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Solar fully powers new townhouse complex

A townhouse complex, The Doric, under construction at Clieveden Avenue in Kingston, will be the first residential development in the island to be totally outfitted with electricity-generating photovoltaic panels.

“We have so far installed panels on five units,” said Damian Lyn, whose company, Alternative Power Sources, has the contract to install the power units at the housing complex.
When completed, the 12 townhouses will have the capacity to generate enough electricity to power regular household appliances without relying totally on the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) grid.

“It will alternate between the grid and the system, we are setting it up so it can alternate automatically, but homeowners can shut out the grid completely if they desire,” Lyn told the Business Observer.

The system can run continuously for eight to 10 hours and also provide back-up in case of power outages.
The Doric is being developed by Conrad Graham, and townhouses in the scheme are priced at approximately $25 million each.

Lyn, who was last week elected president of the Jamaica Solar Energy Association (JSEA), said that the system at The Doric is fairly modest with a 3.6 kilowatt capacity and 110 volt inverters.
LYN. this was meant to be a project where the developer gives the home owner a touch of solar

He explained that the project was designed to give homeowners an example of solar power but could be upgraded to 110/220v as required.

“This was meant to be a project where the developer gives the homeowner a touch of solar,” said Lyn. “The system is modular and can be upgraded.”

Photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electrical energy, which is subsequently stored in a bank of batteries. An inverter then converts the DC battery power to AC for use in appliances.

A 400 watt, 110 volt system, able to work a full day powering regular household appliances such as television sets, a fridge and lights, would cost US$7,500, Lyn said.

Overcast days would somewhat affect the system’s ability to provide full power, but it would still accept charge because the energy is produced from light and not temperature, he added.

The technology, which is relatively new to the island, has not found popular favour, it is argued, primarily because of prohibitive set-up costs. But Lyn contended that the amortisation rate for a residential system is between eight and 10 years. For a commercial customer setting up the photovoltaic system, amortisation would be less than five years, he added.

“That is not considering possible increases in JPS rates. With the increases, the payback time would be drastically reduced,” he said.

However, apart from saving on electricity charges, Lyn explained that the power supplied by the system is ‘cleaner’ than that from the JPS grid.

“Where the system is installed you would not need a UPS to run your computer as there would be no fluctuation in the current,” he explained.

At the recent JSEA annual general meeting, guest speaker Dr Raymond Wright of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, said that the use of photovoltaic panels should become more widespread as part of a collective effort to reduce the island’s high fuel bill.

“I look forward to the time when buildings in Jamaica will be roofed with photovoltaic tiles being a part of the building and not an add-on,” he said.

Wright said that there was too much dependency on government leadership, and the private sector should, instead, be involved in public awareness while incorporating the technology in their plans.

Architects should design using the panels, and building societies should consider special funding for the use of solar technology, Wright said.

He admitted, however, that photovoltaic panels would not become commonplace until the JPS adopted a net metering policy for people generating their own electricity.

In net metering, if a JPS customer using the photovoltaic panels, for example, produces excess electricity, it is fed back into the system and the amount deducted on the meter.
“With net metering you receive credit on the meter for what you produce. No money exchanges hands,” said Lyn.

The JPS, he said, has argued against this method, opting instead for net billing, which would see the JPS pay between US five and nine cents per Kilowatt hour for electricity that is fed into its grid from customers.

“That is what the JPS would agree to at the time,” said Lyn, adding that soon the company would be under new management and policies could change.

Though largely untested in the island, the photovoltaic system has Lyn’s unwavering commitment; he said it is slowly gaining acceptance and even replacing JPS-supplied electricity.

“I have four locations that do not receive any power at all from the grid,” he affirmed.


Category/ies:Featured, Jamaica News.
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