BARBADOS | Skilled Persons Vital To Renewable Energy Sector says Energy Minister

From left: IDB representative Juan Carlos De La Hoz Viñas; SJPI Principal, Ian Drakes; Education Minister, Santia Bradshaw, Energy Minister, Kerrie Symmonds; New Head of Delegation to the EU, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, and Permanent Secretary, Special Projects in the Ministry of Energy, Andrew Gittens, admiring the Energy Champion Brand after its unveiling today. (J. Carrington/BGIS)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 28, 20231 - Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, has reiterated the need for a skilled labour force to be trained to install, maintain and service renewable energy technologies, as the island continues apace to meet the 2030 renewable energy target.

He renewed the call today while addressing the official launch of the Energy Champion Building branding ceremony at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI), making that entity the first public sector building to carry this designation.

Mr. Symmonds told the gathering that persons who are competent in photovoltaics, biogas and other renewable energy technologies will be critical to the e-transport revolution in Barbados in the future.

He added: “That would mean changing out an entire fleet of over 120,000 vehicles on the roads of Barbados by 2030, to have an e-transportation sector in this country, where hardly any exists. Along with that would come the necessary installations to be able to service and maintain those vehicles, and keep them functioning on the roads as we go forward.”

Mr. Symmonds continued: “So, there is a lot of business to be done and that is why we need to have that human resource capacity and to churn it out as quickly as possible.”

The Energy Minister also shared that at a recent meeting with CARICOM Energy Ministers, the anticipation was that by 2030, approximately 40 per cent of member states would be using renewable energy.

Given this expectation, Mr. Symmonds reasoned that there would be a huge demand for human capacity and this presented an excellent opportunity for Barbadians to find substantial employment opportunities in Barbados and within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. 

“Therefore, it is an excellent opportunity for us not only to future proof our country, but to assist the region in ‘future proofing’ itself as we do this, and why?  On any given year, Barbados spends, in terms of our foreign exchange resources…about US$450 to $500 million on the importation of fossil fuels. In the event of some challenges in the Middle East and elsewhere, that figure can soar to US$800 million,” he underlined.

The Energy Minister described the project executed by his Ministry as an “important effort and pointed out that between 16 to 20 per cent or one-fifth of electricity consumption in Barbados was by the public sector.

He stated: “It was only fitting that Government leads by example in its effort to ensure that we advance and accelerate the effort towards renewable energy and energy efficiency in the consumption of energy and to take Barbados further down the road.”  

Mr. Symmonds said the SJPI was chosen as the first Energy Champion building because the institution has already undergone an extensive energy efficiency retrofitting and 102 kilowatts of photovoltaic panels had been installed on the roof of its buildings.  

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