How can we ‘walk the talk’ towards sustainable energy for all

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UNDP and other sister UN agencies in Jamaica are using solar power for a green energy environment. Photo: UNDP Jamaica

Jamaica is an inefficient user of electricity, according to a recent Worldwatch Institute’s report. High energy costs, including electricity at $0.42 per kilowatt-hour, are increasingly becoming a burden for Jamaicans, directly affecting the country’s development.

Jamaican citizens as well as the Government, are demanding and encouraging lower energy costs through new alliances with businesses and institutions to implement energy conservation measures while boosting the use of alternative energy sources.

We’re in this together. UNDP has supported the Government’s Energy Policy roadmap 2009-2030 to transform the sector through energy efficiency and diversification. It commits to a minimum target of 30 percent renewable energy in its portfolio by 2030, in line with the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  We have also supported the National Energy Action Plan to improve energy efficiency and conservation.

Energy affects us all, including our own UNDP bills. In line with what we preach, our office decided to “walk the talk” and pursue a clean energy path.

This included applying a ‘cool roof’ technology in our UNDP Kingston office. Nearly 464 square metres of metal sheet roof were treated to cool down office temperatures by 5-10 degrees—greatly reducing the use of air conditioning.

Additionally, over 600 energy efficient indoor and outdoor LED lights and nearly 60 automatic motion sensors have been installed to ensure that lights turn on only when the space is used.

With the abundance of sunshine in Jamaica, it is only natural that a green energy environment involves solar power: 40kw grid-tied photovoltaic panels have been installed to provide renewable energy to UNDP and other sister UN agencies’ offices.

Moreover, under its Net Billing Pilot Programme, the Government issued UNDP a licence to generate and supply power – up to 100 kilowatts – to the public electricity system. And UNDP is proceeding to secure a Standard Offer Contract to export excess electricity to the grid and receive remuneration at the avoided costs, plus a 15 percent premium for renewable energy sources.

In line with greening our office, UNDP Jamaica is now gearing to put in place a rainwater harvesting system and a recycling programme.

This is a modest beginning, but we hope this example will catalyse private sector investment in renewable and efficient energy. By engaging communities in such initiatives, the path towards sustainable energy can strengthen their resilience, environmental stability and growth, while boosting local development and creating additional community-driven jobs.

About the author
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Arun Kashyap is the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative in Jamaica.

 

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