Thu | Aug 18, 2022

Letter of the Day | Cost of renewables is not prohibitive

Published:Saturday | May 21, 2022 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

We are writing with reference to the articles published in The Gleaner, ‘Green energy cost dilemma’, on March 18, and ‘LNG still to power $14b JPS Hunts Bay plant amid energy crisis and cooling concerns’, on April 1. These articles focused on the energy landscape in Jamaica and we note with alarm the propagation of misleading claims that renewable energy is more expensive to install than fossil fuel capacity.

As responsible renewable energy professionals involved in the development of large-scale renewable energy infrastructure, we believe that it is important to set the record straight.

The facts are as follows:

• It costs less to install renewable energy capacity (on a cost per watt basis) than it does to install fossil fuel capacity.

• Renewable energy does not require the purchase or use of oil or gas, further reducing its cost relative to fossil fuel capacity.

• This lower installation cost and zero fuel cost will result in savings to the utility customer.

• Renewable energy payments by the utility to the renewable independent power provider are only made when renewable energy is delivered. This is not true of fossil plants, which get paid a capacity charge whether they deliver any electricity or not.

It is important that the facts be understood by all energy users and policymakers, because decisions made now have far-reaching effects on the price of electricity in Jamaica for years to come. It is disappointing that local experts have remained silent and allowed this misinformation to take root.

IMPACT

The electricity industry is an important one – its costs impact every person, family, small business and major industry in Jamaica. It affects the quality of life that residents can enjoy, the competitiveness of companies involved in manufacturing and our ability to install systems to ensure the safety of our citizens.

Right now, we spend far more than necessary on providing electricity, which means less to allocate toward initiatives that enhance the quality of life of our citizens, and less for energy users to spend elsewhere.

Installing any unneeded oil or gas-fuelled generation plant will only result in exacerbating the burden of these high electricity costs for everyone. What we need is more renewable energy capacity, which will reduce the use of expensive oil and gas and reduce the electricity cost, especially because of fossil-fuelled plants that will rarely operate.

We trust that our input will lead to greater clarity on the impact of timing of new or replacement capacity to the grid, as well as the beneficial impact that installing renewables will have on the cost of electricity.

AVA TOMLIN

Regional Director

BMR Jamaica Wind Limited