Last month, a new wind farm began spinning its blades in Jamaica. At 36 megawatts (MW) it became Jamaica’s largest private-sector renewable energy project, set to diversify the country’s energy matrix, reducing its high electricity prices and generating significant environmental and social benefits.
Altruistic and marketing motives aside, a private operator of infrastructure (in particular in an arrangement as highly structured as PPP) is likely to implement renewable energy technology only if profitable and/or mandated in the PPP arrangements. Critics are often angry that private operators think first about the bottom line, rather than make decisions based on the best interests of the environment. This is unfair to some extent, as private companies are often committed to climate friendly efforts (whether truly altruistic or for marketing opportunities). But as a general premise, the private sector will do what you pay it to do.
What’s the difference? The private sector.
In 2003, the Government of Jamaica finally succeeded in doing what it had been trying to do for a decade: privatize Montego Bay Airport. A private sector consortium, led by Vancouver International Airport, quickly invested millions of dollars in expanding the terminal building, doubling the airport’s capacity and opening dozens of new retail spaces. Since then, the consortium has invested more than US$200 million on expansions and improvements to the airport, all of which has been entirely off the government’s balance sheet.
Jamaica has gone on to implement several more public-private partnerships (PPPs), with mixed results. The second phase of its ambitious highway construction program — the Mount Rosser Bypass — was recently opened, cutting a swath through miles of virgin territory. However, early indications are that traffic levels are not living up to expectations, probably due to the Bypass’ steep eight percent gradient, which is beyond the means of most Jamaican trucks and buses.
In the energy sector, Jamaica is completing three PPPs with a total of 115 megawatts of renewable energy (RE) capacity, putting the country on track to meet its RE target of 12.5 percent of generating capacity by the end of 2015. Lastly, the government is currently completing formalities for the sale of Kingston Container Terminal (KCT) to a consortium of CMA/CGM and China Merchant Marine, a transaction that is expected to result in a US$600 million capital expenditure program by the port’s new owners.
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- Bahamas, The
- Latin America & Caribbean
- wind energy
- wind power
- geothermal power
- roads and highways
- road construction
- public-private partnerships
- public-private partnership
- public-private dialogue
- partenariats public-privé
- infrastructure financing
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.Access to affordable and reliable energy is critical to the human health and to economic development. On an individual level, without electricity, food cannot be refrigerated, students must study by candlelight, access to clean water is hindered, and firewood must be collected to cook and heat the home. At the societal level, a lack of reliable electricity means that medical supplies— including vaccines— cannot be refrigerated, the internet cannot be supported, and businesses and industries have to buy their own generators to remain operational.
Yet, despite its importance, more than 1.3 billion people still do not have access to electricity, and 2.6 billion people do not have access to clean cooking facilities. According to the International Energy Agency, more than 95% of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa or developing Asia, and 84% live in rural areas. These communities are often the poorest and most isolated from the electricity grid.
Interestingly, more than 50 million of these unconnected people also live in areas with abundant wind resources. Using data on areas with high wind resources and where electricity access remains elusive, a new initiative known as Wind for Prosperity hopes to bring wind-powered electricity access to many more.
The following video, narrated by Scarlett Johansson, addresses energy poverty and is part of a larger campaign: #aRaceWeMustWin. The campaign declares that “Getting 1.3 billion people out of energy poverty is a race that we MUST win.”
The green energy revolution used to look pretty far off. Today, businesses are starting to factor the cost of climate change into their planning, countries have set targets for increasing the use of renewable energy, and wind farms and solar panels are popping up everywhere. But large-scale renewable energy development is still a challenge – especially in the absence of government incentives. Large-scale renewable power such as solar, wind, and wave power, though technically viable, is often seen by investors as too expensive to develop and too risky.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, is working to overcome those concerns. In Chile – a country with considerable renewable energy potential – these efforts are starting to have an impact. As the video below shows, Chile plans a significant shift in its energy equation – from 37% renewables today to 55% by 2024. Though still a very small percentage of the overall energy mix, non-conventional renewable power such as wind and solar is starting to happen there, without government subsidies.
If you live on an island in the ocean, energy and climate issues come together in a palpable way. Most small island developing states depend heavily on imported fossil fuels, especially diesel, for their power. For remote islands, in the Pacific for example, the fuel must be shipped over long distances. It’s expensive, the supply is limited and intermittent, and paying for it stretches government budgets. Because of this, low-income families and communities often rely instead on kerosene, and wood or other biomass for lighting and cooking.