The University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) and the PetroCaribe Development Fund (PCDF) last Tuesday formalised collaborative arrangements under which the university has been contracted by the PCDF to implement a renewable energy training pilot project at the Glenmuir High School in May Pen, Clarendon.
The pilot project is for a period of four months and involves installation of a solar energy system and other infrastructural modifications, as well as a training component which will guide the teachers and students about best practices in energy management and efficiency. UTech led by expertise in its School of Engineering, was selected by the PCDF to undertake the training component involving the training of teachers and students on energy management and efficiency. The project comes as part of the thrust by the university to provide consultancy services from the professional expertise of its staff to a growing number of clients in the public and private sector in Jamaica and across the Caribbean.
Speaking at the contract signing held at UTech’s, Papine campus, Chief Executive Officer of the PCDF Dr Wesley Hughes explained that, “PetroCaribe has as part of its mandate, the promotion and use of alternate sources of energy and a reduction in the use of fossil fuel-based energy in public institutions.”
He pointed out that one of the major challenges faced by Jamaica over many decades continues to be the high cost of energy which stifles business competitiveness and “makes households poorer.” He asserted that there is significant unrealised potential for sustainable energy gains which can accrue from structured initiatives in support of renewable energy and training. It is in this context that he shared that the PCDF has designed a project to increase energy efficiency in schools.
“We believe that students at the high school level are ideal candidates for the implementation of a project of this nature. PCDF believes that the multiplier effects are far-reaching and diverse,” Dr Hughes said, adding that “it is anticipated that these students will in turn demonstrate skills and the best practices learnt within the school, at home and later in the workplace”.
Dr Hughes noted that Glenmuir High School was selected for the pilot project “primarily because the school demonstrated the capacity consistent with the project requirements”. He added that the intention is to replicate the project in other high schools across Jamaica after the pilot is tested at Glenmuir.
President of the university, Prof Stephen Vasciannie, in welcoming the partnership, said that, “UTech, Jamaica welcomes the project as a perfect fit with the university’s thrust “towards leveraging our expertise, knowledge and use of technology and innovation to impact the country’s development,” adding that “the collaboration has all the markers of the UTech, Jamaica brand and our commitment to building the three pillars of teaching, research and service.”
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computing, Dr Nilza Aples, noted that UTech’s expertise in engineering education and training is well established, having led a number of similar energy training projects with other local and international organisations and welcomed the continued opportunity to contribute to Jamaica’s energy development.
Following the Glenmuir High School Pilot Project, the PetroCaribe Development Fund intends to roll out the programme for renewable energy use across many other schools in the country.
In the Estimates of Expenditure for the new financial year, 2017/18, the Government has allocated $695 million for energy efficiency and energy conservation in the public sector.