Solamon Energy Corporation to build Caribbean’s Largest Solar Plant – Jamaica to get a Green Energy Boost

Folks, looks like I spoke to soon yet again! In my earlier this year entitled Digicel Jamaica’s Alternative Energy Future – Increased Electricity Bills and Energy Sector Opportunities collide I predicted that Digicel would go into Alternative Energy as they were already holders of the title of “Greenest Building in the Caribbean”.

Alas, it appears that all Digicel was really interested in was to grab CLARO Jamaica’s spectrum and HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) License and as-yet-to-be-paid-for Huawei 3G Infrastructure so as to launch their HSDPA+ Network, an issue to be explored in depth in another Geezam article. Flight of fantasy: Digicel may STILL want to get into the PPV game as a PUC (Power Utility Company) but via an installation of the Equipment at your house and you pay a flat rate Electricity bill after this gets published!

But on to the big news!

Jamaica may soon be the staging ground for an Alternative Energy Sector Revolution that is sure to attract a lot of ICT and Technology companies to Jamaica. This thanks to cheaper Energy from a Solar Power Plant initiative by a Canadian company called Solamon Energy Corporation.

The words of Ainsley Brown CEO of Solamon Energy Corporation makes me feel very good as a Telecoms Technician with an interest in Generators, quote: “In order to implement a solution of this magnitude sites, several parishes are being considered as future homes of one of three 50-acre plots that when conjoined will provide the Jamaican people with 60MW of clean electricity”

May I suggest Clarendon, Manchester and St. Catherine?

He’s got more to say that reveals the scale and magnitude of this massive Engineering project, quote: “This programme represents a comprehensive approach to renewable energy development, energy diversification, job creation and training for the 21st century. Its success will necessitate a level-headed and like-minded approach at the table, as we are offering to tackle and deal with all elements of risk cooperatively and openly examine the implications of carbon credits, fuel or foreign exchange savings, in order to share the greater benefits of solar with our partners, and the communities they serve over the lifetime of this deal.”

At CAN$450 million (US$444,200,000 million or JA$38,090,150,000.00 billion) this is a rather hefty investment in a Solar or Photovoltaic installation in Jamaica for the purpose of reselling power to the JPS Co Power Grid and possibly directly to consumers, dwarfing even the trouble JDIP (Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme) which weighs in at approximately US$400 million

Coincidentally, this comes a mere three (3) months after then Minister of Energy and Mining Clive Mullings made changes that effectively liberalized the Jamaica Energy Sector, paving the way for competition in Electricity Generation both for personal as well as Commercial usage.

Specifically he made the following changes as previously mentioned in Digicel Jamaica’s Alternative Energy Future – Increased Electricity Bills and Energy Sector Opportunities collide:

  • Net Billing where customer or Large scale Alternative Energy PPV (Private Power Providers) are paid for their Alternative Energy via Discounts as opposed to cash
  • Power Wheeling so as to allow power generated and put into one part of JPS Co’s Grid to be re-used elsewhere via the Net Billing Facility i.e. you generate 100KW at one point and re-use or resell it elsewhere on the grid so it cancels out
  • 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.

Guess by the mere token that Digicel has plans to shut down CLARO’s GSM Voice Network by March 1st 2012AD, they have no real intentions for the wide-scale usage of Alternative Energy in a continued build-out of CLARO GSM and HSDPA Network, seeing as they had been let off the hook by JLP Leader and then Prime minister prior to the December 2011 General elections Andrew Holness.

So this new company Solamon Energy Corporation’s appearance in Jamaica is confirmation that the Energy Sector is ripe for competition especially as:

  • JPS Co is upgrading its Analog Mechanical Meters to Digital meters, which by the way are really smartmeters, again ripe for another article
  • Bids are still open for the supply and design of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) since December 2011AD
  • Bids are still open for the construction of Hydroelectric plants since December 2011AD

Work for Technicians and Engineers, specifically in the Power and Mechanical Engineering fields is a sure bet in much the same way another FDI (Foreign Direct Investor), Oregon-based Porteon is sure to provide work for Automotive and Mechanical Engineering Technicians as noted in my article Oregon-based Porteon to assemble All-Electric Vehicles in Jamaica – One By One.

But there may be work for Generator Technicians and Telecoms Technicians as well, including those three hundred and fifty (350) employees recently laid off from CLARO Jamaica, as most likely they will be using Digital smartmeters for billing purposes at Residential and Commercial Customers via the Net Billing and Power Wheeling facility.

To reduce the amount of employees and avoid the pitfalls of JPS Co Meter Reading, the smartmeters may be read via having them communicate over a Wireless Network, hence the CLARO Jamaica RF (Radio Frequency) Technician and other support employee connection!!

In essence M2M (Machine-to-Machine) transaction as noted in my article NFC and M2M – Cashless Society and the Internet of Things between the Residents installed digital Smart meter with the Residential Solar PUC Main Server over a Telecom Providers Network 2G GPRS (Global Packer Radio Service), EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), 3G or LTE (Long Term Evolution) Broadband Internet.

This allowing seamless billing of the Residential or Commercial Customer without a need for staff to visit the Residential or Commercial Customer’s location to read their meter, similar to an initiative being spearheaded by Duke Energy’s Manager of Technology Development David Masters a US based company that has invested US$1 billion in monitoring smart meters and Power Station Installations via a AT&T and Verizon’s 2G Network  and also Google for Residential Customers via a US$850 million financial loan arrangement with Californian VC (Venture Capitalist) Clean Power Finance.

But more interestingly is what it will do for the Price of Electricity in Jamaica and Jamaica businesses! Business people and FDI (Foreign Direct Investors) are bound to get excited at this point!

Not only competition from cheap Alternative Energy as is the case with plentiful sunshine that is the energy source for Solar Power force prices down, but the dream of Porteon, ICT (Information and Computer Technology) companies and even Fortune 500 based companies such as Amazon and even ACS-Xerox coming to Jamaica is now a STRONG possibility as Cheaper Electricity makes long-term investment in Jamaica realistic.

Especially with the availability of Scotia VISA Debit Cards to Jamaicans since on August 2011AD as noted in the article ScotiaBank’s VISA Debit Card – Jamaica’s Online E-Commerce Renaissance making online shopping and Free Islandwide Shipping logistically possibility. Digicel’s move downtown leaves the RKA Building and the CLARO Building on 34 Knutsford Boulevard vacant, awaiting new tenants…….possibly Amazon or even ACS-Xerox with more Call Centers?

This as cheap Alternative Energy will make All-Electric Vehicles feasible in Jamaica and thus make Free Shipping islandwide a reality as dreamed up in my article Porteon heralds the coming of Free Local Shipping in 2012 – beckons, a lifeline for our Local Postal Service as well as Local Shipping companies in Jamaica such as DHL and FedEx, who may be considering going All-Electric Vehicles in Jamaica once this company sets up shop in the next three (3) years thanks to these plucky Canadians!!

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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.

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