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How Math & Science Can Transform Jamaica’s Solar Economy

By Ray Johnson 


For the past few weeks, we’ve blogged extensively about the upcoming (and first-ever) Jamaica Alternative Energy Expo.  


Hosted by USSolar Institute at the Kingston Pegasus Hotel from April 15 to 16, this 2-day event will feature some of the most prominent PV experts in the industry as we collectively map out a template that Jamaica and other Caribbean nations can follow in the years to come. 


Even though USSolar Institute is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale (a good 600 miles from Kingston), I keep a very close eye on all solar-related happenings in Jamaica.  


Several times throughout the year, my team makes trips down to this island paradise to lead workshops, seminars, and (as of 2013) huge alternative energy conferences.  


And when I can’t get away, I try to stay up-to-date by scanning news headlines that feature Jamaica’s burgeoning solar industry. 


I almost missed a recent story about Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell’s visit to a math and science competition.  


In Minister Paulwell’s public remarks to the 500+ competitors, he noted that his government recognized a critical need to improve math and science skills in the quest to transform Jamaica’s economy and secure a more sustainable future. 


Minister Paulwell went on to say that, “Jamaica’s future lies in developing a technology savvy, knowledge-based economy, where [his] people have the skills to compete with others anywhere in the world and the creativity to innovate new products and processes.”


What really caught my eye, however, was the follow-up.  Minister Paulwell correctly pointed out that Jamaica “need[ed] engineers, machinists, technicians and many more to build and maintain the solar and wind equipment for the renewable energy sector.”


Minister Paulwell’s Solar Assessment Is Absolutely Correct

I couldn’t agree more.  Having graduated hundreds of qualified solar PV installers over the years, I can tell you right now, a solid foundation in math and science is what determines whether you become a good installer or a great one.


I also agree that Jamaica is at a critical crossroads.   


The country is brimming with solar potential, but it lacks the training infrastructure to produce the requisite green workforce. 


Part of this problem stems from Jamaica’s relatively recent arrival on the solar scene.  It simply doesn’t have an extensive PV training history on which to rely. 


But part of the problem also stems from the country’s historically poor track record in science and math.


Don’t get me wrong.  The US education system is certainly not a shinning example of proficiency in these areas.  We lag way behind our peers when it comes to testing.


But fortunately, math, science, and PV installation are all learnable skills.  And with the right focus, there’s no reason why Minister Paulwell’s hopes can’t materialize in the next few years.  


Progress is already underway.  This year’s math and science competition attracted 500 entrants, which is more than last year’s.  


With this year’s Alternative Energy Expo, we hope to amplify this progress by determining how best to equip Jamaica with the installation, training, and other teachable skills necessary to support a true solar revolution. 


If you’d like to join us in this mission, be sure to register for the Expo by visiting:



Category/ies:Articles, Jamaica Articles.
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