Energy Resilience in Jamaica
Jamaican Businesses Embrace Solar in Business Forum

Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance (JERA) members

Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance (JERA) members – Key Representatives from USAID-Jamaica, Cadmus/JERA, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), Green Solutions International (GSI) & REDIS.

(L to R) Dr. Wayne Archibald, GSI Executive Director; Junior Bartley, Cadmus/Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance Junior Energy Expert; Kevin Mills, Participating Installer – REDIS; Robin Russell, JHTA President; Anaitee Mills, Cadmus/JERA Alliance Chair; Mark Stoughton, Cadmus/JERA Program Director; Mark Dennis, Cadmus/JERA Senior Energy Expert; Pamela Foster, USAID-Jamaica Director, Office of Environment and Health; Jannelle James, USAID-Jamaica Project Management Specialist – Energy; Camille Needham, JHTA Executive Director; Tiffany Arnold, Cadmus/Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance Coordinator; Nicqui Graveney, JMEA Project Coordinator; and Althea Spence, USAID-Jamaica Project Management Specialist.

27 June, 2023 – Kingston, Jamaica

Energy intensive Jamaican businesses can pay electricity bills that account for over ten percent of operating costs. Jamaica has higher energy costs than other areas of the Caribbean, this means higher prices for customers and lower competitiveness in the region. Jamaican businesses also account for about 60 percent of electricity consumption on the island, with the largest share consumed by small and medium sized businesses.

In order to address this, businesses are turning to renewable energy such as solar power. However, despite its potential to reduce operating costs and improve business operations, many Jamaican business owners have been hesitant to make the investment. A few of the constraints they have shared are the difficulties of navigating the market, identifying qualified installers, and accessing financing for a solar energy system.

By self-generating solar energy and storing excess energy in batteries, Jamaican businesses can not only improve their regional competitiveness, but also contribute significantly to Jamaica’s goal of achieving 50 percent energy generation from renewable sources by 2030. As Pamela Foster Director, Office of Environment and Health, noted “distributed renewable energy technologies increase both economic and climate resilience in the energy sector and deliver bottom-line benefits to Jamaican businesses.”

Now, with the support of USAID, a growing number of businesses across Jamaica are recognizing the potential of solar power and battery storage to reduce costs and improve business operations. The increased attention is due in part to the efforts of USAID and the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance (JERA), which supports the strengthening of Jamaica’s energy sector by expanding the adoption of distributed solar and battery storage.

Since 2021, USAID and the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance have supported over 20 commercial solar projects and more than 1,500 kilowatts (kW) of contracted capacity through the Strengthening Energy Sector Resilience in Jamaica (SESR-Jamaica) programme.

On June 27, USAID and the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance hosted a Solar Business Forum that brought together over 100 industry stakeholders to build relationships and catalyze solar investment. The event was co-hosted by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), both members of the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance and who together represent hundreds of businesses positioned to benefit from distributed solar and storage. Also present at the event were around 20 solar professionals, 15 financiers, and over 50 businesses with shared goals of delivering reliable products and services, lowering their electricity costs, and reducing their impact on the environment.

Throughout the Solar Business Forum, participants credited the USAID and Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance programme for encouraging them to take the first step in installing solar, helping navigate the perceived challenges, and offering third-party advice on systems to meet their business needs.

The event’s main panel discussion featured representatives of several Jamaican businesses that have received Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance Support in going solar, including Upful Villa, Ping’s Distributors, and Jamaica Inn.

Jamaica Inn is currently installing a 53kW system financed by Wigton Windfarm, an alliance investment partner. Everett Watson, Financial Controller of Jamaica Inn, spoke to the benefits of the lease financing model offered by Wigton, which requires no upfront costs and will help the Inn achieve its goal of being an industry leader in environmental sustainability.

David Ingledew, CEO of Ping’s Distributors, is already benefiting from the energy bill savings resulting from the 81 solar panels totaling 44kW on the roof of his Kingston facility. During the panel discussion, he highlighted the benefits of working with the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance team to receive third-party technical advice, and the ease of working with Alternative Power Sources (APS), an alliance participating installer, to get the solar energy system up and running. He noted, “in the very first month… my bill was [JMD] 242,000 less. And my [financing] payment per month is not that high, so that’s a no-brainer for me. [My JPS bill] just fell off a cliff.”

According to Deika Morrison, Manager of Upful Villa, her decision to install solar extended “beyond the cost savings perspective to a business continuity issue.” She noted that before connecting with the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance, she was interested in solar but struggling to navigate a voltage issue at her property in Treasure Beach, a community that is often challenged by irregular voltage fluctuations due to its remoteness. The energy alliance experts assessed Ms. Morrison’s situation and informed her that adding battery storage would allow her to install solar while mitigating other voltage-related issues. With the guidance provided by the alliance, she contracted with APS to install a 5.5kW solar and battery storage system, which is currently helping her reduce energy costs and minimize fluctuations in the Villa’s WiFi, refrigeration, water pumps, and other electrical equipment.

The Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance has also worked with financial institutions across Jamaica to identify and help customers access affordable financing for solar energy systems. Hopeton Nicholson, Manager at EXIM Bank, described the tailored loan products mobilized to finance solar projects supported by the USAID Strengthening Energy Sector Resilience in Jamaica programme. These EXIM loans offer competitive rates and allow the solar panels and equipment to be used as collateral. For businesses interested in solar financing, Mr. Nicholson highlighted the importance of working with accredited installers like those on Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance’s participating installer list, noting, “the systems must be credible, must be sustainable, for them to realize the savings and cash flow to be able to meet their obligations.”

Edison Galbraith, General Manager at Development Bank of Jamaica, added the importance of energy efficiency measures, both for maximizing the potential energy savings from a solar installation and for easing access to financing. He pointed to the Development Bank of Jamaica’s resources for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), including grants for energy audits that solar lenders like EXIM may require for larger loans.

The enthusiastic stakeholder participation at the Solar Business Forum seemed indicative of growing momentum toward clean, self-generated electricity among the Jamaican business community. Anaitee Mills, Cadmus/Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance Chair, highlighted that the alliance has already “provided free advisory services to over 80 Jamaican businesses in the hotel and manufacturing sectors, training and access to international accredited certifications to 60 energy professionals all across the island.” USAID and Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance will continue working to harness this momentum and support Jamaican businesses while creating a cleaner and more resilient energy system.

About the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance and Strengthening Energy Sector Resilience in Jamaica

The Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance (JERA) is a group of like-minded energy leaders from the Jamaican and international private sectors, research, and academia with a shared vision to promote and support the solar energy sector in Jamaica. Through the USAID Strengthening Energy Sector Resilience in Jamaica (SESR-Jamaica) programme, the alliance is supporting a wide range of renewable energy market development activities to strengthen the resilience of Jamaica’s energy sector. For more information about the efforts, visit: