Creating a more energy efficient Barbados and providing consumers with affordable energy alternatives is the mandate which has been given to the National Electrotechnical Committee, a recently established body.
The BNSI’s National Electrotechnical Committee (NEC), which held its first meeting earlier this year comprises representatives from both the public and private sectors.
Chief Technical Officer with the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) and Secretary to the Committee, Fabian Scott, explained that Government’s thrust towards a Green Economy and the phasing-out of inefficient lighting, was part of the impetus for the Committee’s creation.
Mr. Scott explained that the mandate of the NEC was "…standardisation in the fields of electrical and electronic products, renewable and alternate energy technologies, household, commercial and similar electrical appliances, energy efficiency and lighting". He further noted that standards and labelling for domestic appliances, LED lights and solar photovoltaic systems also fell under their ambit.
Noting that it was not their plan to reinvent the wheel, the Chief Technical Officer explained that both international and regional standards would be consulted and tailored to the island’s needs.?? He said that while the standards would be voluntary "…there is the expectation at some point in the future, based on the government’s objective which is to ultimately reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, that the responsible agency for energy will pass the necessary regulation to either make the standard compulsory, or use the requirements of the standard to [create] a regulation," he said.
With regard to the Barbados National Standard for energy labelling, Mr. Scott stressed that corporate Barbados would be a part of the development process, noting that the committee would meet the retailers of major household appliances?? and consult with them on the?? final draft of the standard before publishing it.?? Speaking specifically to energy labelling of appliances, Mr. Scott revealed that "it is not difficult for the retailers to do, they just have to request that the manufacturer who they purchase [the appliance] from ensures that the product has the energy label or has the required information.
In the event that the energy consumption is not given we have built into the standard, a flexibility which allows for a national energy label, so even if the manufacturer does not provide [it], as long as they have the information to fill in the Barbados energy label, that is acceptable," he said.
According to the Secretary to the Committee, while members of the public should be encouraged to get on board with green living, it should be acknowledged that all energy-saving products were not created equal.?? He believes that consumer confidence could be eroded if people purchased substandard products that do not perform. As a result, he said the NEC had identified five standards that they have prioritised, including one that would address salt mist corrosion of solar panels, an important consideration in Barbados’ tropical climate.
Stating that the NEC had already approved six energy-related standards to be published, Mr. Scott highlighted the fact that the NEC continues to be proactive in its efforts, with hopes that the country could move from being an observing member of the hemispheric standard-setting body for the Americas, COPANT, and adopt a more participatory role.
The NEC is currently chaired by Dr. Erwin Edwards, President of the Barbados Association of Energy Professionals and includes other organisations such as the Barbados Renewable Energy Association, the Barbados Light and Power Company Ltd., the Division of Energy and Telecommunications, the Technical Education and Vocational Training Council, as well as individuals drawn from private entities in the energy sector and academia.