Expansion of Wigton wind farm in Jamaica

Jamaica is a step closer to achieving its target of 11 per cent renewable energy use by 2012, with the completion of the expansion works at Wigton Wind farm Limited.

The expanded operations, carried out at a cost US$49 million through the PetroCaribe Fund, will be officially commissioned into operation by Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Hon. Bruce Golding on Wednesday, March 2, at the facility in Rose Hill, Manchester.

Detailing the scope of work, which began in early 2010, Manager for Special Projects at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), Dr. Raymond Wright, explained that the energy generating capacity of the wind farm has increased by 18 megawatts (MW), through the installation of the nine new two MW wind turbines. This is expected to boost the power generating capacity of the commercial wind farm to 38.7 MW, up from 20.7 MW.

He noted that “the age of cheap oil is over” and the country must therefore look towards its own resources, and where possible, optimise the use of renewable energy in hydro-power, bio-mass, wind energy and waste in terms of their use for energy.

Pointing to wind energy as one of the most competitive renewable energy sources, Dr. Wright called for private investment in the resource.

“Wind energy can be generated or produced at somewhere between US7 and 10 Cents per kilowattt hour. Presently, we are paying JPS (Jamaica Public Service) about US29 cents per KW hours as domestic consumers, so you can produce wind energy at about one-third of the price that we are paying for it as consumers. It is a very competitive and important component of our energy future in Jamaica,” he stated.

Dr. Wright noted that the while the Wigton expansion is only a small addition to the energy mix, “every increment counts, and it will go towards reducing energy prices, but only in a very small measure.”

Wigton Wind farm Limited is a subsidiary of the PCJ. Located on more than 400 hectares of land in Rose Hill, Manchester, it is Jamaica’s first commercial wind farm, the first phase of which was commissioned in 2004.

Wigton is driven by its objectives to develop and operate wind power plants and similar renewable energy systems in Jamaica, to generate energy for sale to the local electric utility company, the JPS.