Jamaica PM Announces solar plans for official residence

As representatives of the world’s nations gather at the COP22 Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, small island developing states are standing out for their impressive commitments to fighting climate change. Today, in keeping with its promise to transition to 30% renewable energy for electricity generation by 2030, the Government of Jamaica announced its participation in the Solar Head of State coalition and installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the national executive office, Jamaica House.

Jamaica House is home to the official residence and offices of Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Jamaica House is home to the official residence and offices of Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister of Jamaica, Hon. Andrew Holness, said, “This project is symbolic of the renewable future we see for Jamaica and the Caribbean. Islands like Jamaica are becoming leaders for demonstrating the deployment of solar technology, and I aim to lead by example, by installing solar PV on the Office of the Prime Minister, Jamaica House.”

 Jamaica House was built in Kingston to be the official office for the Prime Minister of Jamaica, after the country’s independence in 1962.

The Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley is passionate about the growth of the energy sector and understands the importance of renewable energy’s impact on an efficient economy. As said in his 2016-2017 Sectoral Presentation speech that: “Everything we do as a country, must pass the litmus test and improve the Jamaican gross domestic product. Therefore, the government must create a competitive energy environment”.

Announcing this project, Dr. Wheatley declared, “With this vision in mind, the time has come to begin the transition. What better way to start than with the solarization of Jamaica House. This renewable energy revolution is not only essential but exciting and we want all of Jamaica to share in this vision and excitement.”

Solar Head of State partners with solar technology companies, local installers, major climate NGOs and foundations to offer well designed, professionally installed solar systems for the residences of heads of state or government around the world, in order to showcase and promote the use of the technology. With support from its partners, Solar Head of State will install a donated 15kW grid-connected solar photovoltaic system on the Office of the Prime Minister, Jamaica House. This installation will save the government thousands of dollars in energy expenditures over its lifetime.

Delegations from 195 countries are present in Marrakech to discuss the implementation of the recently adopted Paris Agreement, which has been ratified by over 100 countries. Renewable energy, particularly solar, is a major force in reducing carbon emissions and the targets outlined in the agreement. Many projects identified at COP 22 will be initiated because they make sense economically, in addition to having positive environmental impacts.

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group and nonprofit Carbon War Room which aims to accelerate the implementation of renewable energy in the Caribbean, said, “I’m so pleased to see Jamaica setting such a great example!”

Prime Minister Andrew Holness address utility chiefs at a conference in October 2016

Prime Minister Andrew Holness address utility chiefs at a conference in October 2016

Mohamed Nasheed, climate change activist and Former President of the Maldives said, “Now, more than ever, the Presidents and Prime Ministers of island countries, which are so threatened by climate change, must show global leadership by cutting carbon emissions and embracing clean energy. Jamaica is showing such leadership with its commitment to renewable energy and the solar installation on Jamaica House.”

The installation work will be undertaken by U.S firm Solar Island Energy, working with the National Energy Solutions Limited (NESol) an agency of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology and Envisage Energy, a local Jamaican company focused on being part of their island’s sustainable future. The project is supported by Elms Consulting, a London-based strategic consulting firm working to accelerate sustainable development on islands.

The solar PV panels for the Jamaica House Solar Head of State project are donated by Trina Solar. Jifan Gao, Trina’s founder, is a leading figure in China’s booming solar industry. This project is being done in coordination with the Clinton Climate Initiative and Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room’s Islands Energy Program.

The Jamaican House installation will be a shining beacon of the importance of solar energy for Jamaica's future, and an indication of the government's commitment to using renewable energy. While island nations such as Jamaica are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, this project is a reminder that they are also leading in finding solutions.