Solar shift


by Latoya Burnham

The East Coast could be the first beneficiary of the single largest solar street lighting project on the island, and the investment could be in the range of $1 million-plus.

Minister of Transport and Works, John Boyce told an audience this morning at the launch of the Chance Hall Depot’s wind turbine project that there were plans afoot to replace the island’s traffic signals and streetlights with LED and solar-powered fixtures.

It was part of the drive towards energy efficiency, the minister said, adding however that it was the branching out of these initiatives into other areas that he wanted to see more interest in.

“I certainly would like to see the emphasis placed on new areas and I had a chat with the permanent secretary just this week about that and indeed this further brought home on Sunday evening when I was on the East Coast Road again and I feel that the East Coast Road can be an ideal location for a stand-alone solar-powered street lighting project, so that along with moving towards energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy, we are actually building capacity in terms of building out our infrastructure.

“So we are thinking along those lines that whereas we want to do our street lighting on our main highway, ABC Highway etcetera, certainly I think a thrust in the new areas would be one in which the ministry would want to consider, along with the Energy Division,” he said.

The initial plan, Boyce said, was for the installation of these renewable options to be done on a phased basis along the ABC Highway, but eventually expanding to include the entire island. He noted that there was already a small project of this kind in operation on Tudor Street, the City, where two streetlights are solar powered in an initiative of the Ministry of Energy and the Inter-American Development Bank.

After the launch he told Barbados TODAY that some initial work had already begun with Coral Ridge and Boarded Hall also having installed some measure of renewable energy lighting at those locals as well.

“[S]o the change over on the highway is being looked at, but I would also like to see the new capacity built by involving the more remote areas. I mentioned East Coast…

“We wouldn’t have cost yet, but I would imagine certainly a project to put lights on the East Coast Road, we would be looking at $1.5 million, as much as that. I could be totally out, but that is my best guess at this time.

“I haven’t looked at the cost and I don’t think the ministry has any as yet. They are now developing those figures, but I think this project would be in the $1.5 million to $2 million each as we tend to go forward. We wouldn’t want to do a massive $40 million or $50 million project at one time, but in smaller increments of $1 million or $1.5 million. I think that would be a sensible project,” he told this newspaper.

He noted too that the private sector would be an integral part of such solutions, identifying persons like Ralph Bizzy Williams of Williams everGREEN, James Husbands of Solar Dynamics and Solaris Global’s Vincent McClean as being pioneers in this renewable effort.

“The private sector, like everything else, is a partner and Government recognises that it has to put the incentives in place. As I mentioned at times we may need to put in place some kind of financial assistance even if only by way of tax concessions.

“Sometimes you have to go even further because this is a worldwide phenomenon and certainly the private sector has led,” he said, adding that he was getting calls almost daily from private sector individuals who wanted to get involved in the renewable thrust.

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