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Jamaican firms must now look seriously at renewable energy

Julian Richardson
Friday, March 28, 2008

Energy minister, Clive Mullings, has said that the private sector must invest in renewable energy if the country is to survive the crippling effect that out of control energy prices has on the economy.

Speaking at the Mayberry Investor’s Forum last week, Mullings, noting that growth and energy consumption go’hand-in-hand’, said that local businesspersons need to become more innovative in dealing with the issue.
“You will have to consume more energy when you grow therefore you will have to change your source of energy so that it will not be a drag in seeking to grow further,” said Mullings.

“The end game cannot be fossil fuels or gas; the end game for us must be renewables.”

The minister’s comments comes against the backdrop that the price of oil is currently floating close to US$110 a barrel, and Jamaica, an oil-dependent nation which uses approximately 27.4 million barrels per year, has to take on a huge annual oil-import bill that exceeded US$2 billion last year, and equates to a huge chunk of the island’s approximate GDP of J$700 billion.

The minister highlighted that the government has the legislative framework already in place in the form of concessions, but it is for the private sector to utilise them to enhance efficiency.
“It is innovation that is going to solve the energy crisis we face; we can no longer be a nation of samplers and ideas,” said the minister. “Government has a responsibility to lead that but I place greater trust and hope in entrepreneurs and investors to lead it and drive it.”

Mullings added that agressive private sector interest in renewables will help the country fulfill one of the terms of the PetroCaribe deal signed off with Venezuela -stating that the island is to focus on alternative sources of energy, including solar and wind energy.

“This is the time now for us to utilise the challenge as an opportunity to grow and to expand our renewables programme and that is what is going to happen,” noted Mullings. “We have a timeline that by 2010, at least 10 per cent will be renewables, and the rest will be fossil fuels….that timeline can very well be shortened by innovation and how quickly we can drive the process for renewables.”

The PetroCaribe Agreement represents the strengthening of relations between oil-rich Venezuela and the countries of the Caribbean by providing significant support to the petroleum industry in the face of rising oil prices. The agreement was signed in June 2005 and allows Jamaica to convert 40 per cent of purchase payments for the 23,500 barrels-a-day of oil imported from Venezuela, into a long term soft loan.


Category/ies:Biomass, Jamaica News.
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