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Invest in wind, solar energy

Invest in wind, solar energy

 June 27, 2010 -Craig Francis

The Editor, Sir:

The recent furore by the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and the general public about the increase requested by and given to the Jamaica Public Service by the Office of Utility Regulations should bring into sharp focus the need for an alternative and cheaper source of energy. In a country where we have a ubiquitous supply of sun and wind, I have often wondered why we have not invested heavily in solar or wind-energy generation.

The use of the sun to produce energy is not some new technology that we can’t afford, as solar research has been around since the 1830s. This really got developed in the 1950s and is very much advanced technology now. It is beyond my imagination why none of our successive governments has invested in this sort of technology or has sought to implement policies to encourage its use. We would not have to be too concerned about the source, as we have sun for most of the 365 days of the year.

Reduce bill

We can cut our energy bill significantly and also our oil bill if we convert to using solar energy to produce our electricity. Why wouldn’t the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) be interested in weaning our dependence on oil? We have to import oil and it has to be paid for with foreign exchange. These monies that could be saved, we would then use in other areas such as development, both social and infrastructural.

The current government is touting the ‘eat what we grow’ campaign; we should also be touting use what we have for our energy.

If you were to check with customs, you would find high duties on the importation of the equipment used in the production of solar power, things such as solar panels and the batteries used in storing the harnessed power. This policy needs to be revisited by the government to ensure that persons who wish to save money by switching to this form of power can do so, and do so cheaply, and with relative ease.

The implementation of the technology and the equipment to allow for their use will be daunting at first glance. However, if the legislature has the will, they can pass the relevant laws to set the platform for the use of solar power. Then, incentives can be given to companies to invest in said technologies so we can be put on a path of freedom from foreign oil, a path of savings of foreign exchange, and the use of clean renewable energy. This would be a remarkable feat for our small island state.

But until a national policy is established, the GOJ, in the interim, should allow persons to have easier access to import the parts needed to make the solar panels and the panels themselves

Source:Sunday Gleaner

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