Forum highlights Renewable Energy

The Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Public Utilities hosted the first of three private sector fora at the Belize Biltmore Plaza this morning, vlcsnap-2013-02-07-20h01m15s232focusing on importing and championing renewable energy sources in Belize. Opening the event, was Minister of State for Economic Development, Santino Castillo, who pledged his Ministry’s support for the initiative. Presentations throughout the day focused on successful uses of renewable energy – solar, wind, hydro and biomass in particular – by local businesses across various sectors. Minister Senator Joy Grant told PLUS News that in addition to reducing Belize’s “carbon footprint” – the amount of fossil fuels such as petroleum we use – renewable energy creates jobs, investment and economic opportunity.

JOY GRANT – Senator:
vlcsnap-2013-02-07-20h11m45s148In my remarks this morning, I did say that Government has a very important role to play.  We need to do two things, I believe, right now. One: look at the legislation.  Some of it’s been done many, many years ago, before we thought about things like renewable energy.  So I have to look at that, and put in place things that I spoke about, feeding, tariffs, and all these big terms. But what that really means – that if you get involved in renewable energy, and you have excess energy.  You’re able to sell that to the grid.  So they will buy it, and then they will then distribute that.  So I think that we have to do that. But we also have to look at the incentives currently being offered.  Again when we had those incentives in place, we didn’t think about renewable energy,  So I have a consultant that’s coming to look at the incentives we’re offering now, but also look at incentives in other countries that have increased investment in renewable energy.

Minister Grant added that some local projects in renewable energy are already reaping benefits and the plan is to extend that to households.

JOY GRANT – Senator:
We are absolutely sure that anything from Biomass is where we should be going.  For example, we already have a very successful project BELCOGEN, and there are ways for them to do more generation.  We can do a dew more months, and I know they’re looking at how this can be done.  But if you look at Belize, we have so much natural growth here, that we really don’t need to cut down any trees, or do anything like that at this point, to got the source that we will need for that.  So that is the one that, from all our studies, is the most profitable, but certainly for smaller scale, and maybe for individuals, of course is solar, because it’s not too expensive.  I have had solar water heater in my house for over 20 years, and I never have had to change anything.  So I paid back for it long ago, and I’m saving every month since then.

And with specific regard to electricity, Belize is seeking alternatives to the burden of buying power from Mexico, according to the Minister.

JOY GRANT – Senator:
There is a meeting that we are going to be having very soon, over in Mexico, where we are going to be presenting alternatives through the Government, where we could get energy, not at the most expensive price that we are paying right now, but at a more comparative rate which will help us.  But certainly in the long term, as I have said, I would like 30% of our energy needs from renewables by 2030.  And I think we have to look at the mix, because some are very capital intensive early on, like if your doing bio-fuels, you need a factory, you need certain things.  So we want to do that.  We want investment to come and do that.  For example, Barbados, they have 45,000 households using solar, because you are allowed to get a write-off when you bought the equipment.  If we could do some of those policies, then I’ll be doing it at an industrial level, but also at the smaller level, and the individual level.

Presenters include the Public Utilities Commission, Belize Electricity Limited and businesses such as Belize Dry Cleaners in Belize City and Blancaneaux Lodge in Cayo.

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