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Jamaica – TT-Pilot (GEF-4): Introduction of Renewable Wave Energy Technologies for the Generation of Electric Power in Small Coastal Communities in Jamaica

Project Details
Implementing Agency:
Implementing Agency and Partnering Organizations:
Ministry of Energy and Mining, and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica’s Centre of Excellence for Renewable Energy
Funding Source:
Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF)
GEF Project Grant:
$ 715,000
Cofinancing Total:
$ 1,420,00
Total Amounts:
$ 2,161,400
Approval of Project document (CEO endorsement):
October, 2010
Approval of Project Concept Note:
December, 2010
Approximate start of Implementation:
January, 2011
Project Status:
Under implementation
Estimated Implementation Completion:
July, 2012
Project Components:
  1. Wave Energy Conversion Technology Assessment
  2. Capacity Building and Training
  3. Policy and Regulatory Support
  4. Demonstration Wave Energy Pilot Projects
  5. Project management
Expected Outputs:
  1. Documented Techno-economic feasibility assessments of potential WEC application projects, and of local production of WEC components.
  2. Workshop and training courses to increase technical capabilities of government agencies and targeted civil society institutions (NGOs, universities, consulting companies) developed and delivered.
  3. Regulatory Framework about Wave Energy in place. Short Term National Wave Energy Strategy defined.
  4. Documented results of the implemented WEC application demos; Identified and designed other WEC application projects.
Leading Organization:

The reduction of emissions of green house gases (GHG) and relevance and importance of the introduction and use of renewable energy technologies, especially for clean electric power generation, to contribute to these reductions is common knowledge. Within the new technologies that are being developed in the last few years for clean power generation, those based on marine renewable resources (especially wave, tidal, current) have great potential, due to its concentrated power and high predictability. It is expected that the average growth in electricity generation based on marine renewable resources (wave and tidal) will be around 12% in the period 2007 – 2015. Realizing this, countries like Ireland and Portugal have developed national strategies for the introduction of marine renewable power and others, like New Zealand and the UK, created funds and other incentives for the same purpose. The US, a late comer in this sector, has gone further and passed the ‘‘Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007’’ in December 2007 with a specific section (Subtitle C) on Marine and Hydrokinetic research and development. Other countries in tropical regions are starting to take note of the progress of wave energy and are including marine-based renewable energy in their development policies and regulatory frameworks to promote the introduction and use of this resource potential. ,

Until recently, all wave energy conversion (WEC) technologies were being developed in industrialized countries with high energy intensity seas (average wave height 2 meters and above) and were conceived to ultimately work in central grid-connected generation wave farms or parks. Developing marine renewable energy technologies in these temperate weather countries has led to conceptualization of technologies with high capital costs per installed kW capacities due to survival features in the designs (Pelamis, for example, one of the most well known offshore wave energy technologies, is designed to survive waves of up to 28 meters high). This has led European groups such as WaveNet, to infer that most of the shoreline/nearshore wave power devices start to become economically competitive at wave power levels of 40 kW/m and above (i.e., waves of aprox. 3 meters high @ periods of 10 second) , and that some of the offshore wave power devices also start to become economically competitive at offshore wave power levels of 30 kW/m and above (i.e., waves of aprox. 2.7 meters @ periods of 10 seconds).

Since most developing countries, especially those in the tropical regions, have low energy intensity seas with average wave power levels of 3 to 15 kW/m , the above mentioned issue results in an erroneous tendency within the renewable wave energy technology developers in industrialized countries to believe that the majority of tropical countries are not or will not be beneficiaries of this type of technology because of their low energy intensity seas.

If the technological development of marine renewable energy technologies continues to be concentrated in countries with temperate weather and oriented to work in high energy intensity seas, most countries, especially those in tropical regions which are home to the majority of poor populations, would not benefit at the short and medium term from this immense renewable energy resource.

If marine renewable technology for power generation were to be conceptualized to work in a distributed generation manner (not centralized), oriented to benefit small communities (50 to 400 people) and, in the case of wave energy conversion, survive waves of up to 5-7 meters high (not 28 meters high as the Pelamis), capital and operation and maintenance costs would be much lower than those projected by actual technology developers. This would allow developing countries, especially small island states, to be beneficiaries of marine renewable technologies. Since the size, capacity and costs of these tropical-environment conceptualized technologies would be lower than its temperate-environment counterparts, the deployment and testing could be expedited. Already there are companies developing wave energy conversion technologies for Tropical seas and projects being pursued to introduce renewable wave energy in the Caribbean. ,

The proposed project will contribute to the reversal of this tendency in the development of marine renewable energy technology, and to accelerate the introduction, conceptualization, development and use of marine technologies adapted to tropical environments. The proposed project would demonstrate, through pilot projects, that renewable wave energy technology is applicable in Small Island Developing States, not only for distributed electric power generation but also for beach erosion control and reduction of vulnerability due to storm waves.

During the implementation of the proposed project, one or two small coastal communities will benefit from renewable wave energy in Jamaica. It is estimated that in the mid-term (2 to 5 years), due to replication of similar projects in Jamaica and other Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean Region, a large number of small coastal communities, especially those isolated communities that either do not have electric power or depend on diesel electric power generation distributed through mini-grids, will benefit from wave energy conversion technologies. A very preliminary estimation of the number of final beneficiaries in the mid-term could be up to 50 small coastal communities connected to distributed electric power generation based on marine renewable resources. Taking an average number of 200 people per community, this means that around 10.000 people could potentially benefit from the action within 5 years.

The use of clean marine energies in Caribbean countries will not only contribute to stabilize the greenhouse effect and avoid serious interruptions of the climate, but also to reduce the costs related to the generation and use of energy especially in island countries where the cost of electricity at residential level can rise to above US$ 0.20/kWh. It is expected that the cost of electricity from wave energy converters in Jamaica (and many Tropical Islands) would be in the order of US$ 0,12 – 0,20/kWh, which would be competitive with PV solar, a technology usually used in rural electrification, and even competitive with some interconnected systems in the Caribbean Islands.

Source: Introduction of Renewable Wave Energy Technologies for the Generation of Electric Power in Small Coastal Communities in Jamaica, Project Identification Form, 2009.

Primary Beneficiaries:
Local communities

Oliver Page
Regional Technical Advisor
507- 3024548

Category/ies:Wave Tech.
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