WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — Jamaica is the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country that will benefit from an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) multimillion-dollar-funded regional Energy Efficiency Green Bond Facility.
The IDB said that it has approved financing to establish the facility and that the programme was selected to receive up to US$217 million in additional funding as one of eight projects worldwide in the first round of allocations announced by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) earlier this month.
“This private sector programme stands out for its innovative financial approach, involving small and medium enterprises and the potential mobilisation through capital markets of funds from different institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies,” said Gema Sacristan, IDB’s Financial Markets Division Chief.
Providing an alternative financing mechanism for energy efficiency projects through the issuance of green asset-backed securities (ABS), the programme will also contribute to the development of capital markets in the region.
The programme will introduce green ABS following the Green Bond Principles standards and will foster socially and environmentally responsible investments.
“The approval of this programme furthers our commitment to supporting Latin American and Caribbean countries in the implementation of their proposed Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs),” said Amal-Lee Amin, IDB’s Climate Change and Sustainability Division Chief.
“Tapping into domestic capital markets for refinancing of energy efficiency is key for increasing the scale of investment for de-carbonisation over the medium and longer-term.”
IDB said that Mexico will be the first country to implement this programme, followed by the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Colombia.
The IDB’s loan of up to US$400 million will be complemented by a loan of up to US$50 million from the China Co-Financing Fund, administered by the IDB, in connection with the first utilisation of the facility in Mexico.
Although Abengoa, the Spanish company selected as the preferred bidder to build a major power plant in Jamaica, has initiated steps that could lead to a bankruptcy declaration, Jamaica Public Service Company CEO Kelly Tomblin is not yet ready to call it quits on the multinational corporation.
Reacting to news of the bankruptcy proceedings initiated by Abengoa, Tomblin said she was monitoring the situation of the Spanish renewable-energy company.
It was only last week that JPS announced Abengoa as the preferred bidder to build the 190-megawatt combined-cycle plant in Old Harbour, St Catherine.
Despite fears that Abengoa may not be able to fulfil the requirements of the bid, given its precarious financial situation, Tomblin is holding out hope that the company will be able to make good on its financial obligations in relation to the bid.
“We have been monitoring the situation for some time. We have backup plans, but we have to wait and see what Abengoa shows us. But pot can’t call kettle black because JPS, as you know, has had its own financial difficulties, and we are just now emerging from those, so we know what it’s like, so we want to make sure that we don’t overreact,” Tomblin told The Gleaner last evening.
In the event that Abengoa folds completely, Kelly Tomblin pointed out that JPS has several alternatives.
“There are other vendors. We have many vendors who were poised to build the plant, so if, in fact, Abengoa can’t show, then other people can build the power plant. As you know, we have shareholders who have deep expertise, but we don’t want to jump the gun. Of course, Abengoa will have to give us financial assurance, but, again, pot can’t call the kettle black. It wasn’t very long ago that JPS, too, was facing insolvency problems,” she said.
Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell, in reacting to the news, said there was no need to panic and that JPS should be given the space to continue the procurement process.
When asked if the situation vindicates him in respect of the Energy World International (EWI) bid, Paulwell said, “There will be vindication when the gas is here because that, for me, is the most important aspect.”
Paulwell was in charge of overseeing the Government’s 391-megawatt project, which awarded a bid to EWI, a company which faced financial woes, leading to questions about its ability to deliver on the bid. This was before responsibility for the project was handed over to the Vin Lawrence-led enterprise team.
Now, with news of Abengoa’s bankruptcy filing, Jamaica’s renewable-energy plans may be delayed yet again.
Abengoa’s latest financial woes sent shockwaves through the banking sector and financial markets in Spain yesterday, fuelling concerns that the country’s lenders may be left with heavy losses.
According to international media reports, Abengoa has been having financial challenges from as far back as 2013, when Spain instituted energy reforms, which reduced subsidies to renewable-energy providers. This affected Abengoa’s capital base significantly and further exacerbated its pile-up of debt.
The Financial Times has said that a possible default by Abengoa could count as the largest bankruptcy in Spanish history, given that as of September, Abengoa carried gross debt of £8.9 billion.
The filing for preliminary creditor protection yesterday came after a potential investor cancelled plans to inject £350 million into the company.
While he could not comment on questions of whether due diligence was done on the Abengoa bid, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica CEO Dennis Chung said news of the filing does not mean the company will go under, as bankruptcy proceedings often give a company an opportunity to rebuild.
“I couldn’t comment on due diligence. I have to believe that proper due diligence would have been done, so that question should be put to the person who actually did the due diligence,” Chung said.
Apple will power all its operations in Singapore—including its first retail location in there–with renewable energy. The iPhone maker confirmed to Reuters on Sunday (Nov. 15) that Singapore-based solar developer Sunseap Group will provide it with 100% renewable electricity from solar energy systems built atop more than 800 buildings.
The systems will generate 50 megawatts of solar energy, enough to power the equivalent of 9,000 homes. Apple will receive 33 MW of the new project’s capacity, according to Reuters.
The news is the latest in a string of Apple announcements about renewable energy. In October it announced it would build 200 MW of solar power in China and push suppliers to make similar commitments. That came on top of two previously announced solar farms in the country producing a combined 4 MW of power.
Earlier this year Apple said it was partnering with First Solar to build a massive farm of solar panels to power its upcoming “Campus 2” headquarters in California. The “spaceship campus” will be powered entirely by renewable energy sources, the company has said.
“We’re doing this because it’s right to do,” Tim Cook said at the time to an audience at a Goldman Sachs event. “But you may also be interested to know that it’s good financially to do it.”
In any case, Apple can afford to make investments in renewable energy, however long they take to pay off.
Surprisingly, Apple does not yet have a retail store in Singapore, a major shopping hub in Southeast Asia. The city-state gets hordes of shoppers from nearby countries, especially Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation. This year, Jakarta alone will send Singapore some 1.7 million visitors, who will spend about $2.7 billion, according to the MasterCard 2015 Global Destination Cities Index.
Apple products in Singapore are currently sold through third-party retailers, mobile carriers, and its online store. The company did not disclose the exact location of the upcoming store, but the Straits Times reported last month on a fitness chain moving out of a prime spot on Orchard Road—Singapore’s leafy, mall-lined shopping mecca—to “make way for Singapore’s first Apple store in 2016.”
The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has announced that it no longer has responsibility for the Net Billing Programme.
The net-billing system, which was introduced in 2012, allows persons who own renewable energy generators to generate electricity for personal use, and sell excess energy to the national grid.
This process was being led by the OUR.
However, the OUR said the deletion of Condition 18 of the Amended and Restated All-Island Electric Licence and the provisions in the Electricity Act, 2015, which came into effect in August, means that it no longer has authority to lawfully engage in the addition of generating capacity to the national grid.
It said Section 9 (2) of the Electricity Act specifically excludes the OUR’s involvement in accepting applications and making recommendations to the minister of science, technology, energy and mining for licences.
The OUR said that section provides that the minister has exclusive authority over the issuing of licences.
The OUR said that as a result, it cannot lawfully assume responsibility for the licensing process and, therefore, it considers its substantive role in the Net Billing Programme at an end.
Head of the Electricity Sector Enterprise Team (ESET) Dr Vin Lawrence says there was a vast number of credible bids that were put forward for the supply of natural gas to the new power plant to be built by Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS).
New Fortress Energy, the same entity which won the bid to supply gas to the Bogue power plant in Montego Bay, has been selected as the entity to supply LNG to the new plant, on which construction is expected to begin by the second quarter of next year. The arrangement will see New Fortress installing the facilities to receive, store and re-gas the fuel for use at the new 190-megawatt gas-fired plant at Old Harbour.
“Six entities submitted 16 variations of proposals and we were quite delighted at this because we have gone through 15-20 years of attempting to get LNG to Jamaica without much success, and on this RFP, we have had six credible entities submitting 16 variations of supply proposals,” Lawrence said.
The ESET chair, who was addressing a Jamaica House press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, also announced that the JPS has selected Spanish firm Abengoa to construct the new plant.
Lawrence said the agreement is for New Fortress Energy to build a terminal and supply the JPS with 200,000 metric tonnes of LNG per annum. New Fortress Energy will build, own and operate the plant which Lawrence said must be expandable.
The company will spend more than $200 million on the terminal, which is expected to be constructed at Rocky Point, Clarendon.
“We have been trying for 20 years to bring natural gas to Jamaica, and so, we believe it is also in our interest that we have a terminal facility that can expand and grow,” he said.
The gas plant is due to be finished by the fourth quarter of 2017 and the power plant is due to be ready at the beginning of 2018.
With Jamalco indicating that it is reviewing its decision on whether it will go ahead with the building of a coal plant or switch its plans to using natural gas, Lawrence said the demand for LNG could be about 500,000 metric tonnes per year.
Lawrence said the bauxite-producing company is being allowed another two to three weeks to “have discussions with the possible gas supplier for a final decision to be taken”.
“This period will not affect the scheduling that we had proposed for Jamalco. If they shift to gas, we would have a two-year rather than a three-year construction period and the capital cost would be significantly less,” Lawrence added.
The new building of the JPS power plant represents part of an effort to lower electricity costs on the island. The plant will replace 292 megawatts of heavy fuel oil power plant at Old Harbour in St Catherine, and will be combined with energy from renewable sources and cogeneration facilities from Pan-Caribbean Sugar Company and bauxite companies.
The final electricity price to the grid will be less than US$0.13 cents per kWh, the ESET head said, which would mean at least a 30 per cent cut in light bills.
Lawrence said Jamaica has been looking at getting one million metric tonnes per year, and that New Fortress Energy is expected to construct a terminal that can supply the 200,000 metric tonnes that the JPS requires.
He said the demand for LNG from other sources would determine how quickly the facility is expanded.
Technical assistance was provided by the Galway Group and Hatch Mott McDonald, two reputable international firms.
Critical issues such as the security of supply, capability of delivering the project, ability to expand the terminal, ability to meet the power plant schedule, and a commitment to achieve a timely financial close were considered in selecting New Fortress Energy as the preferred bidder.
POTENTIAL home owners in search of environmentally friendly surroundings have just got lucky.
Developers of what is being touted as Jamaica’s “first green residential community” last week broke ground for the construction of 114 energy-efficient homes in Greendale, St Catherine, called Green Village.
Project manager Paul Soegaard told the Jamaica Observer that the phased development will begin later this month and is expected to cost roughly $1 billion. He added that the developers are looking to employ up to 200 individuals to complete the project.
The gated community features 48 two-bedroom single-family homes, 24 two-bedroom apartments and 42 super studio apartments, spanning roughly 930, 717 and 475 square feet respectively.
Starting at $7.9 million, the complex is located a few metres before entering Spanish Town and is overlooked by the well established residential community, St Jago Heights. Amenities of the community include a swimming pool, clubhouse, BBQ and green area and a play area.
The development is a joint financing project with the National Housing Trust and the Green Village Country Club developers.
“Under a short- to medium-term housing programme developed by the NHT, some 9,000 housing solutions will be funded by the Trust over the next two years to enable thousands of families to realise their dream of owning a home,” the NHT stated in a release to the public.
The government agency hopes to boost the housing solutions available to contributors and noted that some 42 housing solutions are currently buimg built across the island. Of that number, St Catherine has a total of 11 developments including the Green Village, followed by Clarendon and Kingston and St Andrew, which each have seven developments.
“It’s driven by fundamentals,” Soegaard told the Sunday Finance. “First of all, attainable lands are not easy to find these days and this development is really the closest to Kingston. That’s the main driver.
“We were lucky enough to own these lands for a number of years, and with the demand for housing we just decided to build the first green housing development in Jamaica. There is great demand for housing coming out of the Kingston area, spilling all the way over to Old Harbour as annual surveys by the NHT indicates.
“The connection to the Green Village in Greendale, St Catherine, is by coincidence, our name is driven by best practices and building strategies, but I think they complement each other,” the project manager stated.
Green Village is designed to be energy-efficient and includes features such as solar water heaters, water and energy-reducing features for faucets and toilets. The development is also designed to take advantage of passive energy and natural light instead of purchased electricity or natural gas.
“It means that the houses are built of aerated concrete to foster cooler homes than the traditional ones and designed so that you can get a lot of sunlight without the rays passing through,” Soegaard explained.
The architectural design of the complex also provides for renewable energy-powered street lighting, Bahamas sun shades which also function as hurricane shutters and burglar bars, biodigester and reed bed sewage treatment plants which give a much higher level of treatment than septic tanks, storm water retention, grey water recycling, and xeriscaping — the practice of landscaping the common area with plants that use little to no water.
With regards to further expansion, Soegaard says there are plans underway for the development of a second phase based on sales demand.
“It’s dependent on a number of factors, but we have the option to do a phase two — though nothing is confirmed at this point,” he said.
BY KARENA BENNETT
HERO BX, one of the largest biodiesel producers in the US, is currently exploring possibilities to develop Jamaica’s first commercialscale biodiesel plant.
The firm’s representatives have been visiting the island since Jampro’s “Jamaica Investment Forum” earlier this year, and have been meeting with various government and private sector stakeholders with serious interest in confirming the project.
The plant would boost Jamaica’s renewable energy programme and would also impact a number of industries, since biodiesel uses feedstock such as waste oils from the hospitality industry and plant feedstock from the agricultural industry.
The investment would also be a significant source of employment and could empower the Government to benefit from the sale of biodiesel produced here on the island, which would operate as the hub of HERO BX’s Caribbean operations.
HERO BX produces 50 million gallons of fuel per year from multiple raw materials and has achieved the highest quality accreditation available. The company is investigating expanding into the Caribbean region, as the growing global renewable energy market is estimated to grow to US$614.92 billion by the end of 2015.
Glen F Garth, executive vice-president of US consulting firm Garth Solutions Inc, and representative of HERO BX, stated that Jamaica has received top billing for the development of the plant due to the country’s strategic location, amongst other factors.
“The location of Jamaica strategically in the Caribbean basin, the access to a quality, educated labour force, the access to all of the benefits that are available due to commitments made by the Jamaican government to encourage foreign direct investment, are all factors.
Those attributes are what first attracted our attention and have further strengthened our interest in establishing a biodiesel hub in Jamaica.” Garth also commended the country’s strong national energy policy and renewable energy sub-policy, saying those components were seen as favourable, and increased the company’s interest in Jamaica.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton noted that Jamaica continues to receive more investment interest.
“This robust investment climate and investment in a variety of sectors in the economy is the result of work across Government to improve the business environment, facilitate economic growth and create opportunities for job creation,” Hylton said.
Jampro President Diane Edwards is pleased that the country’s strides to promote its renewable energy strategy have been bearing fruit. She stated that following on the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce’s mandate, the agency has been campaigning for more investments in newer sectors to diversify Jamaica’s economy.
“We are seeing more interest in sectors such as energy and technology as the Government makes moves to improve the business atmosphere and the country’s readiness for investments. Jampro will monitor the progress of this and other projects closely as we try to bring more significant, sustainable investments to Jamaica,” she said.
CO-EXECUTIVE director of The Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI), Dr Christopher Tufton, will this week travel to Barbados to chair a workshop on Barbados’ country report on renewable energy options at the Caribbean Development Bank Conference Centre in St Michael.
With funding from the European Union (EU) under its Energy Facility II programme, CaPRI has been implementing the ‘Frameworks, Policies and Instruments for Mobilising Renewable Energy in the Caribbean’ project over the past two and a half years.
The overall objective of the project is to empower both the public and private sectors and other energy consumers in the Caribbean to make informed decisions on renewable energy investments, and to provide input to policymaking in order to create an enabling environment to accelerate such investment.
The workshop will present the country report which included analyses of renewable energy technology options as well as a number of tools aimed at the public and private sector, including:
*Technology assessment tool — an online calculator which will enable Caribbean businesses and energy consumers to size and cost renewable energy systems to meet their energy needs;
* Renewable energy financing database — a searchable database of local and international financing schemes to allow energy consumers, businesses and project developers to identify appropriate financing for their renewable energy projects, large and small;
* Policies and incentives database — a complete database of incentives available for renewable energy investments in the Caribbean;
*Cost benefit analysis tool.
According to Tufton, the workshop will also include a practical session using the cost benefit tool, and an opportunity for participants to provide feedback on its usefulness. So far CaPRI has presented country reports in Haiti, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, and Jamaica with Barbados and Guyana left.
This CaPRI EU programme is valued at approximately 500,000 Euros over four years and represents the most in-depth database on renewable energy in the Caribbean.
CaPRI is hopeful that this database will be used by policymakers, the private sector and the general public to increase the use of renewables in the region, Tufton said.
A new law recently passed in France mandates that all new buildings that are built in commercial zones in France must be partially covered in either plants or solar panels.
Green roofs, as they are called, have an isolating effect which helps to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building during the winter or cool it in the summer. They are capable of retaining rainwater and reducing problems with runoff, and also offer birds a place to call home in the urban jungle.
French environmental activists originally wanted to pass a law that would make the green roofs cover the entire surface of all new roofs.
However, partially covered roofs make for a great start, and are still a huge step in the right direction.
Some say the law that was passed is actually better, as it gives the business owners a chance to install solar panels to help provide the buildings with renewable energy, thereby leaving even less of a footprint.
Green roofs are already very popular in Germany and Australia, as well as Canada’s city of Toronto! This by-law was adopted in 2009, by the city of Toronto which mandated green roofs on all new industrial and residential buildings.
There are so many benefits to green roofs. Here are just a few:
France is definitely on the right track, but it should be a mandate that all new buildings being built in North America, and even worldwide, adopt this amazing idea to reap all of the potential benefits.
Solar power, even after the sun goes down? A new utility-scale solar project with battery storage will supply power to the island of Kauai, Hawaii in the evening hours of 5-10 p.m., helping to meet peak demand after sunset while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2016, SolarCity will construct a 17-megawatt photovoltaic solar array on 50 acres adjacent to an existing power plant owned by Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). The installation will include a 52-megawatt-hour battery system. SolarCity will sell power from the project to KIUC under a 20-year power-purchase agreement.
“The most interesting thing about this project is that it’s firm solar power,” said Peter Rive, founder and CTO of SolarCity. “That’s a new and important class of utility-scale solar power system. The batteries will store all the energy produced by the solar array, and then dispatch it to the grid as needed.”
Under the agreement, KIUC will purchase power for 14.5 cents per kilowatt-hour — considerably less than the utility currently pays for comparable diesel generator capacity. Furthermore, KIUC noted that this is “only slightly more than the cost of energy from KIUC’s two existing 12-megawatt solar arrays, whose output is available only during the day.”
Rive explained that KIUC will commit to drawing a certain amount of power from the battery, but that the utility will be billed only at the time it draws power.
“KIUC has been investigating energy storage options for more than two years, and price has always been the biggest challenge,” said David Bissell, president and CEO of KIUC. “This is a breakthrough project on technology and on price that enables us to move solar energy to the peak demand hours in the evening and reduce the amount of fossil fuel we’re using.”
The cost of battery storage has been dropping steadily in recent years, but it’s still fairly pricey. Hawaii has the nation’s highest power costs, so that improves the economics of large-scale battery storage there. But Rive notes, “SolarCity is not subsidizing the cost of this system. We’re making good enough money on this, and it’s also a good deal for KIUC.”
The clock is ticking, however. At the end of 2016, the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) drops from 30 percent to 10 percent. To qualify for the ITC, construction work must begin by April 2016 and the project must be producing power by December 31, 2016. KIUC has requested accelerated approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, and SolarCity confirmed that the battery storage system and solar array will be eligible for the credit.
Siting the solar project next to an existing KIUC power plant will greatly reduce the cost and complexity of grid interconnection, Rive said. “So much of the fixed gear is already there, and we won’t have to build long transmission lines.”
Serving a large amount of load from batteries is expected to provide power quality advantages, particularly frequency support. This can be a considerable benefit for a co-op that serves a widely dispersed and largely rural customer base.
The manufacturer of the battery has not yet been selected, but Rive says Tesla is a leading contender. “We think their technology is ahead of the pack for this kind of application.”
This is the second utility-scale solar project that SolarCity has built for KIUC. A year ago, the utility commenced operation of a 12-megawatt solar farm on Kauai, which supplies about 5 percent of the island’s annual electricity needs.
Utility-scale solar farms with battery storage might help Kauai avoid some of the problems that the neighboring island of Oahu has experienced due to the surge in rooftop solar deployment. Recently, the stability of Oahu’s distribution grid has been challenged by solar, as 13 percent of residents there have PV systems installed on their homes.