April 17, 2023 | by Gabriella Frisch

BMR Energy is committed to innovation, the use of leading technology, and sharing the principles of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics that are used in our facilities. We demonstrate this commitment via tangible support to communities in which we operate in many ways. Here is a breakdown of our most recent STEM-focused, community-oriented initiatives:

Continued support for Jamaica’s National Council on Science and Technology’s (NCST) Innovation Awards

The Innovation Awards is the premier acknowledgment of innovation across industry in Jamaica. The awards are managed by an accomplished team from academia, as well as the public and private sector. Chaired by Jamaica’s Prime Minister, these awards showcase Jamaica’s goal to formally recognize, support and encourage innovation in a nation that has always prided itself on imaginative transformations. 

As a major sponsor of these biennial awards since 2016, BMR provides meaningful financial support to advancing STEM in Jamaica and the NCST goals to: “Connect potentially viable innovations to existing resources that will assist them towards commercialization, promote the safeguarding of Intellectual Property (IP) rights, encourage science and technology careers and skills, and promote awareness and cultural acceptance of scientific thinking and local innovations in problem-solving.”

At the 2022 NCST Innovation Awards, BMR was proud to present our award for Energy and Efficiency to Fonseca Jack Stuart for the creation of a surge protector which reduces energy consumption by the equipment to which it is attached.

Ava Tomlin, BMR Regional Director for Jamaica presenting the award for Energy and Efficiency to Fonseca Jack Stuart.

Knowledge Sharing Initiatives:

Community Meetings

A key aspect of our commitment to the advancement of STEM principles is knowledge sharing, which has been an ongoing part of our operations since 2014. An initiative established during BMR’s development and operation of our wind farm in Jamaica is our community meeting and engagement program. We engage with the community periodically to highlight the environmental changes that the wind farm brings, its short term impact, and how it impacts the nation over the long term. 

Included in these meetings are presentations of and discussions on the Environmental Impact Assessment of the wind farm, explanations on how wind is transformed into energy, the positive environmental impacts of using renewable energy versus thermal, and the price impact on the consumer.

BMR Student Internships

For BMR, educational programs are not only a means to engage with the community and spread the word about the benefits of solar and wind projects in the Caribbean, but also a way to promote interest among younger generations about the industry and its future. 

Since 2018, we have mentored college students in Jamaica through our summer internship program focused on learning about renewable energy and plant operations. This program hosts students studying civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering, who receive one-on-one mentoring from BMR engineers and professionals, learn extensively about the operation of the plant and become involved in the execution of various projects. 

We have welcomed student interns from the Caribbean Maritime Institute, the University of the West Indies, Northern Caribbean University, Human Employment and Resource Training Trust/National Training Agency (“HEART”), and the University of Technology, Jamaica. The Human Employment and Resource Training Trust/National Training Agency (HEART ) is a vocational training institution that trains and certifies individuals in a number of areas including renewable energy and electrical and mechanical installations. 

BMR has partnered with HEART over the years via internships, work experience programs, permanent hires, and most recently via a furlough with instructor Claude Neil in the HEART Level 3 Renewable Energy Program. During this initiative, Neil was able to observe the best practices employed at our state of the art 36.3 MW wind park in Potsdam St. Elizabeth.

“My technical knowledge has been greatly enhanced both in the areas of safety electrical power distribution and maintenance of the wind energy conversion systems,” Neil said. 

Wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas’, Senior Technician Jerome Lewis showing Instructor Neil inside the nacelle of the V112 3.3MW turbine.

Educational Tours of BMR Facilities

BMR also facilitates tours year-round, during which we provide detailed information to cater to the specific audience we are working with. These demographics include educational institutions from the primary to the tertiary level, multilateral agencies, technocrats, members of the political directorate, diplomats and community interest groups.

BMR values our ability to share our knowledge and expertise with the communities surrounding our facilities. While many of our educational initiatives prioritize students and schools, we also acknowledge how important it is to help community members and leaders become aware of how these energy resources affect their lives. 

In communities like Bodden Town, home of our Cayman Islands solar farm, there is significant interest in our operations and the expansion of renewables in the islands, which we have embraced by offering tours of the plant. BMR has also opened up its Jamaica Wind Farm in St. Elizabeth to tours for students and teachers from schools across the island, including Campion College in Kingston and Munro College in St. Elizabeth. After the tours, feedback from the students showed an increased enthusiasm for energy-related projects.

BMR senior vice president Pip Decker leads students from a local primary school on a tour of BMR’s Bodden Town Solar Farm. 

Annual School Energy Education Programs

In addition to having educational institutions come to us, BMR participates regularly in annual initiatives that promote interest in the renewable energy field among Jamaican youth, both independently and in conjunction with the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica’s School Energy Program. 

Each year, our Jamaica Wind Farm hosts scores of students from local secondary and tertiary schools, giving them the opportunity to learn about wind energy and the plant’s operation. 

We also provide tangible support for the enhancement of learning in general, from improving the physical infrastructure, to donating computers and other equipment to facilitate digital and augmented reality programmes, which enhance student engagement and improve learning.

Students participating in the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica’s School Energy Program, in front of a turbine at BMR Jamaica Wind.

Malvern Branch Library Solar Project

Started and completed during the pandemic, BMR made a major commitment to the Malvern Branch Library, an outpost of the Jamaica Library Service, located in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, near our 36 MW wind farm. We fitted the library with photovoltaic panels and a battery energy storage system. Installed at a cost of over JMD 3.3M, the system comprises a 4-kw solar system, as well as a 5-kw peak output Tesla Powerwall, that provides 13.5 kw of usable energy. The library now sources all of its operating energy from solar energy, essentially eliminating its operating costs associated with energy usage. 

The project enhances the library’s utility as a public resource, through the addition of charging stations for phones and computers for those enjoying the library. Further, it allows the library to become a place of refuge during emergencies like storms, hurricanes and power outages, providing energy, light and safety to those who need it. 

Along with the solar installation, the library is now home to a renewable energy education center provided by BMR, so that library patrons and visitors may have access to informative resources about the impacts and benefits of solar and wind power in Jamaica and about the library’s own solar energy system.

We installed an educational board in the library on renewable energy and its sustainable value. It is intended that the Malvern community, which hosts some of the island’s foremost educational institutions, will use this experience to widen local knowledge on green energy solutions. 

The donated package features:

  • A monitor which allows users to view in real time, the operation of the system, displaying specific energy generation, storage, and usage.
  • A renewable energy center providing information on renewable energy and its value proposition.
  • An initiative to combine tours of the Malvern Branch Library solar system with tours of the wind farm, which neighbors the library.
  • Training for the Jamaica Library Service technical staff in the operation and maintenance of the energy system, during the three years that BMR will maintain the system cost free.

“This project represents a great convergence of science, energy and technology to serve the people and make their lives better… There is no one path to building a brighter future for Jamaica, and initiatives between the public and private sectors are crucial to securing Jamaica’s energy future,” said Daryl Vaz, Jamaica’s Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, in a commendation of the project.

Marie Thompson, Director General of the Jamaica Library Service, and Ava Tomlin, BMR Regional Director for Jamaica, cut the ribbon at the library’s solar project grand opening.

Post Construction Avian Monitoring Program

After construction of our 36 MW wind farm in Jamaica, we implemented a multiyear process to monitor avian species around it and to understand the impacts the facility might have had on birds and bats in the area. 

We developed a program in which we collaborated with Munro College and the Hampton School to train a group of students to complete field work that was essential to the study. Students were trained by Dr. Paul Kerlinger, an ornithologist and bird expert, to monitor the effects of the wind farm on avian species and conduct periodic surveys of the area. The program was the Caribbean’s first-ever post construction avian monitoring program.

Read more here.

BMR’s commitment lies in enhancing the well-being of people in the areas of our operations. We strive to create a secure and prosperous community by generating employment opportunities and collaborating with local enterprises. By mitigating the impact of climate change and promoting regional climate resiliency, we directly contribute to making a difference.

Our initiatives to impact the community include upgrading infrastructure, offering educational programs on renewable energy, and engaging in community development projects. We take pride in presenting our latest community-focused initiatives with a STEM-centric approach.