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Energy efficiency potential in Jamaica: challenges, opportunities and strategies for implementation

April 2011 | Project documents
Publication cover
Corporate author:
  • German Society for International Cooperation
  • Jamaica. Ministry of Energy and Mining
  • NU. CEPAL. División de Recursos Naturales e Infraestructura
Binger, Al - German Society for International Cooperation
UN symbol.:
49 p.
Project documents
  • Project documents, studies and research papers
    • Project documents


The Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA) for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) identifies energy management as a critical issue in achieving sustainability. Like many of the small islands states, Jamaica is economically vulnerable to external factors such as fluctuations in energy prices, a consequence of an over dependence on imported oil. Securing supplies of affordable and reliable energy is an essential element of economic and social development. In Jamaica however, energy systems and energy use are inefficient and expensive and add to national economic vulnerability.Jamaica is endowed with significant renewable energy resources that provide a base for reducing their dependence on high-cost, environmentally damaging fossil fuels. The benefits of using renewable energy are at least fivefold: a clean, green, dynamic image and marketing tool for the country; the preservation of natural and tourism resources; economic benefits via the reduction of imports (of which oil is a major component), thus saving scarce foreign exchange; creating employment and generating new income; and providing cheaper and more reliable energy for businesses and individuals.The problems associated with such heavy reliance on fossil fuels have promulgated an energy policy that promote energy conservation and efficiency in the energy conversion (electricity generation and petroleum refining) and end use (industrial, commercial, household and transport) sectors. Energy efficiency initiatives are most promising activities for reducing GHG emissions and energy costs of sustained growth as well as increasing energy security in Jamaica, within the short to medium term; Jamaica "wastes more than half the available energy" in the imported fuels and has a comparatively high energy per unit of GDP as a consequence. The Government of Jamaica must be commended for efforts towards mainstreaming energy efficiency into the energy and development policies via the National Energy Policy (2009 2030); the Addendum on Energy Conservation and Efficiency (2008-2022), now updated to the draft National Energy Conservation and Efficiency Policy 2010-2030; and the Vision 2030 Jamaica (National Development Plan).With respect to over two decades of discussions aimed at giving energy efficiency and renewable energy more prominent positions in the energy economy however, Jamaica has been lagging. A major factor underlying this state of affairs has to do with the behaviour of the society as a whole. Jamaica is a high consumption society in which choices in home design; household appliances; motor vehicle, and other personal commodities are hardly driven by efficiency considerations. In fact, the perception is that the Jamaican public has a relatively low awareness of the important connections between lifestyle and energy use and the mechanisms through which they can make responsible choices to improve energy efficiency; there is a somewhat inherent belief that savings in energy cost will primarily result from renewable energy options.Integrating regulatory instruments and the national energy policy should be part of a more comprehensive approach. A regulatory framework or law cannot be effective unless they are firmly grounded in the country's energy policy and are backed up by an institutional structure, which serves their purposes. Together with a range of targets and incentives for energy efficiency investments, the Government of Jamaica can provide a "balanced mix" of "push and pull" factors to encourage broad based participation that includes the household and commercial sectors -both, when combined, are significant users of electricity and transport fuels. Pronounced energy efficiency uptake in Jamaica requires a paradigm shift in the energy economy- away from the traditional approach that focuses exclusively on individual behaviour and technological advances to one that utilizes a range of possible measures to pursue "energy security and efficiency". There is societal acceptance that there is an almost desperate need to improve efficiency in:Electricity generation by the public utility, Jamaica Public Service Company and the self generators in the bauxite/alumina and sugar industries;Transmission and distribution of electricity by the public utility; andEnergy use for water services provision by the National Water Commission.While pursuing these efforts however, care must be taken not to have an over reliance on the mass intervention strategies highlighted above and there must be complimentary activities at the individual level in the household and commercial sectors. These activities should address traditional demand side measures as well as introduce and promote efficient micro generation activities to reduce reliance on the utility provider. In return, the utility should be "encouraged" to increase participation in activities "on the other side of the meter", such as demand side management schemes. Likewise, efficient uptake in transport fuels must be promoted through the broadening the role of motor vehicle and transport fuel sales and service providers to include energy issues. Government must set, evaluate and rationalize efficiency targets and "facilitate" achievement of same.Este documento ha sido eleborado en el marco del proyecto "Diálogo Político sobre eficiencia energética y energías renovables" (GER/10/02), ejecutado por la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL) en conjunto con la Cooperación Técnica Alemana: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) y y financiado por el Ministerio Federal de Cooperación Económica y Desarrollo de Alemania (BMZ).

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