BREA 2016 Renewable Conference A Success
From well-reasoned approaches on how to execute a mission of shifting economic dependence away from fossil fuel to engagement of students and civil society, a regional two-day conference and exhibition in Barbados has been hailed as an overwhelming success.
Special, sponsored accommodation was made for students, education officials, teachers and other civil society practitioners to attend, participate and in the case of primary and secondary students display their project creations in various areas related to the conference theme : Sustainable Caribbean Energy Independence : Making It Happen.
The 250-plus attendees heard over the two days at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre heard from Government ministers from the Seychelles, St. Lucia and Barbados about the initiatives and challenges towards achieving economies based on 100 per cent use of renewable energy technologies.
It was an opportunity to learn about the use of pump hydro, a water-reservoir approach to generating electricity on a large scape, about the attractions of adopting wind turbine plans and about storage of energy and the prevailing solar photo voltaic trend to self-generation of energy. Barbados is among regional countries actively encouraging their citizens to reduce residential and business dependence on crude oil-based electricity to the opportunities for investment by citizens, regardless of their social and income brackets.
Students seized the opportunity to have basic questions answered about technology and investment. For example, one members of the audience sought an explanation of storage.
The organisers, the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA), seized the opportunity to meet with regional participants and solicit their contact details for follow-up on collaboration. One of the goals of the conference, held in partnership with the Central Bank of Barbados (CBB), the Government of Barbados and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), supported by the government of Canada was to take the first steps towards setting up a regional civil society organisation to push renewable energy development.
Civil society engagement in renewable energy work in the Caribbean has been described as limited, hence the importance placed by the organising committee on civil society collaboration.
The global recognition that crude oil imports have a debilitating impact and indeed place economies in developing countries in dire difficulty, constraining growth and a focus on social welfare needs of citizens, was lamented.
Also noted by speakers such as the minister responsible for energy in the Seychelles, Didier Dogley, St. Lucia’s former prime minister Stephenson King, Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and regulators such as Marsha Atherley-Ikechi, director of utility regulation with the Fair Trading Commission in Barbados was the need for clear energy policies to guide the regulator.
The conference, from November 10 to 11, provided an opportunity for town and country planning issues and approaches to be aired. Investors heard from Mark Cummins, who heads the Town and Country Planning Department in Barbados, about land and technology-related constraints, such as the height and location of towards and why they present a hazard to airport management as well as a perceived conflict with the use of prime agricultural land.
But Cummins also provided positive news about developments which would aid investors, including new technology to be provided at the airport which could remove the limitation on wind turbine height.
Student displays sponsored by Barbados Light & Power Co Ltd ranged from the use the sun to cook food to, organic farming and the use of water to generate energy. And, like the businessmen who showcased their products and services, the students also seized the opportunity to network and gain insight into how their projects might be taken to the next step.
The conference was supported by government’s energy division and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the context of national celebrations marking the island’s attainment of political independence from Britain 50 years ago.
by Hallam Hope