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Our Future in Energy

Louisiana is an oil and gas rich southern state in the United States of America. It was the first site for drilling over water for the production of petroleum in the world.

Its economy is dominated by the energy sector. Since their discoveries of oil under the sea floor they have continued to push the boundaries of offshore drilling by going further out into deeper and deeper waters in search of new oil and gas fields to exploit.

It is not far-fetched to state that Louisiana is a window into the future for Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad also has a heavily dependent economy on oil and gas and over the years exploration has been expanding further out into deep waters as the low lying fruit has been expended.

Unfortunately for the whole world to see, the limits and risk of deeper exploration have now been revealed.

I am talking of course about the massive and continuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. Due to the depth of the rupture in the pipeline under water, it is now very technically difficult to repair it.

To put the spill in perspective, it is equivalent to the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 off the coast of Alaska (11 million US gallons) every 14 days. The cost to the environment is untold; the cost to the fishing industry is already being felt.

Do we in Trinidad want to go down this path where we continue to base our existence on a finite resource that has the potential to devastate our precious environment from the exploration and production of it?

What will it take for us to change our course, maybe an oil or natural gas leak off the coast of Tobago?

We are living in an era where the need to switch to clean energy is becoming more and more evident especially due to man-made disasters and the effects of global climate change. The US administration has reiterated its call to the renewable energy industry to meet the challenges to get America off its addiction to oil. Countries like China are speeding ahead in the renewable energy front. Production of solar cells for electricity are doubling every year. Energy security is now a major priority for many nations. A majority of top economists say that renewable energy must be part of the energy mix for countries to maintain their stability in the future. From experience as a solar energy consultant (Masters in solar energy from Australian University), I see a lot of excitement in this field.

French based company Bouygues Construction is currently starting major solar powered plant projects in France. The Tanzanian government is gaining technical advice from German private companies on how to turn to renewable energy for power. Close to home there is the development of solar street lighting in the Dominican Republic and the adoption of clean energy policy for Grenada and so on.

My company, Smart Energy Limited (www.ttsmartenergy.com)  is involved in solar out door lighting and renewable energy courses in Trinidad and Tobago.

As a nation will we miss the boat to capitalise on a new technology that will revolutionise the world and will we continue to be stuck in the oil age to our own environmental detriment? I believe it is time for change.

IAN SMART

CEO Smart Energy Ltd.

www.ttsmartenergy.com



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