Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell said yesterday that he expects renewable energy to comprise 12.5 per cent of the national grid by the end of 2016.
The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has invited interested entities to submit proposals for the provision of new generating capacity from renewable energy sources up to 37 megawatts (MW) to the national grid.
Currently, six per cent of the national grid is supplied by renewables, and this is to increase with the addition of 78MW by March next year with the coming on stream of three new renewable projects.
The National Energy Policy has identified fuel diversification and the development of the country’s renewable energy sources as two of its main objectives. The policy sets a target of having 20 per cent of the country’s energy being generated from renewables by 2030.
“My own view now is that we should aim for 30 per cent. The 12.5 will be achieved next year and we will be the leading Caribbean country in terms of renewables,” Paulwell said.
Light and power provider, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), supplies consumers from an installed system capacity of approximately 945.1MW.
To date, the highest peak demand registered on the system was 644.4MW. In 2014, annual generation from renewable energy sources accounted for approximately six per cent of total system generation, with contributions of 2.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent from hydro and wind, respectively.
Meanwhile, Paulwell revealed that the net-billing arrangement is to be recommenced next month. The programme was suspended to undertake a review of the performance of the system and Paulwell said “all indications are that it has been doing very well and we, therefore, are going to resume”.
Net-billing is the system whereby the JPS buys excess power from its customers.
More than 300 net billing licences have so far been issued by the energy minister, and the suspension of the system was undertaken to evaluate its success.
“We have not achieved the original target to get to 4MW of electricity being generated by that means and also we have not seen any degradation of the grid as a result,” Paulwell said.
But while the Government gets set to resume the net-billing arrangements, JPS has said that the regulatory authorities must institute a special cost system for persons who generate most of their own energy through renewable energy but are still dependent on the grid.
“If you come on for one hour, I have to do the same exact generation that I have to do if you are on for one day,” Kelly Tomblin, JPS president and CEO, told The Gleaner.
But Paulwell, responding to that charge, said “that is an argument that the OUR will have to address. Our policy is to encourage more and more renewables at the individual level.”
THE Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) will this Friday host a pre-bid meeting to provide further information on its recent Request for Proposals (RFPs) from interested entities, to provide new Generating Capacity from renewable energy sources.
The meeting will take place at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel and interested entities are urged to attend to get more information on this project, and get clarifications where needed.
Applicants are invited to submit proposals to provide new generating capacity amounting to net 37 megawatts (MW) of electricity generation from either or both firm capacity and energy-only technology from renewable energy-based power generation facilities on a build, own and operate basis. The submission date for applications is January 27, 2016.
The OUR issued its latest RFP on July 31, 2015, as it moves to conclude a project started in 2012 to identify a total of 115 MW of generation projects from renewable sources.
Three bidders were selected then, for energy only projects totalling 78MW. They are Blue Mountain Renewables LLC, to supply 34MW of capacity from wind power at Munro, St Elizabeth; Wigton Windfarm Limited, to supply 24MW of capacity from wind power at Rose Hill, Manchester; and WRB Enterprises Inc (now Content Solar), to supply 20MW of capacity from Solar PV from facilities in Content Village, Clarendon. The 78 MW identified through these three suppliers was subsequently increased to 80.3 MW.
The OUR was requested by Cabinet to complete the procurement of the additional 37MW from renewable energy sources. The details of the RFP has been posted on the OUR’s website.
Google Maps is already one of the most popular apps used on on smartphones thanks to its sophisticated navigation powers. But Google has figured out an even cooler use for the service and it that doesn’t even involve getting directions – meet Google’s brand new Project Sunroof.
Using the immense map data that’s behind Google Maps, the company’s new Google Maps feature will help you decide the best way to install solar panels on your roof. What Google can do for you is use the knowledge it collects about your home’s location to tell you how much sunlight you’re getting each day, how much electricity that can generate and how much it’ll cost you to install the solar panels.
Basically, Google’s service will be ready to answer some of your most pressing questions related to installing solar panels on your roof. So all you need to do is jot down the data and get ready to invest in solar panels for your roof. We should note, of course, that solar power might not be a good investment for everyone so make sure installing them will be financially worthwhile before making the switch.
Project Sunroof will debut in Boston, San Francisco and Fresno, but should expand to other markets in the future. A video explaining the cool Google Maps tech behind it follows below – more details about the project are available on Google’s special site for it at this link.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced $63 million in loans and grants for 264 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide.
USDA is supporting these projects through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which was created by the 2008 farm bill and was reauthorized by the2014 farm bill.
These newly funded projects are expected to generate and/or save 207.8 million kWh of energy – enough to power more than 13,600 homes for a year.
“This funding will have far-reaching economic and environmental impacts nationwide, particularly in rural communities,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects supports homegrown energy sources, creates jobs, reduces greenhouse gas pollution and helps usher in a more secure energy future for the nation.”
Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen and geothermal.
Since the start of the Obama administration, USDA has supported more than 9,600 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide through REAP.
The next application deadline for REAP grants is Nov. 2. In the coming weeks, USDA will issue a notice of available funding with more details on how to apply.
Throughout the entire first half of 2015, solar and wind energy accounted for 2,518 megawatts of new electricity generating capacity brought online in the US— some 65 percent of all new capacity added so far this year.
Coal accounted for a mere 3 MW during that time period, while natural gas accounted for 1,173 MW (there was no new oil). That’s less than half the amount of solar and wind energy added January to June. Wind alone, at 1,969 MW, was more than all fossil fuels combined.
Here are the full numbers from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest Energy Infrastructure Update:
“With Congress now debating whether to extend the federal tax incentives for renewable energy sources, it is reasonable to ask whether the American public has gotten a good return on these investments to date,” Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, said in response to the update. “The latest FERC data confirms that the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’”
Despite the tangible economic and environmental benefits of their huge growth in recent years, the US solar and wind industries are still facing a looming threat due to uncertainty over federal tax incentives.
The Senate Finance Committee just approved a tax bill that would reinstate the wind production tax credit (PTC), which expired on January 1, 2014 after Senate Republicans basically killed it. ThinkProgress reports the renewed tax credit would be worth $10.5 billion over 10 years and would last through December 31, 2016.
Fossil fuels are estimated to receive $135 billion in federal subsidies over the next decade from the US government, so it’s understandable that investors are weary of the long-term prospects of wind and solar, which, despite on-again, off-again support from the federal government, still must fight for every bit of market share they can get.
The two renewable energy technologies combined still only represent less than eight percent of total installed capacity in the US, after all, compared to natural gas at 42.66 percent and coal still hanging on at 26.83 percent, per the FERC data.
Which is why environmentalists and wind energy supporters want Congress to go further by adopting a more long-term solution.
“Wind power is gaining strength but in the context of tax extenders, this Congress must extend the PTC and [the investment tax credit] for the longest possible time to avoid pushing American wind power off a cliff,” the American Wind Energy Association’s Jim Reilly told ThinkProgress.
The solar industry is expecting a surge in business as a variety of investment tax credits are set to expire at the end of 2016. Without any further action from Congress to promote the clean energy technologies of the future, however, the surge is guaranteed not to last.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, through the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) is set to introduce the use of solar power to operate the pumping of water for irrigation.
Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Derrick Kellier says the move will commence shortly with the commissioning into operation of solar power to operate the pumping system at Ebony Park in Clarendon.
In September a $300 million irrigation project will be launched at Spring Plain/Ebony Park bringing the nearly 3,000-acre property at the agro-park into full production.
Kellier, who was speaking at the 63rd Annual Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon on Saturday, August 1, said that if Jamaica is to increase its production and productivity and ensure its food security, irrigation systems needed to be significantly improved and expanded.
Noting that the total irrigable land in Jamaica is 187,814 hectares yet only 12,500 hectares or about seven per cent of that land is irrigated, Kellier outlined a number of strategies intended to optimise and expand the country’s irrigation systems.
The imperative to optimise and expand the country’s irrigation systems is not born solely from the scarcity of water, but from the imperative to increase productivity and Jamaica may very well reach the stage where fiscal incentives for investment in irrigation had to be provided, Kellier said.
The agriculture ministry was therefore preparing a comprehensive proposal to be discussed with the appropriate authority, he added.
“I believe we have no alternative since these droughts are the greatest threat to increased production,” said Kellier.
According to the ministry, in addition to various climate-smart and drought mitigation projects, over $5 billion has been spent over the past 10 years to install new irrigation systems to ensure sustainable agriculture and the reduction of dependence on rainfall.
Hundreds of businesses including eBay, Nestlé and General Mills have issued their support for Barack Obama’s clean power plan, billed as the strongest action ever on climate change by a US president.
The rules, announced on Monday, are designed to cut emissions from power plants and have been strengthened in terms of the long-term ambition as originally proposed by the president last year, but slightly weakened in the short-term in a concession to states reliant on highly-polluting coal.
White House adviser Brian Deese said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules represented the “biggest step that any single president has made to curb the carbon pollution that is fuelling climate change”. The US is the world’s second biggest carbon emitter after China.
The rules are expected to trigger a “tsunami” of legal opposition from states and utilities who oppose the plans, which will significantly boost wind and solar power generation and force a switch away from coal power. Republican presidential hopefuls moved quickly to voice their opposition, saying they would be economically damaging.
But 365 businesses and investors wrote to 29 state governors to strongly support the rules, which they said would benefit the economy and create jobs.
Mindy Lubber, who is attending the launch ceremony of the rules on Monday and is the president of Ceres, a network of investors that organised the letter, said: “The clean power plan is the right measure at the right time. It’s a flexible, practical and economically sound blueprint to transition America toward a low-carbon future.”
Other signatories included Unilever, L’Oréal, Levi Strauss, Staples, renewable energy company SunEdison and Trillium Asset Management, which manages $2.2bn in assets. It is the largest group of businesses to support the rules so far.
The final rules propose a 32% cut in carbon emissions from power plants by 2030 on 2005 levels, up from the initial proposal of 30%. However states will only have to comply by 2022 rather than 2020 as originally proposed, and will be able submit their plans on meeting the targets by 2018 instead of 2017.
CO2 emissions from power plants fell 15% between 2005 and 2013, meaning the country is halfway to the target.
Monday’s version of the rules also gives an explicit boost to wind and solar power, angering the natural gas industry which will still be a large beneficiary of the switch from coal to gas-fired power plants, which produce much lower emissions.
America’s Natural Gas Alliance, a trade body, said it was “disappointed and discouraged” by the rules. The World Coal Association claimed the plan “will significantly increase the cost of electricity to American consumers.” The Solar Energy Industries Association, on the other hand, said the rules were “historic” and “critically needed”.
The new rules will give a “give a head start to wind and solar deployment”, according to a White House fact sheet. “Drive more aggressive investment in clean energy technologies than the proposed rule, resulting in 30% more renewable energy generation in 2030 and continuing to lower the costs of renewable energy,” it said.
Barack Obama, in a video address, emphasised the health benefits of reduced air pollution from coal plants, and a duty to future generations as reasons for the clean power rules.
“Power plants are the single biggest source of the harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change. But until now there have been no federal limits on the amount of that pollution those plants can dump into the air. Think about that,” he said.
Obama’s plan to bring in the rules to cut emissions from power plants – which account for a third of the US’s greenhouse gas emissions – date back to 2009 when the EPA declared carbon emissions a public danger, the first step towards regulating them.
The final rules are likely to be welcomed by the United Nations, which is hosting a climate summit in Paris at the end of the year to agree on a deal on post-2020 curbs on emissions, as well as financing to help poorer countries manage global warming. Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, issued a statement welcoming the regulations.
Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the Washington DC-based thinktank the World Resources Institute, said: “The clean power plan should reassure international partners that the US administration is determined to deliver the 26-28% emissions reductions promised for 2025.
“Our analysis suggests that this rule can be implemented without technical or financial impediment, and in a manner that is likely to promote more, not less, economic prosperity.”
Describing the rules as very important, Lord Stern, the author of an influential review of the economics of climate change, said: “It shows the determination of the world’s richest country to maintain better economic growth while also cutting greenhouse gas pollution. President Obama has recognised in particular the enormous damage caused by pollution from the burning of coal in power stations.”
Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s administrator, said she believed the agency was on strong legal grounds for defending the rules from the legal challenges they are almost certain to face.
“Over the next few days we will hear the same tired old plays from the old special interests playbook,” said McCarthy.
Hillary Clinton’s newest campaign promise to install half a billion solar panels across the country has been praised by liberal media outlets and environmentalists, but could this pledge end up benefiting China?
On Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promised to install half a billion solar panels by the end of her first term and get the U.S. to a point where it can generate enough green energy to power every home in the country.
“Through these goals, we will increase the amount of installed solar capacity by 700% by 2020, expand renewable energy to at least a third of all electricity generation, prevent thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of asthma attacks each year, and put our country on a path to achieve deep emission reductions by 2050,” Clinton’s website boasts.
While there’s no doubt U.S. companies and green energy interests would benefit from the “competitive grants and other market-based incentives” Hillary promises to implement under her plan, the deal will also be a boost to the oppressive Chinese government.
“Mrs. Clinton’s plan would be a huge boost to China and Taiwan, where over 70 percent of solar photovoltaics are made,” Daniel Kish, senior vice president of policy at the Institute for Energy research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It’s also a huge boon to Japan and Malaysia, who make the lion’s share of the remaining world production,” Kish said. “I’m not sure Americans are going to be comfortable with Chinese solar panels covering their houses, plugging into their electricity systems and taking their jobs as official government policy.”
Thanks to government subsidies, China is the world’s largest producer of solar panels, and could see huge benefits from increasing solar energy incentives in the U.S. A 2014 report by the European Commission found that “China and Taiwan together now account for more than 70% of worldwide production.”
“The majority of panels [in the U.S.] are manufactured abroad, with the plurality coming from China and many from other Southeast Asian countries and Korea,” a spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association told TheDCNF. “The imposition of tariffs on Chinese panels is beginning to have an effect on Chinese imports, however, and we’ve seen domestic production increase over the past six months as Chinese imports decline.”
China’s government heavily backed solar panel companies in the past few years to build solar panels for export to the U.S. and Europe. Chinese solar production boomed in response to increasing attempts by the Obama administration and European countries to increase solar energy use. Now seven in 10 solar panels in the world are made in China.
“U.S.-based module production is currently limited to about 1 GW in practice,” Finlay Colville, vice president at the solar research firm NPD Solarbuzz, told Salon in 2014. “This represented just 2.5 percent of global demand in 2013.”
About “half of the panels used in the U.S. last year came from China,” Salon reported, adding that “U.S. module production fell from 1,200 megawatts in 2011 to 541 megawatts in 2012 and bounced back up to 988 megawatts in 2013.” Chinese imports are projected to continue their decline due to steep tariffs the Obama administration put on Chinese solar panels.
It’s not just Chinese companies that would benefit, as Kish noted: Japanese and Malaysian companies are also manufacturing lots of panels. In fact, the increase in Malaysian solar panel production could largely be from Chinese companies building factories there to get around U.S. tariffs.
Chinese companies are finding ways around the U.S. tariffs, mainly by producing panels in other countries. Bloomberg News reports that “more than half the panel capacity Chinese producers plan to add overseas is in Southeast Asia.”
Solar energy giant JinkoSolar opened a massive solar panel factory with the capacity to make “500 megawatts of solar cells and 450 megawatts of panels a year.”
“Products from our Malaysian plant will be mainly exported to the U.S., but we’re eyeing global demand,” Sebastian Liu, JinkoSolar’s director of investor relations, told Bloomberg. “This isn’t temporary. JinkoSolar wants global manufacturing to avoid the risks posed by a single production location.”
Going forward, U.S. officials could expand tariffs against Chinese companies using other countries as launching points for solar panel exports. This would force solar installation companies to rely more on U.S. panel makers, but would also likely raise solar energy costs.
Clinton would have to increase subsidies for solar energy to get the 700 percent increase she promises, which will be made more difficult if tariffs make solar panels more expensive. The U.S. solar industry could still benefit from Clinton’s plan, but solar panel installers have complained that tariffs are already making panels more expensive and, therefore, less attractive to consumers.
“Keeping these stiff tariffs in place makes solar power less affordable, slows job growth and prevents more American homes, businesses and utilities from switching to clean solar energy,” Jigar Shah, president of the anti-tariff Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, said in a statement on the Obama administration’s refusal to lower tariffs on Chinese panels.
“Despite booming solar employment, economically counterproductive tariffs have artificially made solar panels prices in the United States the most expensive in the world,” Shah said.
FORMER United States President Bill Clinton’s Foundation is working with a Jamaican entity, Wigton Windfarm, to promote greater use of wind and solar energy here, as part of a wider effort to force down exorbitant energy costs in island nations.
The Climate Change Initiative (CCI) and its companion Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room (RMICWR) — both of which operate under the Foundation — believe that Jamaica could become more independent of the more costly traditional energy sources by reducing energy costs through renewable energy.
“This high cost puts stress on the Government by increasing the trade imbalance and discouraging foreign investment, as well as on individual households who have to pay high prices for the power they receive,” the CCI said in an article written exclusively for the Jamaica Observer and published on page 14 of today’s edition.
(See Bill Clinton Foundation pushing renewable energy for Jamaica) The CCI pointed to new initiatives in Jamaica which are addressing renewable energy transitions from a variety of angles, including the Wigton Windfarm which uses wind to generate electricity and which has recently expanded its energy capacity to 38.7 megawatts.
CCI also said it was working on innovative solar PV programmes in Jamaica. “Jamaica can significantly reduce energy costs by becoming more independent, which will benefit the country as a whole… These projects are a great first step in transitioning to sustainable energy systems, but more work can be done,” it said.
The Clinton Foundation suggested that there was a link between climate change and energy, and that the threats of rising sea levels, freak weather patterns, and dying ecosystems had become part of the daily conversation, yet the international response was yet to catch up.
But it praised island nations like Jamaica for having taken “admirable steps towards transitioning to renewable energy”. “Island nations like Jamaica will benefit economically if there is a systematic transition away from traditional sources of energy.
Because of their dependence on importing diesel and petroleum, these nations are susceptible to global market fluctuations and have to pay high premiums on transport of fuel. For instance, the price of energy for some island nations has reached almost 500 per cent the typical US average.
In Jamaica, 11.46 per cent of the country’s GDP is spent on energy. “Compared with non-island nations, whose energy expenditure only represents a small percentage of GDP, this high price causes a significant economic burden for the people of Jamaica and their families,” CCI said.
The Jamaica Solar Energy Association says there is need for critical evaluation of the barriers which resulted in what it says was an anaemic response to net billing during the trial period which ended this month.
Net billing allows renewable energy producers to sell excess power to the national grid.
According to the association the net billing policy was a good one and therefore there is need for evaluation of the reasons the offer was not taken up by more players in the renewable energy market.
The association says it has provided substantial recommendations for improvement of the next phase of net billing.
It says these include simplifying the process and improving programme coordination and removing onerous and unnecessary prerequisites for obtaining a standard offer contract with the Jamaica Public Service Company.
The solar energy association says the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) should increase the generation capacity, especially for commercial entities and reduce the cost barriers.
The association is urging the OUR to implement these recommendations within the next few months.
Meanwhile, the association says commercial enterprises also await the implementation of power wheeling.
It is calling for the inclusion of renewables in this initiative.