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Use Wind Energy to Supply Water to St Elizabeth, Urges Professor

WORLD-renowned Jamaican expert on climate change, Professor Anthony Chen, is urging the use of the wind as a cheaper source of power to supply water to the traditionally drought-prone parishes of St Elizabeth and Manchester.

Speaking at yesterday’s Observer Monday Exchange, Professor Chen said the cost of wind energy was comparable with energy from fossil fuels, which are currently being used, and had the advantage of being a renewable energy source.

Professor Anthony Chen speaking at yesterday’s Observer Monday Exchange.

“We can think about using wind power — wind is very strong in the St Elizabeth area — to pump water from the Black River to higher storage areas (in the parish),” Chen told Observer reporters and editors.

Professor Chen, who was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which won the Nobel Prize in 2007, also suggested Mandeville as another area in need to be supplied water with the help of renewable energy.

In the discussion on Jamaica’s water crisis, it was noted that the cost of pumping water from areas of plenty to areas where there is little — such as Mandeville — was not cost effective.

But Basil Fernandez, managing director of the Water Resources Authority, said more Jamaicans needed to return to rainwater harvesting — catching water in tanks from their rooftops — as was done many years ago.

“Areas that have always used rainwater harvesting are still using it. Those that did (in the past) need to go back to that to augment their supplies of water from the National Water Commission,” he said.

He cautioned, however, that rainwater harvesting would not be suitable to areas such as South St Elizabeth because of low levels of rainfall.

“We are using a statistical analysis of rainfall data to determine the areas which offer the best potential for rainwater harvesting and putting the programme in place in those areas”, he said.

Meantime, Dr Michael Taylor, who succeeded Professor Chen as head of the climate studies group at the University of the West Indies, Mona, said adaptation strategies such as rainwater harvesting, retrofitting of bathrooms to use less water and the use of alternative energy were “things we would have to do for sustainable development anyway”.


Jamaica Observer

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