In 2021, Jamaica's electricity consumption was divided primarily between fossil fuels and gas, with 3.64 terawatt-hours (TWh) coming from fossil fuels and 1.49 TWh from gas. In comparison, the global average electricity consumption sits at 410 watts per person. This indicates that Jamaica's electricity consumption is relatively low, primarily relying on carbon-intensive sources of energy. Low levels of electricity generation can constrain the country's economic growth and development. Moreover, this high reliance on fossil fuels and gas also means higher greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.
To increase their low-carbon electricity generation, Jamaica can look towards other countries that have successfully transitioned to cleaner modes of power. One such example is Brazil, a country with a similar climate, which generates 94 TWh and 50 TWh of electricity from wind and solar energy, respectively. Given Jamaica's favorable climatic conditions, implementing these modes of electricity production could go a long way in reducing the country's carbon footprint. Another relevant example could be the approach taken by Canada, with its balanced reliance on wind (36 TWh) and nuclear energy (81 TWh). Jamaica could benefit from exploring nuclear energy as a low-carbon alternative, given its high energy yield and reliability.
The history of low-carbon electricity in Jamaica has seen some fluctuation, primarily in the biofuel and hydro sectors. In the early years, between 1973 and 1983, there was a small increase in electricity generated from biofuels, but it was followed by a significant dip in 1984. The following years were characterized by small periodic declines and increases in biofuel generation, with the most notable increase being 0.2 TWh in 2000. However, the generation from hydro remained nearly constant throughout. The new century marked the addition of wind and solar to Jamaica's clean energy portfolio, with wind energy seeing a small increment in 2016. Solar power was introduced only in 2019, marking a new chapter in Jamaica's journey towards low-carbon electricity production. However, the absence of a significant role for nuclear power is notable, as this energy source is a proven contributor to low-carbon electricity in numerous global contexts.