Wind energy in Jamaica: PetroCaribe and Wigton to invest in wind farm

The PetroCaribe Development Fund (PCDF) and Wigton Wind farm Limited (Wigton) will be investing several million dollars in funding and training as part of a renewable energy initiative at the Munro College in St. Elizabeth.

The initiative will see the PetroCaribe Development Fund investing approximately $7.7 million to rehabilitate the school’s 225 kilowatts (kW) wind turbine while Wigton will assist the school in providing technical assistance and training for fourth and fifth form students in the theory and practice of renewable energy, including the installation and maintenance of the requisite technologies.

At a recent handing over ceremony hosted at Wigton’s corporate headquarters in Kingston, Manager of the PCDF, Sharon Weber stated that the investment reflects the importance that the Fund attaches to initiatives that can assist in transforming Jamaica’s energy mix, beginning with the exposure of students to sources of renewable energy.

"Renewable energy will continue to be one of the most important issues for Jamaica going forward and this investment is not only about rehabilitating the wind turbine, it’s also about making a meaningful connection with these students who over the long term, have the potential to transform Jamaica’s energy sector in keeping with the renewable energy goals of the National Energy Policy 2009-2030”, she explained.

Echoing similar sentiments, General Manager of Wigton, Earl Barrett who also spoke at the function stated that the initiative is in keeping with the objectives of establishing Wigton’s Resource Centre which aims to among other things promote green energy education and awareness of wind farm operations among primary and high school students up to grade 11.

“Over the years Wigton has carried out and/or facilitated numerous training programmes, seminars and workshops aimed at building capacity in the renewable energy sector. This pilot project is no different and we hope that this exercise will encourage the students to pursue careers in the field of renewable energy”, he said, adding that based on the renewable energy targets set out in the National Energy Policy, it is extremely important that Jamaica continues to develop a cadre of renewable energy professionals.

The training component of the programme will take place at the Wigton Resource Centre located in Manchester and the Munro College. It will entail lectures, presentations, technology demonstrations and practical hands on exercises. Wigton anticipates that the training will equip the students with the required knowledge and skills to assist in the operation, management and maintenance of the school’s wind turbine.

First Vice President of the Munro College Old Boys’ Association and chief architect of the PetroCaribe/Wigton collaboration, C Lloyd Allen, was emphatic in pledging the commitment of the Association and the school community to work together for the success of the project.

“We want this project to be successful to the extent that it becomes a forerunner for other such energy initiatives at other educational institutions”, said Allen.

The sentiments were endorsed by the Chairman of the Board of Munro College Gregory Shirley and Principal, Albert Corcho.

The 225 kW generator at the Munro College which was commissioned in 1996, was the first grid connected wind energy source in the English speaking Caribbean. Munro College an all-boys institution was founded in 1856.