Jamaica seeks to decrease its oil dependency and improve its energy security by diversifying its electricity mix. It was the Caribbean’s first country to hold clean energy-only auctions. The country’s National Energy Plan 2009-2030 calls for 20% of its electricity generation to come from renewable sources by 2030.
Private utility Jamaica Public Service (JPS) has responsibility for generation, transmission and distribution on the island (the government owns 20% of the company). Other players may enter the market as independent power producers (IPPs) and sell electricity to JPS. The Ministry of Energy and Mining oversees energy planning and the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) regulates electricity. The OUR is also responsible for organising and conducting tenders for power supply. Jamaica relies mostly on fossil-fuelled generation using imported fuels, which is an expensive proposition for consumers. However, the average retail electricity rate in 2015 ($0.24/kWh) was 28% lower than in the previous year.
In 2014, 73% of Jamaica’s total 4.2TWh of electricity production came from oil and diesel plants. Small hydro and wind accounted for 6%. This mix is expected to change as five small hydro, solar and wind projects with a combined capacity of 87MW have been awarded contracts through two auctions. The latest auction, in 2013, aimed to contract 115MW.
One of these projects has been financed. On 25 June 2015, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) announced a $47m loan to support a 20MW PV plant in Clarendon Parish. It will be the first utility-scale solar plant in the country. On 9 May 2016, OUR announced the preferred bidder to develop a 33MW PV project at Westmoreland Parish. The next step is execution of project agreements. If that step is not achieved, OUR will move to the bidder next in line. The contracted project is expected to begin construction by July 2017 and start operation by December 2018.
Jamaica’s national energy policy encompasses five draft sub-policies: renewable energy, biofuels, energy efficiency, waste-to-energy and carbon credits trading. Each includes voluntary goals. Consumers with their own generation facilities may participate in JPS’s net metering pilot programme. They receive an avoided-cost rate plus 15% for electricity delivered to the national grid. As of May 2015, a total of 118 consumers with renewable energy self-generation facilities were connected to the grid.
On 27 November 2015, the government of Jamaica submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations, in which it committed unconditionally to mitigate the equivalent of 1.1m metric tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030. This represents a reduction of 7.8% of emissions versus the business as usual (BAU) scenario by 2030. Jamaica also committed to a 10% below BAU target, subject to international support, especially for the expansion of its energy efficiency initiatives. Jamaica’s target covers only actions in the energy and transportation sectors and its conditional goals are based on enhanced implementation of the National Energy Plan.
Jamaica scored 1.41 in Climatescope 2016, a considerable improvement on the 0.81 it earned in the previous survey, and it climbed fifteen places to 24th. Much of the impetus for its buoyant performance was derived from a strong result in Clean Energy Investment and Climate Financing Parameter II.
The country’s score on Enabling Framework Parameter I was 1.19, a modest improvement on the year before. It was placed in the bottom half of the order (36th), highlighting the fact that there were no new capacity additions in 2015.
Jamaica took 4th place globally on Parameter II with a score of 2.03. The jump from 40th in 2015 was fuelled by $208m of investment. There had been almost zero investment in the previous four years.
On Low-Carbon Business & Clean Energy Value Chains Parameter III, the country scored 0.78, which was unchanged from the previous year and put it 49th place. A scattering of project developers and engineers were present on the island nation.
Jamaica ranked 40th on Greenhouse Gas Management Activities Parameter IV with a score of 1.37 that was hampered by a lack of clean energy policies, but buoyed up by its Clean Development Mechanism activities.
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