Jamaica gets first big wind plant

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Jamaica has been almost entirely dependent on imported oil for its energy requirements until the opening of the 20.7 MW Wigton wind farm in the Caribbean island's Manchester province. It was built as a turnkey project for the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) by the UK's Renewable Energy Systems (RES). This is the first project that RES, a major international wind plant developer, has completed in a developing country.

Power from the wind plant's 23 NEG Micon 900 kW machines will be sold to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo). Costing some $24 million, the project was part financed by a EUR 6 million soft loan from the Dutch government under its ORDET/MILIEV program. The loans are available to projects in the developing world using Dutch products or expertise. The Wigton turbines were supplied by the Dutch division of NEG Micon, previously in business as Nedwind. NEG Micon was absorbed by Vestas earlier this year.

According to PCJ, the Jamaican wind plant will displace some 522,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide yearly. But a EUR 22,000 deal by which the Dutch government was to buy 457,200 carbon emission reduction units to offset against emissions in the Netherlands under the Kyoto protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was never finalised, according to Senter/Novem, the agency responsible for administering the Dutch government's carbon credits acquisition program.

Jamaica's first wind turbine -- a Vestas 225 kW unit -- was installed in 1996 at Munro College in St Elizabeth and today supplies electricity to the JPSCo grid. Jamaica's potential wind capacity is thought to be 60 MW according to research conducted by JPSCo.

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