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Caribbean Nations Focus On Energy Efficiency, Solar Power

August 28, 2013 By Paul Nastu

Solar array Dominican RepublicThe Dominican Republic has a 1.5 MW solar array with panels from Solar World that sits by the side of the runway in the Cibao International Airport. The solar panels represent the largest installation in the Caribbean island nation.

The project was developed and installed by Dominican-based Trace Solar within the framework of the country’s renewable energy laws, which use tax incentives and net metering to encourage solar deployment. The array is expected to generate 193,000 kWh per month.

Caribbean nations burn through 35 million barrels of oil that they import to generate electricity and are turning to energy efficiency measures to lower their fuel use. Belize will lead four other island nations — Antigua, Barbuda, Granada, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago — in a $12.4 million energy for sustainable development project that will focus on slashing greenhouse gas emissions, IPS News reports.

Chief among the measures are boosting the capacity for energy audits, launching new building codes, labeling appliances as energy saving and setting best practice benchmarks for companies to lower their energy usage.

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Center in Belize launched this initiative, and it hopes that all 15 countries in the region will embrace these measures eventually. Technical coordinator for the program, Dr. Al Binger, cited the example of Jamaica and how it had to give up its banana growing industry due to climate change, but has built up an extensive rail network to transport the bananas. IPS News reports that  he wants to avoid such missteps and help the island nations plan infrastructure that will be in tune with the changing climate and economic conditions of the future.

The tourism industry in the region is also waking up to the need for energy efficiency in their operations. In February, hoteliers from throughout The Bahamas attended the launch of the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Action-Advanced Program (CHENACT-AP).  The objective of the CHENACT-AP in The Bahamas is to improve the competitiveness of small and medium sized hotels (with fewer than 400 rooms) through improved use of energy, with the emphasis on renewable energy and micro-generation.

Image credit: Solar array at Cibao International Airport, courtesy of Solar World

 



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