Jamaica’s First Utility-Scale Solar PV Farm

In 2013, WBR Enterprises Inc. was selected by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) via a competitive bidding process to develop a 20 Megawatts (MW) solar farm – the island’s utility-scale solar project. The project was the third lowest bid received, in response to the OUR’s request to supply 115 MW of renewable generation, with a proposed price of US$0.1880 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to deliver renewable energy to the national grid.

dsc_0960-300x1241 On September 18, 2014, WBR subsidiary, Content Solar Ltd., signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to sell the full output of its solar farm to the grid.

The 154 acres solar farm, coined Solar Content, subsequently broke ground in Content Village, York Town, Clarendon on July 9, 2015. The $63 million (US) project was financed in part by a $47 million debt agreement with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the U.S. Government’s Development Finance Institution for the development. Sponsor equity was provided by WRB Serra, a strategic partner of WRB Enterprises and WRB Energy focused on sustainable infrastructure investments in the Caribbean and Latin America.  The Content Solar plant is the second OPIC-financed project in support of the U.S. Caribbean Energy Security Initiative.image0031

It is worthy of noting here that, the Content Solar plant is the second OPIC-financed project in support of the U.S. Caribbean Energy Security Initiative. The first being the blue mountain renewable (BMR) 36MW Wind Farm also located in Jamaica.

And in a historic move on August 28, 2016, the Content Solar farm was launched into commercial operations as Jamaica’s first utility-scale solar PV plant.  The plant which boasts 97,000 solar panels will power more than 20,000 households over the next 20 years under the PPA with JPS.

According to the Jamaica’s National Energy Policy 2009-2030, the country is looking to significantly increase investments in renewable energy technologies. The country has targeted at least 20% contribution towards the energy mix from renewable energy sources by 2030. The content solar farm pushes Jamaica’s installed renewable capacity to approximately 152 MW or 14.8%.

Jamaica second utility-scale solar project, the Eight Rivers 33 MW solar farm, is currently ongoing and is estimated to be put into commercial operation by the end of 2018. The commissioning of Eight Rivers project will see jamaica’s renewable energy mix at 17.5%. The planned 190 MW LNG power plant in Old Harbour Bay, St Catherine, which is expected to be completed in early 2019, will change this mix.

These are certainly exciting times in Jamaica’s electricity market environment as they seek to lower the cost of electric energy in a bid to improve the country’s socio-economic conditions.

Jamaica Surpasses 100 MW of Installed Wind Power

Jamaica recently connects two new wind farms (Wigton III and BMR) to its electricity grid of combined capacity of 60 megawatts (MW).  This pushes the paradise Island beyond the 100 MW mark to a total installed capacity of 102 MW.

The Wigton III Wind Farmcarosel-3Wigton III is a 24 MW wind farm owned and operated by Wigton Windfarm Ltd (WWFL) – a wholly owned subsidiary of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ). WWFL also own and operate two other farms – Wigton I and II rated at 20.7 and 18 MW respectively. The new facility consists of twelve G80-2.0 MW wind turbines, a 9.6 km 69 kilovolts (kV) transmission line, and a new substation constructed by the Spanish firm Gamesa.

It is expected to reduce the national oil consumption by an additional 37,100 barrels per year, which can save the country more than JA$230 million annually, adding to the more than JA$3 billion saved by the country in the past 11 years through the operations of Wigton I and Wigton II, commissioned in 2004 and 2010, respectively. The expansion has brought Wigton’s total capacity to 62.7 MW, retaining its position as the largest wind energy facility in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean.

The BMR Wind Farm

The BMR (Blue Mountain Renewable) is also a new wind farm, rated at 36.3 MW. It consists of eleven V112-3.3 MW wind turbines, a 18 km 69 kV transmission line and a substation constructed by dutch firm Vestas. The US$90 million project is the single largest private sector investment in renewable energy undertake to date in the Island. BMR will sell electric energy to the grid operator (JPS) at US12.9 cents per kilowatt-hour in accordance with their 20 years power purchase agreement.

Bottom Line

These two wind farm projects were selected as the lowest-price projects among 28 proposals offered in response to the OUR’s Request for Proposals (RFP) for the addition of 115 MW of renewable energy power generation capacity in 2012. Given that Jamaica has now gained a decent track record of successfully commissioning wind projects. Then it is expected that at least two such wind farms should come online by the end of 2018.

This is especially, in light of the recent announcement by the Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, during the 2016/17 Sectoral Debate that the Government will soon be advertising an RFP for the supply of an additional 100 MW of renewable energy.

 

XenogyRE Writes to the OUR on 37MW Project Selection

Director, Consumer & Public Affairs
Office of Utilities Regulation
36 Trafalgar Road,
Kingston 10,
3rdFloor PCJ Resource Center

Dear Mrs. Grinam Nicholson,

Firstly, we would like to congratulate your organization for having successfully completed the most recent round of the initial request for 115 MW of renewable generating capacity.

Secondly, we would like to query the following:

1. On the 27th of January 2016 the OUR reported to have received a total of 17 bids in a media release titled: “OUR GETS 17 RENEWABLE ENERGY BIDS”. However, in the final media release on 9th May 2016 the OUR contradicts this by stating that it had received a total of 19 bits.

2. We also noted from the media release on the 27th January 2016 that Eight Rivers Energy Company Ltd submitted two (2) bids for solar PV (one for a 37MW and an alternative for 21MW). However, we also noted that the 33.1 MW Solar PV project they are selected to provide was not listed as one of the bids received  in the media release on the 27th of January 2016.

3. What prevented the OUR from achieving the intended 37 MW of renewable energy capacity, given that over 300 MW of primary project proposals were reportedly received. And why no mention was made of how the OUR plans to achieve the remaining 4.9 MW. This is of concern because it is a large short fall – by comparison this size capacity is greater than the JPS owned wind farm in St. Elizabeth and all but two of the Island’s nine hydro plants.

As concerned citizens we anxiously await your response to the issues raised above. Below, I have taken the liberty of including the links to the two media releases to which I refer to above.

1. OUR’s media release on 27th January 2016: http://www.our.org.jm/ourweb/sites/default/files/documents/news/media_release_-_37_mw_rfp_bid_opening_-_2016_jan_29.pdf

2. OUR’s media release on 9th May 2016: http://www.our.org.jm/ourweb/sites/default/files/documents/news/final_media_release_our_selects_preferred_bidder_in_response_to_

37mw_renewable_energy_project_002.pdf

A copy of this email will be posted on our blog page @ www.xenogyre.com.

Best Regards,

Courtney Powell
Founder & Chief in Editor

Renewable Energy Blog

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