Topic: Energy Use
I am in agreement with Noel Mitchell’s letter entitled “Solar is the way to go”, which was printed in your paper, dated 27 April 2011. Jamaica should be utilizing much more solar energy than we presently do. But, utilization of photovoltaic (PV) panels (i.e. solar panels) is somewhat limited by their current inefficiency. Hence, large unshaded areas are required for their installation. Whenever a building exceeds three stories there is simply not enough roof space to accommodate all the panels needed to provide all of the buildings’ energy demand. So, individuals and small businesses most likely possess the required space to accommodate the panels, but initial costs may be unaffordable. Conversely “large buildings such as hotels, large office complexes”, some government ministries and hospitals will not have all the required space, though they may have the means to afford the installation. This is also the case with solar water heaters, and both are liabilities when hurricanes threaten.
However, an often overlooked yet effective solar technology is the use of daylight as a substitute for electric light. This is called “Daylighting”. You will realise that natural light was used to illuminate buildings before the advent of electricity. Today, it may simply entail the use of switches to control lighting fixtures adjacent to windows independent from areas deeper in a room: which will be darker. But, research has shown that occupants cannot be trusted to control these switches effectively; so, the current technology uses photocells to automatically dim or switch off electric lights as natural lighting levels increase. Again, space is an issue. Typically only spaces up to 4.5 or 6m in from windows can be “daylit”, though this can be increased by technology that is already in use at PCJ’s office building. Nevertheless, research again shows that daylighting will effect significant energy savings under these conditions, and especially in environments as our own.
So, it is possible to utilize solar energy for the greater part of our buildings’ energy demand. But, potential savings are even greater with use of more than one solar technology. Our government has proposing to use PV panels for street lights, which would be a worthwhile investment if and when it gets implemented. However, it may prove even more effective to provide incentives for the private sector to utilize more solar energy, while the government itself seeks to use more solar energy. Then, we could have a bright future, even when the price of oil is volatile.Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)Managing PartnerPAUL HAY Capital Projects Caribbean Capital Projects Management P. O. Box 3367Kingston 8Jamaica, W.I. tel: 1 (876) 756-0631cel: 1 (876) 324-4274fax: 1 (876) 756-0631 web: www.phcjam.come-mail: email@example.com name: phcjamprofile: www.linkedin.com/in/phcjamtwitter: www.twitter.com/phcjam