrete action in the implementation of this policy,” Simpson Miller said.The Prime Minister noted that the Content Solar Project will “assist the country in its continued goal of increasing the share of renewable power generation from roughly seven per cent today to 15 per cent by 2020”. She pointed out that the electricity produced by this facility will replace some three million gallons of fuel per year.
Currently Jamaica imports over 20.5 million barrels of oil at a cost of some US$2 billion, representing 11.6 per cent of our GDP. Jamaica’s Energy Policy requires that at least 20 per cent of the country’s energy mix comes from renewable sources such as solar by 2030. The Policy is intended to facilitate the establishment of a comprehensive programme of efficiency improvement and energy diversification. It also commits Jamaica to a path for providing high quality, affordable, environmentally-friendly energy and to reducing the country’s dependence on high-cost imported oil.
“The successful implementation of the facility will demonstrate the efficiency of solar power in Jamaica’s renewable energy future,” Simpson Miller said, adding that the project promises to deliver low-cost, clean energy to Jamaicans for 30 years.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Content Solar Project follows renewed commitments to advance major investments in renewable energy announced by the Prime Minister and US President Barak Obama during his visit to the island on April 9 this year.