Prime Minister Andrew Holness has signalled the intentions of the Government to integrate nuclear energy in the country’s energy mix.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of Expo Jamaica 2023 last week Thursday, April 28, 2023, the prime minster revealed that already he had spoken to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the nuclear field — about using nuclear energy to generate electricity.
The move will form part of the Government of Jamaica’s National Energy Policy which, in part, aims to generate 50 per cent of electric energy from renewable sources by 2030. This, Holness said, will make the supply of electricity “more reliable, more available, and more affordable”.
“Jamaica has to explore new technology in [the form of] nuclear energy — small nuclear plants to generate in Jamaica — which is cheaper, more stable and more affordable,” he explained further.
“So the Jamaica Government is serious about insulating our economy [against] energy shocks and high energy prices,” the prime minister continued.
The move has been welcomed by president of the Jamaica Renewable Energy Association (JREA) Alex Hill, who informed Jamaica Observer that “nuclear cannot be written off as future energy source”. He added that though there are pros and cons, the energy source should be considered for integration into the country’s energy mix over the next five years.
Last October, Jamaican billionaire and chairman of Portland Holdings Michael Lee-Chin signed a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Nuclear Laboratory (CNL) under which he will be promoting nuclear technology — through small modular reactors (SMRs) — as the means to decarbonise electricity production across the world. When asked by Business Observer if Jamaica will be targeted for SMRs, he responded, “Every country is a target, whether you are a large oil-producing nation, or Jamaica, there are demands for our services.”
Still vice-president of JREA Jason Robinson is of a completely different opinion to his colleague Hill, explaining that Jamaica is not ready “or will ever be ready” for such energy source.