UWI focused on energy

Renewable energy talk: Caribbean LED CEO Jim Reid (left) greets Solar Dynamics boss James Husbands (second
right), while Principal Sir Hilary Beckles (second left) and Erskine Simmons look on.

The University of the West Indies is striving to be the main driver of a renewable energy revolution in Barbados.

Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research, Professor Wayne Hunte told an audience at the launch of the Cave Hill Campus’ renewable energy initiative this morning that despite efforts to introduce such new concepts locally, it still has not permeated society to the extent that those in the field would like.

This will not happen without a strong relationship with the private sector, he contended, noting that the university was working with several partners, including the Developing Island Renewable Energy Knowledge and Technology Transfer Network on its own renewable energy drive.

Hunte said the DIREKT pilot project involved the creation of an energy demonstration facility at the campus which would be used for teaching, as a research laboratory and as a sustainable mechanism to demonstrate renewable energy technologies in action.

The project, he said, had required the purchasing of a 1kW wind turbine, a scientific grade weather station, with plans to secure a 5kW dual-access tracking high concentration PV system.

“The project was able to purchase a lot of equipment to put this thing in place, but not without the assistance of the campus. So it was very much a joint effort of the DIREKT project with the Cave Hill Campus,” he said.

The head of research added: “The demonstration facility in the sense of a laboratory to demonstrate this is one thing; but what I wanted to compliment the campus on beyond that, because it really showed creative leadership in this context, is to take the next step and that is to decide, the entire campus is going to be a demonstration facility for renewable energy and alternative energy use and the project has helped to do that.” He said that campus had already begun the process of transforming many of the purchased pieces of equipment to move them to a more efficient kind of operation.

The project has acted as a catalyst to the launch of a move toward more renewable energy introduction at the campus, he added, because the university had already made the decision to move in this direction.

“There is an absolute need for us as a country and a region to shift from fossil fuel importation for our energy supply, to use of our own indigenous energy sources.”

The Pro-Vice Chancellor said he saw the university playing a role in several respects — in doing the research to identify the barriers to implementation and making recommendations to overcome them; interfacing with stakeholders to create the right policy framework and necessary incentives; to work openly with the private sector and most importantly to lead by example.

“At the University of the West Indies, we have to practice what we preach. We can’t teach these things in the classroom and hope that somebody else goes and does them. We have to do what we are in fact doing here. We have to transform our own activity with respect to maximising efficiency and with respect to the use of renewable energy technologies on our campus and in our universities.

“It is really by doing that that we are a model to our communities and lead them in the context of what they should do to follow. But it is also in our own self-interest, because it is through the implementation of those things that we get the cost savings that will contribute to the university’s own effective financial management because the savings that ultimately flow from that approach is meaningful and significant,” said Hunte. (LB)

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