Nigel Davy, founder and CEO of Innovative Energy Company Limited (IEC), headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica, is a keen advocate of green energy. “The renewable energy market is booming in Jamaica and I'm proud to be a part of it,” he told Light Reading at Mobile World Congress.

Ken Wieland, contributing editor

March 20, 2024

3 Min Read

IEC, which Davy describes as a “vertically integrated energy company,” has been developing, designing, constructing and operating energy infrastructure projects for some 20 years. “We’ve done quite a bit in the Caribbean region on the fossil side and now we’re transitioning to the green energy side through the development, engineering and construction of cogeneration plants, small and large scale photovoltaic solar systems and battery energy storage systems” he said.

Aside from helping the environment, there are sound economic reasons for making the shift to green energy. In fact, he added, it is almost financial malpractice not to adopt renewable energy.. Jamaica is highly dependent on imported fossil fuels and, as a result, its electricity prices rank among the highest in the Caribbean and Latin America.

“By using our own endemic fuel, the sun, we're going to save on the export of hard currency and give our government more fiscal space to focus on the social infrastructure needs of Jamaica,” said Davy. “It’s why we’re so proud to be part of initiatives such as the Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project, being forged by the Government of Jamaica.”

Smarter, greener farming with Huawei

A peculiar geographical trait of Jamaica is that its most fertile lands are also the driest. Essex Valley, in Southern Jamaica where agriculture is among the most prominent sector, is a case in point. Rainfall shortage meant that the government, if they were to help local farmers, would have to extract groundwater for crop irrigation using pumps running on Jamaica’s expensive (and sometimes unreliable) electricity grid. In case of power failure, even costlier diesel generators would be needed to ensure the pumping of water continued from wells of up to 600 feet in depth. A hugely costly endeavour.

“In order to meet Jamaica's Ministry of Agriculture’s goal for a safe, reliable, and economical power supply solution, IEC decided to cooperate with Huawei on the Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project, in December 2022,” explained Davy. “We looked at a wide variety of manufacturers, from Europe and the Americas, but, based upon their technology, customer support and price point, Huawei was the best choice.”

Working in collaboration with Jamaica’s National Irrigation Commission Limited (NIC), a subsidiary of the Ministry of Agriculture responsible for all national agricultural irrigation systems, IEC, starting from April 2023, has been installing Huawei’s smart photovoltaic (PV) solar system across four water-pumping sites in Essex Valley. “We’re using Huawei’s inverters, Huawei’s battery energy storage system and Huawei’s man-to-machine interfaces to do remote monitoring,” said Davy.

The four sites are spread almost two miles apart from each other and are connected via a Huawei microwave link. “In that way we can connect all the sites and have central monitoring from a single location,” he said. “And since we don’t have to run cables it’s also more cost-efficient.”

Added attractions

The aim of Jamaica's Ministry of Agriculture is to reduce yearly grid energy consumption by at least 30% at each site. Huawei’s PV energy storage system, said Davy, exceeds that target by 50% and will in fact displace up to 80% of grid energy consumption. According to estimates from IEC, the Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project, with Huawei on board, can have an ROI in just over four years with electricity charges (again, estimated) at US$39.7 million retrenched over 20 years.

It’s not only Huawei’s technology, however, that impresses Davy. Customer support and training for Jamaicans, he says, has been there from day one. “We want to deepen our relationship with Huawei going forward because I think, in the context of Jamaica, we’re just starting,” said Davy.

About the Author(s)

Ken Wieland

contributing editor

Ken Wieland has been a telecoms journalist and editor for more than 15 years. That includes an eight-year stint as editor of Telecommunications magazine (international edition), three years as editor of Asian Communications, and nearly two years at Informa Telecoms & Media, specialising in mobile broadband. As a freelance telecoms writer Ken has written various industry reports for The Economist Group.

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