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The University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus is hoping, through the opening of its renewable energy teaching and research laboratory, to assist with the expansion of the renewable energy sector here.

Saying the learning facility had an important role to play within the emerging sector, officials of the university say the lab would provide an enabling environment for students, researchers and investors.

Delivering opening remarks at the recent launch of the laboratory at the Physics Department, dean of the faculty of Science and Technology Dr Colin Depradine, said: “The faculty is seeking to help develop a sustainable approach to the long-term growth of science and technology in the region”.

He said there were five “key areas” the university would be focusing on: collaboration, openness, funding, education and research.

“With regards to outreach we have plans to educate our youngsters in the primary and secondary schools. That is very important because they are the future. Once we set it up we need to be assure that they continue with it. And the lab will form a point of collaboration with all stakeholders,” said Depradine.

The laboratory was presented with solar panels from three companies: Williams Evergreen, Innogen and the Barbados Light & Power Renewables.

In his remarks, Sir Hilary Beckles, principal and pro-vice chancellor, said the time for talk about expanding the emerging sector was long gone.

“We are now at the cusp of application; finding the right set of relationships to develop a culture of implementation and in all of this I believe the university is absolutely critical . . . we have an important role to play in assisting investors private and public capital to work with the university in order to industrialize this knowledge which is available to us,” said Sir Hilary.

He said: “The purpose of this facility is to bring the investors, researchers, the policymakers together in order to test not only the technology, but to see what needs to be done by way of domesticating it for our environment. This facility is a platform on which we are laying the foundations for the next steps into applications”.

Adding that like the country and the rest of the region the university was spending “a pretty tidy sum” on energy consumption, Sir Hilary said the high cost of energy was impacted on “the competitiveness of our industries, productivity and innovation”. (MM) 

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