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UTech/JPS Commission 100 KW Solar Energy Project


Admiring the newly unveiled UTech/JPS Solar Project sign located at the front field of UTech’s Papine campus from left, are Ambassador the Hon. Burchell Whiteman, OJ, President (Acting), UTech, Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, AVP, Sustainable Energy, Caribbean Sustainable Energy and Innovation Institute, UTech, Kelly Tomblin, President and CEO, JPS and Hon. Julian Robinson, MP, Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Mining. The sign which is powered by solar energy was unveiled on July 10, 2014 at UTech’s Papine campus.  


The University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) and the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) on Thursday July 10, 2014 formally commissioned a 100kW Solar Energy Project at a special ceremony and unveiling held at the University’s Papine campus. Both entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the development of the Project in October 2012. The project was completed within budget at a cost of US$308,000 and was put into service on June 12, 2014.


Acting President, UTech, Ambassador the Hon. Burchell Whiteman, OJ in his remarks described the collaboration as a “win-win” for both institutions and for the people of Jamaica. He thanked the JPS for the continued investment in an “active partnership” with the University, which encompasses academic delivery, training, research, service and outreach.


President and CEO, JPS, Kelly Tomblin told the gathering that JPS is committed to renewables as part of the energy mix and to leading an energy revolution to further Jamaica’s growth and prosperity. She noted that JPS hopes to achieve fuel diversity through the development of an integrated resource plan bolstered by market demand and the appropriate regulatory framework which supports this.


Project Overview


Project Lead, Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, AVP, Sustainable Energy, Caribbean Sustainable Energy and Innovation Institute, UTech and David Cook, Head, Projects Management and Engineering, JPS provided an overview of the steps involved in the design, fabrication, installation and commissioning of the 100 kW grid connected photovoltaic (PV) solar system which has been mounted on select roof tops and on the front lawn of the UTech Papine campus.


Mr. Cook reported that the scope of services included securing relevant permits, site selection, training and procurement of all equipment. The project team began working in December 2012 with the collection of solar data and preparation of the bid documents, culminating in the issue of a Request for Proposals. YZ Industries, a company out of Mandeville, Jamaica was chosen and the contract awarded on November 7, 2013.


The project provides research opportunities for the first time on the performance of mono crystalline and poly crystalline panels installed under local conditions as well as the performance of inverters of different sizes at a commercial scale. A database will be created on a number of parameters which can be shared with industry and the wider public to support the local solar PV industry. A web based solar log allows for easy access and monitoring of the system output and its cost savings capacity.


Mr. Cook announced that the photovoltaic system is expected to generate approximately 15,800kWh of energy annually, representing an average usage of 93 households. This will save Jamaica US $224,000 in fuel cost per annum.


Dr. Potopsingh explained said that the project was pursued out of an acute need to lower UTech’s electricity bill which averages $20 M monthly. She noted with pride that the partnership took place as a team effort, within the context of a “shared vision, mutual respect, trust and flexibility of business processes and thanked all stakeholders involved in the realization of the project. She reported that the renewable energy generating plant has been feeding into the UTech electricity grid since June 5, 2014.


Twenty-one (21) students who helped to build the plant were trained in photovoltaic and panel installation with one graduate having secured a job in the industry based on his engagement with the project. Mechanical Engineering student, Fitzroy Delaney, who addressed the gathering, said that he benefitted tremendously from participating in the project implementation from the casting of the foundation to the alignment of the panels. He urged UTech to integrate into the curriculum, more similar opportunities for hands-on training.


Hon. Julian Robinson, MP, Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Mining said that Jamaica’s energy bill in 2013 was US$2.21 Billion, representing about 15% of GDP and exceeding all of the country’s import costs. He lauded the UTech/JPS solar project as an “excellent initiative” consistent with the Government’s role to reduce energy, emphasizing that the only way Jamaica can “move to a more sustainable economy is to bring our energy costs down.”



Category/ies:Jamaica News, News.
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