UWI targets energy self-sufficiency by 2018

The University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona is moving towards liquefied natural gas (LNG) as it looks to achieve self-sufficiency in energy. Deputy Dean and Director of the Mona School of Engineering in the Faculty of Science and Technology, Dr Paul Aiken said that July 2018 is the targeted timeline for the UWI to start producing electricity for itself from LNG. “We have to find ways to reduce our operational cost,” Dr Aiken said, noting that 45 per cent of the university's energy is used for cooling, with the bill coming to over $700 million annually. He said that a combined heat and power plant using LNG is the solution to reducing this cost to the university. Meanwhile, Dr Aiken said the university's move towards energy self-sufficiency provides an opportunity for a new generation of electrical power engineers to be trained. Students enrolled in the Electrical Power Engineering degree programme will participate in internships at the LNG plant, which will be managed by Mona-Tech Engineering Services. “There is a lot of investment in LNG technology in Jamaica, and so they will need well-trained and knowledgeable engineers to operate the LNG plants,” he pointed out. He noted that Mona's first cohort of electrical engineers is currently in their final year, and there were approximately194 applicants for the programme this year. “The university is graduating 75 engineers this year, which is nowhere close to the 1,000 that is required (for the industry),” he pointed out. Skills that are needed for the natural gas industry include electrical, electronics and computer systems engineering. Aiken is encouraging individuals to consider the engineering field as a viable career path. Mona's three-year engineering degree programmes have a minimum entry requirement of passes in Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) or A' Level mathematics and physics. Students who do not meet this requirement but have passes in Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) physics, electrical technology, and mathematics, have the opportunity for admission to the preliminary year.