Spain funds solar energy study for Jamaican schools

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Jamaica has received a €100,000 (US$140,802) grant from the government of Spain to carry out a feasibility study for the introduction of solar energy systems in 34 public schools across the nation.

The project, which will allow for the introduction of best practices in the energy sector of the nation, while helping to substantially reduce the energy bill of the schools, was funded through the Spanish Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Education Minister Andrew Holness said as soon as the study is undertaken, the findings will be implemented as the “first step in moving towards … all schools having some form of alternative energy system”.

Holness said the project would provide a viable alternative to carbon-based energy and reduce the cost of electricity to schools, which amounts to J$500 million (US$5.6 million) each year. He also said a number of schools have been using renewable energy in their day-to-day operations, citing a wind turbine project at one school and a “very sophisticated solar system” at another, which is saving them approximately 20 per cent of their electricity costs.

Minister of Energy James Robertson commended the project as a major step towards the use of solar as an alternative energy source.

In noting the importance of the project, Spain’s ambassador, Jesus Silva, said: “If we teach the young Jamaicans in schools that there are other ways of producing energy we are teaching them one of the most important lessons that we can teach to the next generation.”

Silva said Spain is currently one of the world’s leading countries in the production of energy renewable sources, with energy needs being met from wind, solar or hydro. In 2008, Spain was the leading European country in the production of solar energy.

The initial feasibility study will include information on a structural building analysis to identify and assess the most suitable areas for the installation of solar energy systems in schools and analysis of solar energy systems to determine the best structure for each school.

It will also include economic and financial analyses and calculation of the initial cost of the investment of each solar system, the return on investment for a maximum of 15 years, and the annual saving on the electricity bill by the introduction of these systems.

The initial study will be undertaken by Kingston-based Cala Telcom Services. (JIS) 

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