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‘Uncompetitive’ if No Renewable Energy Embrace

Bahamian companies that fail “to embrace” renewable energy and related efficiencies are “not likely to be competitive going into the future”, a US Embassy official suggested yesterday.

Praising the Bahamas for “taking the lead in the region” when it came to discussing and implementing green technologies and renewable energy solutions, Alexander Sokoloff, said the upcoming November 4-5 Energy Forum provided an “economic opportunity” for this nation’s businesses and residents.

“Quite frankly, companies and businesses that don’t embrace these options are not likely to be competitive going into the future,” Mr Sokoloff warned. “Without the private sector taking the lead, I don’t think any of these things will really succeed.”

Among the companies attending the Energy Forum will be Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC), the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) and Baha Mar’s ocean thermal energy partner, plus Bloom Energy. Their technologies, Mr Sokoloff said, would “change the way we do business based on energy conservation and the way we use the types of energy deployed”.

Expressing hope that the upcoming Energy Forum and related trade show would provide a platform for numerous partnerships to be forged between Bahamas-based entities and overseas renewable energy suppliers, Mr Sokoloff said this would “lead to the Bahamas becoming a model in efficient, sustainable energy practices for the region – and eventually the world”.

Cyprian Gibson, committee chair for the Bahamas Home and Builders Show, which is being held alongside the Energy Forum from November 4-6, said this nation had made “significant progress” in advancing the use of renewable energy sources, together with the National Energy Policy and associated regulatory and legal amendments that were required.

“To deploy such technology, especially in the building and infrastructure sector, there is a long lead time,” Mr Gibson explained. “We have traditionally used building blocks for homes, but it took 10 years to get foam built or form built structures into that product and make it available. It takes time.”

Explaining that it took time to develop and trial new products and technologies, then determine whether they were commercially viable, Mr Gibson added: “What we see happening in the Bahamas is that policy is linking up, industry partners are joining up, leading to better deployment of technology.”

Once the technology was in place, new rules and regulations had to be designed for the relevant sector. “These things take time but we’re moving in the right direction, and this [Energy Forum] will help to catapult us forward.

“Typically, it takes about five-10 years to deploy new technology in the infrastructure sector. The Bahamas has an opportunity to move that process, and that’s what we see happening.”

Astrid Wynter, the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) country head for the Bahamas, said the energy-related initiative the bank was working on with the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) and other countries was designed to give small hotels access to the global carbon credits market.

By combining their efforts, Ms Wynter said they would have “much more substantial credits that can be traded on the market”, enabling these resorts to achieve a return on their investment in green, renewable technologies.

The IDB official said there was no reason why this initiative could not be expanded to groups of Bahamian businesses, or community groups, once the enabling regulatory framework was in place and traders were engaged to act on their behalf.

Winston Rolle, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) chairman, expressed hope that the Energy Forum would become an annual event, with the organisers not wanting to see it become “a flash in the pan”.



Category/ies:Bahamas News.
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