Do more to capitalise on solar energy availability

Published: Thursday | July 12, 2012 Comments 0


I AM appalled that countries such as Jamaica haven't taken full advantage of solar-energy technology. The country should be far advanced in solar energy use by now. I can understand the dilemma of individuals and small businesses in wanting to go solar but is being deterred by the initial costs involved. It can be quite daunting for their budgets. But for large businesses, such as hotels, large office complexes, factories, warehouses, government ministries, hospitals and schools that use large amounts of electricity solar is the way to go. Solar panels should adorn their rooftops.

As I understand it, there's a government incentive programme in place geared towards solar energy use, so there's no need or excuse for this resistance or reluctance. Solar, like the wind, is clean, renewable energy. Once the sun shines it will never run out. The Government, perhaps, should take the initiative on this - because their energy bill is quite staggering - costing billions of dollars annually. Jamaica is currently experiencing an energy crisis. The country cannot afford a US2-billion a year energy bill - it's economy cannot sustain this. Just imagine if the country spent half of that amount on renewable energy such as solar. It would be well on its way to self-sufficiency in energy. Besides, the price keeps coming down while the technology is always improving.

The recent argument that coal is a better and cheaper alternative is not very convincing, in my view. Coal, like oil and gas, is regarded as fossil fuels. When burned it emits carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, which turns into greenhouse gas that cause acid rain and global warming. Besides, it has to be imported continuously, a coal-fired plant have to be built and it comes with waste-disposal issues. Added to that we have no control over its pricing. In contrast, Jamaica produces an abundance of sunshine throughout the year. China, the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, is now lighting up its cities and towns with solar energy. Maybe Jamaican investors could partner with the Chinese in building a solar panel plant in Jamaica. Solar energy is not emotional, a pipe dream or a fairy tale - it is real.

Noel Mitchell

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