|Minister of Energy and Mining, Hon. James Robertson (third right), breaks ground last year for the expansion of the Wigton Wind Farm in Rose Hill, Manchester.|
The re-opening of the WINDALCO bauxite plant in Clarendon, the expansion of the Wigton Wind Farm in Manchester and the tabling of Jamaica’s first National Energy Policy were among the significant developments in the energy and mining sector during 2010.
The re-opening of the WINDALCO bauxite plant provided an important fillip to economic and social life in Clarendon and was a boost to Jamaica’s economic recovery programme. Celebrating the re-opening, Minister of Energy and Mining, James Robertson, said it represented the revival of the country’s bauxite industry and would have an important impact on the economy, noting that the economy had lost well over US$1 billion since the closure of the plants.
Some 600 workers were re-employed at the re-opening of the plant, which began with a production of approximately 321,000 tonnes of alumina, out of its total capacity of nearly 625,000 tonnes.
|The Wigton Wind Farm, in Rose Hill, Manchester, which is being expanded at a cost of US$49 million.|
The Jamaican Government has a minority share in the WINDALCO plant, whose majority shares belong to United Company Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer.
In March, Minister Robertson broke ground for the US$49 million Wigton Wind Farm expansion project located in Rose Hill, Manchester.
The project involves the installation of nine new two-megawatt wind turbines, which will increase the total amount of energy produced by Wigton to 38.7 megawatts. The generated power will be sold to the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) for domestic use. In addition, the plant’s operating facilities will be improved and a resource room for educational and technical information exchange established.
The expansion will produce some 55 Giga-watt hours of energy, enough to power about 24,000 homes and will see savings of approximately 32,400 barrels of oil valued at US$2.3 million. This clean energy technology will prevent the emission of 45,954 tonnes of carbon, thus enhancing the clean energy technology thrust of the Ministry of Energy and Mining.
|A truck being loaded with bauxite to be taken to the WINDALCO bauxite plant in Manchester, which was re-opened in 2010.|
Wigton Wind Farm is a subsidiary of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), an agency of the Ministry. The company was incorporated in 2000 to develop wind farms and other renewable energy systems to harness energy for generation of electricity for commercial and domestic use.
Wigton has been supplying wind generated energy to the JPS grid and at Munro College, in St. Elizabeth for some time. The project is 100 per cent financed from the PetroCaribe Development Fund.
Passage of the National Energy Policy (NEP) was also a major achievement of the government for the calendar year. The approval came at the end of weeks of robust debate in the House of Representatives.
The National Energy Policy provides a coherent, cohesive programme to transform the energy sector from it’s over dependence on imported oil to one that is diversified, dynamic, environmentally friendly and efficient.
The policy supports the country’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030, and outlines appropriate actions on such issues as climate change, energy conservation and efficiency as well as renewable energy. The policy will also create the framework for establishing linkages among various sectors to achieve policy coherence.
The policy focuses on a mix of energy options, such as liquefied natural gas, ethanol, solar, wind, mini-hydro, biomass (including bagasse) and other biofuels.
Another critical plank of the NEP is the establishment of a modern, well-defined legal and regulatory framework for the energy sector, which seeks to protect investors, consumers, and the environment against unsafe conditions and practices.
The introduction of LNG is also being viewed as a game changer, which is set to transform Jamaica’s energy and economic landscape.
In 2010 the country formally offered 19 offshore and four onshore blocks for licensing to undertake oil and gas exploration. Significant confidence was being expressed that with new seismic data showing very positive prospects, the country could eventually become one of the region’s oil producers.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Energy and Mining, Laurence Broderick, speaking at the second bid launch at the Geological Society in London earlier in the year, emphasised that low energy cost was key to the country’s industrial development and that the programme to develop and expand renewable energy sources would continue as a Government priority.
In April Minister Broderick also made a call for greater collaboration between oil producing and consuming nations at the Organisation of American States (OAS) Energy and Climate Change of the Americas Preparatory Ministerial Meeting, held in Washington, D.C.
He said there was an urgent need to demonstrate a greater resolve by the more advanced nations in assisting the non oil-producing nations. That, he said, would require tackling obstacles such as the provision of concessionary financing to energy-poor states to radically improve their energy infrastructure.
In 2010 also, the OAS committed to providing technical assistance for biofuel development and policy support in Jamaica, through an inter-governmental energy project, supported by the Governments of Brazil and the United States.
The overall goal of the project is to develop and implement Jamaica’s biofuels policy and establish a strong legal and regulatory framework for a vibrant biofuel industry.
Launching the programme in May at Jamaica House, the Energy and Mining Minister said the project represented an important plank in the Government’s overarching vision for the country. He said the biofuels policy represented an essential element of a wider restructuring of the energy sector, as government sought to implement the National Energy Policy and the goals of Vision 2030.
The project will contribute to the development of the country by developing local expertise and knowledge of emerging technologies through scientific exchange, international industry and government internships, and professional seminars and conferences.
At the end of the year, the Ministry undertook a major stakeholder/public education campaign aimed at getting greater consultation on the sub-policies of the National Energy Policy, hoping for national buy-in to this critical policy.