Jamaica’s transition to cleaner liquefied natural gas (LNG), now at nearly 25 per cent of generated power for the national grid, will move to 80 per cent in four years.
It will result in one private supplier, United States-based New Fortress Energy, replacing the state-controlled Petrojam as the main supplier of energy to power utility the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) and other private projects.
“New Fortress is a single supplier, and if they run into problems, we could have issues,” conceded JPS President and CEO Emanuel DaRosa when asked whether the concentration of power in the hands of one supplier made the electricity provider liable to shocks. “Having said that, our Old Harbour power plant is a dual plant, so while the main power source is natural gas, it can use diesel as a backup. So, should there be a problem, we can run diesel.”
DaRosa and other JPS executives were at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum at the newspaper’s North Street, Kingston, headquarters on Thursday.
LNG will supply roughly 65 per cent of the island’s energy by next year, and New Fortress will supply all of that capacity, according to the JPS president. By 2030, LNG is likely to move to 80 per cent of the energy mix, with renewables accounting for 11-13 per cent. It will follow the replacement of 160 megawatts of ageing power plants to run on LNG. The JPS has not yet decided on a supplier for those units.
DaRosa said that the paradigm shift signalled the island’s increasing reliance on LNG and the reduction in purchases from state-owned Petrojam oil refinery, which he estimates will drop by some 75 per cent after opening its Old Harbour power plant later this year.