Jamaica resorts to solar-powered pumped-hydro storage


Jamaica's prime minister, Andrew Holness, has announced its cabinet approved the implementation of the country's first pumped-hydro storage project: the Pumped Storage Hydro Electric and Water Systems Project.

The project is currently under development at an undisclosed location by a consortium whose members were not revealed. “The government has received an unsolicited proposal from a consortium of reputable local and international companies to implement the project,” Holness explained. “The proposal is currently undergoing technical and due-diligence reviews.”

In its press release, the government said that the project will involve deep-sea desalination and will use solar power to bring water from the site's lower reservoir to the upper reservoir. “The freshwater will then be gravity fed downhill through hydropower turbines, generating electricity. The water will then be channeled to reservoirs downstream to be used for household purposes and irrigation,” Holness added.

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“Renewables currently account for 13% of our energy generation mix and our stated target for renewables is 30% by 2030. This will still leave us extremely vulnerable to global oil price shocks. The Pumped Storage Hydroelectric [sic] and Water Systems Project, along with other proposals on the table, could move our renewables portion to 50%,” the prime minister added, noting that the facility may also help reduce water scarcity in the Kingston Metropolitan Area.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, Jamaica had around 30MW of hydropower capacity and 93MW of installed solar power at the end of 2020.

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