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Jamaica's first wind turbine -- the result of energetic and visionary efforts by the Munro College Old Boy's Association -- was officially inaugurated at the private school on February 8 by prime minister P J Patterson. As well as electricity, the Vestas V27, 225 kW is to generate a sustained income for Munro College and hopefully an interest in wind power in Jamaica.

The project had its beginnings when the school's alumni raised about $100,000 to buy a 65 kW machine from the US, says consulting engineer John Whittingham of Barbados. However, after attending a meeting of energy engineers in St Lucia in December 1994, project manager Paul Stockhausen was persuaded to invest in a larger machine.

Extra cash for the more expensive Vestas unit came from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica and the Canadian Green Fund, which together provided $110,000, while the University of the West Indies Foundation for the Environment donated $60,000, says Whittingham. Further help came from the Multicare Foundation, which donated J$5.4 million, and the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), the local utility. It provided the grid connection and transformer free of cost. Finally, Aluminium Partners of Jamaica contributed physical help and provided a crane free of cost.

"The project has been widely acclaimed in Jamaica as it allows the demonstration of wind power to take place without commitment of funds from the government. In addition, JPS got the chance to have a first look at wind power by collaborating with Munro and contributing a modest sum to the project," says Whittingham.

Munro College is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains in St Elizabeth at about 800 metres. The site is swept by strong winds for most of the year. "No measurements of the wind exist, but the confidence of the investors seems to be justified as the machine has performed very well since it was commissioned on December 6," adds Whittingham.

The turbine is being monitored in Denmark by Vestas as well as by the firm's agent in the region, Caribbean Wind Power. "The results of the monitoring are being made available to interested parties in Jamaica and the idea of adding other machines to make a small wind park is being considered. In addition to remote monitoring of the electro-mechanical performance of the machine, a meteorological tower is soon to be installed to make wind measurements at the site as a further check and as a basis for determining the economics of expanding into a wind farm. The project is expected to yield about two million Jamaican dollars a year for the duration of the life of the machine," reports Whittingham.

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