On Tuesday April 16, 2013 I presented at the Inaugural staging of the Jamaica Alternative Energy Expo on 100% Renewable Jamaica. The presentation analyzed Jamaica’s current energy demand and proposed a comprehensive method of supplying all the required electrical energy using only renewable energy sources. The presentation also proposed an efficient storage method to guarantee the reliability of the power source. 100% Renewable Jamaica will supply 800MW of electrical power using 70% offshore wind energy, 15% solar energy and the remaining 15% will be supplied by renewable sources such as: Hydro, Riverton’s waste, ethanol and geothermal.
Step 1: Electricity from the sea
The presentation stemmed from a research I had conducted during my studies at the Univeristy of Technology, Jamaica which explored the feasibility of Offshore Wind Technology in Jamaica. The research participated in an international technical paper competition in Tennessee, USA and captured the third place award. It revealed that the Tropic Atlantic is considered the 3rd strongest offshore wind region globally, which explains why our region is prone to an average of 18 tropical storms annually. Placing wind turbines in the sea produces up to 30% more energy than wind turbines on land depending on the region and the wind turbine’s location. Consequent of these facts our research proposes to supply 70% of our island’s electricity demand using wind energy, 100MW from onshore wind farm such as that of Wigton Wind Farm and an offshore wind farm producing a total of 460MW of power.
The locations for this offshore wind farm would be off the coast of St. Elizabeth and Manchester, this area is renowned for some of the strongest offshore wind in the region which partially explains why the Wigton Wind Farm is located only a few kilometers in land from Manchester’s south coast. This wind farm will produce a rated capacity of 460MW of power using 77 wind turbines each rate at 6MW when operating in rated wind speed. Details for funding an offshore wind farm for Jamaica can be found (here) and steps to Putting the wind to work (here).
Step 2: Solar Energy and other Renewable Sources
As said before, offshore and onshore wind turbines will account for 560MW of the 800MW of our 100% renewable blue print, 460MW will be generated using wind turbines in the sea and 100MW using wind turbines on land. The additional 240MW will be supplied primarily using concentrated solar power. A 240MW Concentrated solar power plant would utilize mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a small central location. Electrical power is produced when the concentrated light is converted to heat, which drives a generators, usually a steam turbine. Our research proved that Jamaica, located less than 20 degrees north of the equator is ideal for solar thermal technologies when compared to countries such as German who has almost 10,000MW of solar power, enough energy to power Jamaica 16 times using their solar capacity alone. Note Germany is a country that has less solar exposure than Alaska according to solar resources map 2010. A 3 square mile concentrated solar farm is proposed by the 100% Renewable Blue Print to be located in the planes of Clarendon a few miles South of highway 2000. This solar plant would be capable of producing 240MW of energy day and night, the technology stores excess energy from the sun in the heated liquid use to operate the turbine for energy generation at nights. Other renewable energy sources such as hydro energy from our vast rivers, waste energy from Riverton Dump, ethanol from our cane factories and geothermal from beneath our soil will all aid to add to the diversity of the energy mix and an increase the reliability of supply.
Step 3: Storing renewable energy
An important component of renewable energy is the ability to safely store excess energy to guarantee the reliable supply of electrical energy. Storing the electricity for backup will be done using a pumped hydro storage system details for which can be found at www.KimroyBailey.com. 100% Renewable Jamaica proposes a pumped hydro water reservoir west of Lover’s Leap in Southern St. Elizabeth. The topography of the area lends itself ideally for this technology; water will be pumped from the sea, and stored in the water reservoir along the coast. The energy to operate the pumps will be provided by the excess energy produced by the wind turbine during the hours when Jamaica’s energy demand is at its lowest. Primarily during the nights the electricity required is much less than the average demand; during this period the wind turbines will still be operating and possibly producing more energy than the island is able to consume. The excess energy is then used to operate the pumps located at the bottom of a hill, which takes the sea water and pumps it into the storage reservoir over 500m above sea level. The system will then operate as a hydro electric power generator; whenever more energy is needed than our renewable energy sources can provide water will be allowed to flow downhill, through a hydro generator, the force of the water will cause the turbine to rotate and the rotation will create electricity, this electricity is then added to the electricity from the renewable energy sources and supplied to the grid to provide a instantaneous supply of additional energy whenever it is needed.
Jamaica utilizes thousands of barrels of oil daily to generate electricity in a very inefficient and unsustainable manner, consequently the island pays among the highest for electricity in the region. 100% Renewable Jamaica will reduce the cost of energy by more than 50% to the region of US C15/kWh from over US C40/kWh it is today. Liquified Natural Gas, LNG will by no means solve our energy crisis and will only lead to a gas importation path similar to that of imported fossil fuel. Technologies and resources are available for our nation to capitalize on our vast natural resources such as strong offshore wind, daily sunshine, roaring rivers and other potential sources such as the waste in our municipal dump. Being a small island, 100% Renewable is much more economical and accessible than larger countries and our topography lends itself perfectly for reliably storing the excess energy for instantaneous access to guarantee the power supply and eliminate energy shortage or blackouts. 100% Renewable will strengthen our economy, boost manufacturing, and reduce oil importation for electricity generation.
Please add your comment and let’s keep the conversation going. 100% Renewable is Reliable, what do you think?