What have been the main highlights of the current year?
One of the highlights is our further expansion into the market. The renewable energies market has picked up significantly, and the government of Jamaica has been organizing more tenders. The market has never been this prosperous over the last 15 years, as far as renewable and alternative energy is concerned. In 4Q2018, we focused on completing most of our contracts, although a few of them will still be in progress in 1Q2019. In the past, people were not certain or confident about renewable energies, though public awareness is growing. The government is determined to produce 50% of the nation's energy from renewable sources by 2030.
Where is the market is heading in terms of solar energy?
Solar energy will continue to grow not only because it is a technology that has proven itself, but also because it is financially viable. The government has also facilitated solar energy's growth by issuing licenses for feed-in tariffs. In the past, the bureaucracy surrounding the issue was complicated, and no one knew much about it, while the public utility company was simultaneously trying to slow things down. At present, however, everyone is embracing solar energy—including the public utility company.
What has been the key to moving forward in the industry?
The private sector has played a great role in driving the industry forward. APS is considered as the pioneer because 15 years ago, there was no interest in this business, as solar panels were costly. We stayed committed to the technology through thick and thin and are here to stay and see the market grow even further. There will continue to be a rise in similar companies as well, and there is no doubt that the market will continue to grow.
Are there any incentives to continue spending in other parishes?
If energy costs and entry requirements for the industry are lowered, this industry can transform the economy in the long run. Economic growth is what Jamaica needs right now, and our industry is pushing to positively contribute to national growth. What is more, interest rates are now lower than they were three years ago, which means there are lower rates available for the installation of solar panels. As the economy improves, the government can spend more on youth development activities and programs to improve the welfare of its citizens.
How would you assess the performance of solar energy companies in Jamaica so far?
We are doing well. One of the most outstanding achievements of Jamaica's Renewable Energy Association was lobbying with the government to increase the involvement of local companies. The problem we currently have is that the entry requirements for tenders that are funded by overseas agencies are so difficult that no local company can ever meet them. As such, the Jamaica Renewable Energy Association has entered into discussions with the government to increase the involvement of local companies, especially when the tender is held by international agencies such as the IDB or grant-funded by the World Bank.
What are your goals for 2019?
Our intention is to increase the company's sales by 40%, which is an achievable target. We will be diversifying our product line in 2019 to surpass this goal. In fact, we have already embarked upon working with a new energy efficiency product line called SmartCool that will assist in improving cooling and refrigeration systems.