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Campus lauded for initiative

Exchange student from Hamburg University, Germany, Jan Chmielewski demonstrates charging a laptop using the
new renewable energy station, while Caribbean LED CEO Jim Reid (left) and Principal Sir Hilary Beckles observe.

Even as head of the faculty leading the renewable energy drive at the Cave Hill Campus says there are stumbling blocks on the path to progress, the university is being lauded for its initiative.

Dean of the renamed Faculty of Science and Technology, Peter Gibbs, said it will be necessary to increase the electricity generated from renewable energies if the island is to move successfully away from fossil fuels.

Speaking at the launch of the campus’ DIREKT renewable energy initiative this morning, he noted that there were a number of stumbling blocks to such development locally.

He identified sunlight, wind in certain areas, and the production of biofuels as ways in which the island could take advantage of RE technologies.

“Locally we have some stumbling blocks to our development implementation and these appear to be – the need for more incentives from Government, changes in regulations to encourage more private generation or investment, lower capital costs, and attitude.

“Cutting that navel string from the power company will only be achieved if renewable energy can deliver nearly 100 per cent reliability and sustainability,” he said, adding that the recent effects of Hurricane Sandy was proof enough of the need to move in this direction.

Lecturer in the faculty, Dr. Thomas Rogers, told the audience at the launch of solar and wind powered energy technologies that there were now several undergraduate and graduate level programmes looking into renewable energies, or carrying some RE components.

He added that they were also about to launch some research into biogas using anaerobic digestion, since there was potential for the waste streams from agriculture and industry to be used in this way to produce electricity and a natural fertiliser.

“There is an urgent need to develop the knowledge networks between sustainable energy researchers, investors and financiers, entrepreneurs and industrialists and Government agencies and ministries with energy and economic development remits. We hope that the work that is being done at Cave Hill to improve our sustainable energy teaching and research capacity or develop or reinforce these knowledge networks and allow the country to become less reliant on fossil fuels and meet its renewable energy targets,” Rogers said. Even so, partner to the campus, Chief Executive of Caribbean LED Lighting, Jim Reid, congratulated the campus on the work it had already done.

There was much potential in the Caribbean as a whole and Barbados could be selling energy to the rest of the world with the development of renewables, he said.

“One of the things that frustrates us is that in Barbados there is never a week goes pass that there is not a conference on renewable energy and people get together and they talk and they talk and they talk. I think it is now time to take action, action, action. We have seen it here. It can be done; it makes sense and I applaud the University of the West Indies for taking the initiative,” said Reid. (LB)

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