German Embassy collaborates with UTech for Sustainable Energy Conference and Exposition

The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Kingston and the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) have successfully hosted an Energy Conference and Exposition on May 16-19, 2012 at the Alfred Sangster auditorium, UTech Papine campus. This sustainable energy event was being held as part of the celebrations to mark Jamaica’s 50th independence and the 50th anniversary of the Jamaican-German diplomatic relations. 

The conference and exposition included a series of activities and events designed to increase public awareness on issues and technologies related to renewable energy and energy efficiency in Jamaica and to promote the Jamaican-German technical and economic cooperation and technology transfer in the area of sustainable energy development for the benefit of both countries. The four-day event included an exhibition on “Renewables – Made in Germany” exposing the latest developments in renewable energy and energy saving technologies (free and open to the public); public lectures on sustainable energy and a roundtable discussion with Minister Paulwell, the German Ambassador, leaders from the Jamaican energy sector and German and regional energy experts. The exposition also provided Jamaican companies with a vested interest in sustainable energy issues, the opportunity to showcase their companies, to display their products and services and to enter into an active exchange with potential business partners in both countries.

Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, Director of Sustainable Energy in the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship, UTech and coordinator of the sustainable energy conference and exposition, explained that the issue of sustainable energy is particularly relevant to Jamaica at this time as despite recent efforts in harnessing our renewable energy as wind, solar, hydropower and biomass energy, Jamaica still depends heavily on imported fossil fuels.  She added that, “this reliance on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation and transport purposes does not only cause CO2 emissions which harm the environment, but it also adversely affects the economics of the country, drains its foreign exchange earnings and makes Jamaica generally vulnerable to price fluctuation on the international markets, resulting in high energy tariffs and places energy supply security at risk.”

The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Josef Beck, emphasized that the “provision of sustainable, safe and affordable energy has become a major issue for the economic development of any country in the world. At the same time energy contributes between 70% and 80% of all CO2 emissions and has therefore a crucial impact on climate change which is of particular relevance for a beautiful island in the Caribbean like Jamaica. The German government backed by a large majority of its citizens opted for a profound turnaround of its energy policy embarking on the most ambitious path among all major economies to a green, safe and competitive economy. This requires a holistic approach including higher energy efficiency, energy savings and a changing energy mix bringing the share of renewable energy in generating electricity from today 20% to 50% in 2030 and 80% in 2050. Germany is aware of the huge challenge it has taken on but is convinced that the opportunities by far exceed the risks. Germany is willing to share its experiences in the sense of best practice and the acquired technology with partners and friends around the world hoping to also learn from others.”

It is in recognition of these problems that the Jamaican government has formulated an energy policy that calls for an accelerated exploration and exploitation of renewable energies, such as wind, solar energy and hydropower that will result in diversifying the energy mix and ultimately in stabilized electricity tariffs. The German government is assisting Caribbean countries including Jamaica with numerous project activities in the areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as in the energy sector and has committed to continuing to do so in the future.