Digicel Jamaica’s Alternative Energy Future – Increased Electricity Bills and Energy Sector Opportunities collide

Digicel is also slated to move out of the RKA Building in New Kingston, which they do not own, but have been renting since 2001AD. Their new Solar and Wind powered complex on the WaterFront in Downtown Kingston puts them closer to the people whose love had nourished their financial bottomline as well as made them endeared to the public as the “Bigger Better Network” in terms of Voice Calling.

Digicel CEO Mark Linehan  had made this bit of news public in September 2011AD at the UDC (Urban Development Corporation) forum, entitled “Redevelopment of Downtown Kingston: Investment Opportunities and Challenges”.

The Jamaica Gleaner, who reported on his utterances, gave no date for this official move downtown, save for their re-entry into the Downtown area being a re-invigoration of that very historic part of Kingston. In his speech Digicel CEO Mark Linehan mentions the following bits of information about the new Solar and Wind powered Digicel headquarters, quote: “This development will span a total area of 211,500 square feet and will make use of Solar power, Solar cooling and Wind power. The Building will feature four Wind Turbines on the roof of the 11-storey tower, and 15,000 square feet of Solar Panels and Solar glass on the roofs of all three Buildings.”

The Digicel Project, which had been slated for a June – July 2011AD completion date was completed three (3) months behind schedule. Thus these additions of Wind Turbines and Solar Panels to Digicel’s new Corporate Headquarters means that their state-of-the-art facility, literally the greenest building in the Caribbean, won’t be occupied until Christmas 2011AD. Just in time for London 2012 Olympics on July 27th 2012AD!

Such a huge investment in Solar Panels and Wind Turbines, at so late a stage in the construction of the Building, suggests that this is an add-on, as opposed to an intended design as it was not a part of their original AS-BUILT plans for the Building from 2010AD.

It also implies that Digicel may be hurting financially as albeit its investments in Cloud Computing will make a profit in the long term, its short term high Electricity usage for its nearly 1,600 cell sites means that cutting their Electricity bill any way they can is a priority, the real reason for going Green on such a massive scale.

Digicel, like any other business in Jamaica, is heavily affected by electricity costs associated with:

  • Refrigeration and Cooling problems for its Ericsson Node B’s and RBS (Radio Base Stations)
  • Electricity Theft at their Cell Sites

Refrigeration and Cooling costs account for 60% of the running of any household according to Dr. Michael Taylor, Climatologist and Head of the Department of Physics, Pure and Applied Sciences, University of the West Indies at the Energy Conference 2011 on Monday September 19th 2011AD.

Dr. Taylor, who was a guest speaker at the Energy Conference 2011 is a joint talk shop sponsored by the University of the West Indies, the Department of Engineering from the University of Technology and the JIE (Jamaica Institute of Engineers), had pointed out in a series of debates that, quote: “We depend on the cool nights to save our Energy. We might be running [refrigeration and Cooling units] at night”.

So the obvious becomes clear.

Digicel’s new headquarters is not a new usage of Green Energy as a marketing tool as suggested by Digicel CEO Mark Linehan at the UDC (Urban Development Corporation) in September 2011AD. Rather, Digicel is aware they can do nothing about the conditions of the swap of CLARO Jamaica for Digicel El Salvador and  Digicel Honduras as explained in America Movil – Digicel Jamaica swap is Final.

Digicel, much as with their Cloud Storage, Telephony and Wireless Broadband Push is a long term bet on Data as Voice Services wane, are taking drastic measures to brace themselves against a coming Utility Bill increases as per the assertion of Dr. Michael Taylor  by going Green.

And via this fora, I am willing to predict Digicel will expand this concept of using Solar and Wind Turbines to their other Cell Sites (including those of recently acquired CLARO Jamaica!!) to reduce their steadily ballooning Electricity costs after a thorough testing using their New Corporate Headquarters in Petula Clarke’s Downtown with their gung-ho employees as the Guinea Pigs.

This due not just to the unpredictable Energy Future Markets which affects the price of Oil and Energy in Jamaica from our sole Electricity Provider, JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service Company) or just Digicel’s acquisition of CLARO Jamaica, but the coming of Peak Oil in 2015AD!!

Spoken here first and nowhere else, folks!! Digicel Cell sites with Solar Panels and Wind Turbines powering:

  • RAN (Radio Access Network)
  • RBS (Radio Base Stations)
  • Ericsson Node B’s
  • Huawei Node B’s
  • ZTE WiMax RBS Cabinets for WiMaX
  • Ericsson LTE Cabinets (they have plans to go LTE by 2014AD)

This is now following on the footsteps of the Jamaican Government’s move towards Renewable Energy with their Jamaica Institution of Engineers’ (JIE) award winning Wigton Wind Farm Phase II Project expansions valued at US$47.5, an accolade PCJ (Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica) gained for their pet project in November 2011AD. The Wigton Wind Farm, constructed in 2004AD, another GOJ initiative, is currently saving Jamaica approximately JA$229 million in fuel purchases every five (5) months.

These facts along with the JIE (Jamaica Institute of Engineers) sponsored words of Dr. Michael Taylor that may eventually sway Digicel to go full Alternative Energy in all of its operations as they turn over a new Leaf with CLARO Jamaica in tow.

On a slightly different note folks, it looks like I may have to do an article on Alternative Energy and JPS Co after all for the Geezam blog coming next year. This as with GOJ bids opening up in December 2011 for LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) and Hydroelectric Energy, Digicel may soon spin about to capitalize on recent changes in the Energy Sector that point strongly towards Energy Sector Liberalization and the coming of increased investment in Alternative Energy as announced by Minister of Energy and Mining Clive Mullings in October 2011 as it relates to:

  • Net Billing
  • Power Wheeling
  • An increase on the cap on the amount of Electricity allowed to be generated by PUC (Power Utility Companies) via Alternative Energy sources and sold to the JPS Co from 10MW to 15MW.

Digicel the Bigger, Better Alternative Energy Company?

Stay tuned to Geezam.com in the 2012AD for more exciting news on Alternative Energy as Digicel goes Green!!!

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.