My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: JPSCo says Hydroelectric down 15% - Solar and Wind fill 115MW Renewable Energy Contract

Saturday, August 23, 2014

JPSCo says Hydroelectric down 15% - Solar and Wind fill 115MW Renewable Energy Contract

“JPS is currently working on a proposal which is critically important to guiding the decision on what size power plant should be built to ensure we obtain the optimal generation mix and the best results for Jamaica and our customers. The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has recently granted permission for two significant renewable energy projects, using wind and solar [which are] to be undertaken by other energy companies [and] which should be realised in the media term.”

JPS Co Corporate Communications Officer Audrey Williams commenting on the effect the
Drought is having on hydroelectric plants in Jamaica

The Annual Drought, as I like to call it in Jamaica, isn’t just causing people to not take regular baths and bathe out of bathtubs.

It’s also making our Electricity bill go up and forcing the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) to spend more money on foreign exchange. This as the Drought means that rivers that normally would be running high are now low and as such, power from Hydroelectric Plants is down as noted in the article “Drought cuts hydro energy output 15%”, published Wednesday, August 13, 2014, The Jamaica Observer .

According to the JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service Company), the contribution of Hydroelectric Power to the Electricity generated and consumed by Jamaicans connected to the Grid has dropped by 15%, ostensibly a result of the ongoing drought.

Not surprising , as according to Minister of Environment Robert Pickersgill rainfall levels are at an all time low of 30% below levels typical for June with Clarendon, Manchester , St. Elizabeth and St. Catherine where four (4) of JPS's hydro plants are located getting little or no rain!

Hydroelectric Future in Jamaica – FDI’s will not invest if Rainfall and Rivers so unreliable

This is bad, as the intent is for Renewable Energy to contribute some 15% to the overall Electricity Production in Jamaica in 2015. It’s just 23MW from nine (9) hydroelectric plants, a shortfall that the JPS co can easily fill using conventional Heavy Fuel Oil Generators.

Still four parishes with four hydroelectric plants producing no electricity is not a good sign. According to the JPSCo Corporate Communications Officer, Two (2) of those hydroelectric plants located in Maggotty, St Elizabeth, are the most affected by the drought.

The Roaring River Hydropower Plant in St. Andrew is the least affected as stated by JPS Co Corporate Communications Officer Audrey Williams, quote: “We are fortunate to have continued stream flow, though reduced, where our hydroplants are located. The Roaring River, which supplies the Roaring River Hydropower Plant, tends to have fairly consistent flow throughout the year”.

This drought problem doesn’t auger well for hydroelectric future in Jamaica, though.  It suggests that getting FDI (Foreign Direct Investors) to bid for contracts to build Hydroelectric plants in a country with such unreliable rainfall will be difficult.

115MW Renewable Energy Contract – Solar and Wind but Hydro affected by Climate Change

It’s also good to note that 2015 is the year that the US$4.6 billion dollar expansion of the Wigton Wind Farm Limited will commence as stated in my Geezam blog article entitled “Wigton Wind Farms 24 MW Wigton III Project Priced at US$4.6 Billion to start 2015”.

 Wigton III Project expansion will see some 24MW of power added to the wind Farm, bringing up the total to some 62.7MW. Combined with the other winners of the Bid to supply some 115MW of Renewable Energy to the National Grid as explained in my blog article entitled “Wigton Wind Farms Limited submits Bid Bond for 24MW Wind Farm - 78MW Total from WWFL, BMR and WRB Enterprises Inc means were 37MW short on Renewable Energy”.

The total contribution will be some 78MW, with a shortfall of 37MW from the above-mentioned total of 115MW. What will Hydroelectric Power contribute to that total remains to be seen. This Drought, really, highlights the effects of Climate Change and how heavily interconnected the Weather is to how we treat the environment and protect our natural resources.

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