Almost a month ago, the Jamaica Energy Council met to discuss the country’s crippling reliance on imported fuel. Chaired by the Minister of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, the bi-partisan meeting discussed how annual spending on foreign oil had increased from $800 million to $2.7 billion in a span of 5 years.
Worse still, crude oil prices are expected to exceed $140 a barrel before the end of the year. Minister Paulwell attributed increasing electricity costs to his country’s low economic growth. At an average of $0.42/kWh, Jamaica has some of the most expensive energy in the region.
It is unlikely that Jamaica will find huge oil reserves on its sandy shores, and geothermal technology is probably not a option the island nation can explore. Jamaica does have a fair amount of wind, but it’s intermittent and unreliable.
This leaves solar energy as the most promising technology to lead Jamaica out of its current energy and economic crises.
There’s a big problem, however.
Jamaica doesn’t have the infrastructure to harness solar energy. There are only a handful of installers, zero licensed solar power courses, and few government policies to support long-term growth in Jamaica.
But Jamaica does have one major advantage. It has an abundance of sun – far more than Germany, Ontario, or Japan – regions that have successfully harnessed solar energy with remarkable results.
Solar Energy Education on the Rise in Jamaica
Despite the relative lack of solar power courses and green incentives in Jamaica, ordinary citizens across the country are taking matters into their own hands.
For starters, solar energy is already near or at grid parity in Jamaica, largely because electricity prices are so high and solar PV prices are becoming so low. Homeowners and businesses all over Jamaica are beginning to explore their solar options in much greater numbers.
But what good is buying a system if there’s no one around to install it?
A few years ago, this was very much the case.
Times are changing, and US Solar Institute is proud to be a part of this change.
In the past year, the number of Jamaican students interested in solar energy education has skyrocketed. In some months, we actually have more students from the Caribbean than from Florida, despite the fact that those from the Bahamas and Jamaica have the added cost of flights and hotels.
If you live in Jamaica and have an interest in launching a career in solar PV installation, I invite you to check out US Solar Institute. Join the growing movement of dedicated individuals who secure their training in the States and take their skills back to help build a cleaner and more affordable future for Jamaica.
Let us know how we can help.