Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says Jamaica has been aligning itself with the right contacts and expertise, where it could, one day, develop its own locally generated solar technology for export.
Mr. Holness, who was giving the keynote address at the inauguration of Paradise Park Solar Farm in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, on October 2, said “projects like these”, where some of the world’s best known renewable energy producers are shareholders, “give me the confidence” that Jamaica too could be heading for the big times.
“The Eight Rivers Energy Company (EREC) is the type of joint venture arrangement that we want to see more of in Jamaica,” the Prime Minister noted, referring to the company that was created for the sole purpose of owning and managing Paradise Park Solar Farm.
“Neoen, which owns just over 50 per cent of Eight Rivers, is a major global player in the renewable energy industry. It is also a high-growth company with a presence in France, Australia, Mexico, El Salvador, Argentina, Finland, Ireland, Zambia, Portugal, and now Jamaica. In particular, Neoen operates Europe’s most powerful solar farm in Cestas, France, and the world’s largest lithium-ion power reserve in Hornsdale, Australia,” he added.
Mr. Holness said that the involvement of a world-class solar-energy company like Neoen in a project in Jamaica is also significant from the standpoint that it speaks to the “demonstrated experience and resources” that are available to EREC in operating and expanding its solar presence in Jamaica.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister said that the interest of Jamaicans in investing in renewable energy could not have been more pronounced and more clearly demonstrated that when the Wigton Windfarm Farm offered to sell shares to the public.
He said that the Wigton experience, where 31,000 Jamaicans purchased shares, showed in no uncertain terms that financial constraints are no longer a deterrent to those wanting to invest in renewable energy.
“That is the single largest public investment in terms of the number of investors buying into such a product,” Mr. Holness noted.
Paradise Park, a US$65-million investment, is the largest solar project in Jamaica. It is projected to significantly decrease the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, while helping the island to reach its sustainable development targets. The solar farm is designed to supply 37 megawatts of power.