JPS plots renewables as a path to the futureFriday, October 15, 2021
BY KELLARAY MILES
Light and energy company Jamaica Public Service Limited (JPS) stated that despite its transition to a greater use of renewable energy, that transition forms a critical part of the company's strategy for the future especially as government pushes to diversify the energy sector.
Speaking at a Jamaica Observer Business Forum held on Wednesday last, Joseph Williams, senior vice-president of generation and business development at JPS, said that as the company continues to build out and explore the benefits of these types of energy, careful consideration is being given to ensure proper integration.
“JPS believes in renewables and believes that there is a path and benefit that these types of energy can bring to our customers. We have to, however, be careful in ensuring that this is done in a diligent way. We therefore must understand very clearly how much renewables are needed, over what time and how we integrate it,” he said.
“If there is a lot of renewables and no proper way to have the integration, then this could add upward pressure to bills and not delivering the benefit it should,” he added.
Already extracting renewables through power purchase agreements from renewable partners, the grid operator, which has monopoly on power distribution, wants to add more sites, particularly solar, in the near future. Solar is fairly a new area for the company which also holds other renewable energy assets in hydropower and wind.
The company, which is replacing approximately 171 megawatt (MW) of its current capacity due to ageing infrastructure, wants to deepen its renewables footprint in the process. The project, which is now at the discussion phase with regulators and other stakeholders, could see the power company transition approximately 18 per cent of the capacity to be replaced with renewables in solar. Together output from its Content Solar facility in Clarendon and Eight Rivers Energy Company in Westmoreland provides over 50 MW of solar power.
“We believe that there will be more solar plants leading the portion as we grow into renewables,” Williams stated.
JPS, in defending its preferred use of liquefied natural gas (LNG), said it was also more compatible in working with these renewables than other types of fuel. Likewise, it said that the installation of a hybrid 24.5 MW battery storage facility installed in the last few years has allowed for effective accommodation of renewables, such as solar on the grid.
“A grid that is not properly managed and that has a lot of intermittent renewables could be a disaster for customers. Therefore, we have had to make investments in the way we interconnect these solar plants into our transmission and distribution equipment along with the control systems that are necessary to ensure that we are able to integrate renewables,” said Gary Barrow, chief operations officer at the power company.
JPS president and CEO Michel Gantois, in outlining the company's vision for growth in the renewables market, said that the plan was to really deepen its footprint in this more affordable form of energy.
“The vision we have collectively for the JPS is to move towards becoming a company that is more in tune to the evolving nature of the request from customers as they become responsive to a changing environment, in terms of new technologies such as renewables, and as we also become more responsive and efficient,” he stated.
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