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Soleco to build solar plants for CB and Jamalco

Renewable energy firm Soleco Limited will build two solar plants, totalling a combined 11.25MW, under separate projects for large industrial clients CB Group and the Jamalco alumina refinery.

The larger plant with a capacity of 9.2MW will be installed at Jamalco. But Soleco has not made any disclosures on that project.

The contract for the construction of the smaller one, however, was issued prior to the summer.

“Soleco has signed the construction contract with Grupotec to build our first set of distributed solar projects of just over 2.0MW for the CB Group Ltd,” the company said in a statement posted on its website. CB is a poultry operation owned by the Hendrickson family. It also trades in other meats and animal feed.

Soleco founder Angella Rainford did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the larger Jamalco project.

Last year, Soleco received planning approval for three plants in Jamaica. At the time, Rainford declined to name the clients or the size of the projects, citing confidentiality agreements.

Soleco Energy (Jamaica) Limited said its project with CB would facilitate the introduction of “self-generation” of its own electricity supply through the development of solar photovoltaic power plants across four of its sites in Jamaica, namely, its old storage facility at Freetown, the feed production facility at Newport Mills, and hatcheries in Old Harbour and Linstead. CB operates large poultry and farm operations and administrative offices in St Catherine and Clarendon.

The engineering, procurement and construction, and operations and maintenance contract was awarded to Grupotec Servicios Avanzados SA and its Jamaican branch on May 5.

Grupotec, based in Spain, will oversee the construction, operation and maintenance of the plants. It will be its first project in Jamaica, Soleco said.

The solar plants will complement the LNG plants built last year at the CB Group by the Jamaica Public Service Company. Jamalco’s complex also hosts an LNG plant that supplies energy to its refinery operations, but it is owned by New Fortress Energy.

No comments were forthcoming from CB Group or Jamalco about the solar projects up to press time.

Last August, Soleco acquired US$24 million in financing, US$13 million of which was provided by the Inter-American Development Bank, to conduct renewable energy projects. The IDB Environmental and Social Review Summary referenced two projects, saying they were expected to employ 60 persons at the peak construction period. Filings by the IDB also disclosed plans by Soleco to install solar units at Jamalco.

“The largest installation, covering 11.4 hectares and projected to generate 9.2MW of power, will be located at two sites within Jamalco’s industrial compound,” the IDB summary said.

Rainford is known in Jamaica’s energy market as the conceptualiser and investor in a large solar plant at Paradise Park, a project pursued through her other company, Rekamniar Limited. Paradise Park, which is located in Westmoreland, sells power to the national electricity grid operated by JPS, to which it is contracted as an independent power provider.

The demand for solar continues to rise, but government tenders for new additions to the electricity grid have not happened since 2015, thereby limiting growth opportunities for renewable energy producers.

Consequently, Soleco was formed to tap into demand from commercial and industrial clients who want renewable energy options to reduce costs. These projects do not require government tender. Soleco installs the solar panels, under lease-purchase agreements, and retain ownership of the equipment until clients pay off the loans.

Rainford’s partners in Soleco have not been disclosed.

The energy company’s board includes retired head of the GraceKennedy conglomerate Douglas Orane, and Chairman of the PanJam property and investment conglomerate Stephen Facey.

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