Government will be adopting a strategic plan as agreed to by other Ministers of Energy across the region, that would see the Centre for Renewable Energy partnering with Ministries of Education to assist with the development of a cadre of workers for the solar industry.
Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, said students pursuing studies in Mathematics, the Arts, Sciences and areas of technology would be the first point of interest.
Speaking today during the official launch of the Barbados National Oil Company Limited and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology’s Scholarship programme at the BNOCL, Woodbourne, St. Philip, Mr. Symmonds said the partnership was adopted during a recent online meeting with fellow Ministers of Energy.
He said it was important to tap the students’ potential and develop the requisite human resources at an early age, adding: “So that would be able to get them at the early stage at primary school and secondary school to be able to understand the importance of, and to buy-in to participating in the process of innovation in the use of renewable energy, as we chart out the way forward for the economies of the Caribbean.”
The Minister noted that Government had set a target of 2030 to have photovoltaics on the roofs of one third of the approximately 90,000 homes across Barbados.
He said this target would not be achieved if there is insufficient capacity at the human resources level to undertake this task.
The Minister also used the opportunity to commend BNOCL for introducing “poor man packages” that allow photovoltaics to be more accessible to average Barbadian householders.
“When we spoke about photovoltaics up to a few months ago, we were conceiving something that the ‘well-to-do’ in the higher echelons of the communities of the West Coast and some on the South would invest in but it was not something that you could realistically relate to if you lived in an ordinary village anywhere across Barbados.
“Through the excellent financial innovation and the willingness to partner with Government’s policy…they have been able to help us come up with packages that are accessible for as low as $60 a month and that automatically transforms the potential of the ordinary Barbadian man or woman to be able to have photovoltaics on his or her roof and to be able to control as an independent power producer the energy they consume…,” Mr. Symmonds disclosed.
He said he was heartened by the positive comments from a regional Minister of Energy who credited Barbados for being the leader in the importation of a fleet of electric buses.
“We have to recognise the things that we are doing in Barbados and do them well and we have to be prepared to build-out on that. If it is that we have the first fleet of electric buses and we know that we are going to have other vehicles that will be electric, we have to have the capacity to fix and maintain them. We actually need to have the business acumen…and the leadership in terms of helping the region build their capacity…should come from Barbados,” he maintained.
The 11 scholarships are valued at $1,000 per student. If students are enrolled in a two-year programme, they must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 in order to secure the scholarship for the second year of their programme.