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Solar technology for Trinidad & Tobago

As T&T’s energy resources continue to decline, two young businessmen are making a concerted effort to develop a solar technology industry and promote green business in T&T. Curtis Noel, CEO of Minerals of the Earth (MOTE) and Damien Carter, CEO of Diversified Project Planning Solutions (DPPS), who are very enthused with the idea told the Business Guardian in an interview they believed that “the time is ripe and T&T is a ready market”. The companies, a newly formed alliance, will be regional distributors of solar technology for Lunar Solar Technology. Carter said that the main vision of this business was to impose change for green business to actually work in T&T. He said that they have the support of the various entities that will bring the technical know-how that can help generate the right concept. Noel said their companies, which were given the franchise last year, will be offering more advanced solar panels known as Helios and Zeta. These are the flagship brands of Lunar Solar Technology and they are targetting the Caricom region and the wider Caribbean. “Unlike North America and other countries that have embarked on renewable energy and are quite successful at it, T&T has sunlight almost 365 days for the year. Thus, the country has the resources to maximise this opportunity,” Noel asserted.

Businessmen Curtis Noel, left, CEO of Minerals of the Earth (MOTE) and Damien Carter, CEO of Diversified Project Planning Solutions (DPPS) showed their advanced solar technology panels during EMA’s Green Business Forum, last week at the Hilton Hotel, Port-of-Spin Photo by Eddison Boodoosingh.

 

In a passionate tone, Noel said while focusing on the business aspect of promoting and distributing solar panels, their aim is to also help businesses develop a green mind-set. The businessmen have been part of the Environmental Management Authority’s (EMA) thrust to encourage “green business” as they participated in the Authority’s Green Business Forum last week. At that function, at which Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar delivered the feature address, the CEO of EMA Joth Singh said that global economic growth has been accompanied by concerns surrounding food security, availability of energy and environmental impacts as a result of natural disasters. Consequently, he said many countries have been focusing on environmental sustainability and finding new and creative ways to reduce environmental impacts. “Hence, one such way is looking at renewable energy.”

Solar technology…a market for T&T

Noel, who was a key account manager for 11 years at Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, left his job February 2010 to embark on distributing solar products and services for Lunar Technology, which is headquarted in Miami. Noel explained that when Richard Sabga, co-owner of Lunar, approached him with the idea, there was no doubt in his mind that he would embark on the project. He noted that with his expertise in marketing and Carter’s expertise in solar and renewable resources, they were able to develop a very strong alliance, whereby DPPS would be the front face of all the solar projects. The duo stated that while they would be distributing to the region and multinational firms,locally their main target markets would be the Government, communities, households and businesses. The partnership will be offering two main units for the solar technology panels: Helios, which is used for domestic purposes where customers can enjoy a five-year warranty.

The other unit is the Zeta, which is used for larger and commercial areas. Carter explained that Zeta is a more powerful unit that provides a stronger illumination and carries a three year warranty. He said all target markets, once invested in this initiative, would benefit as they would offer these products at competitive prices. “There are benefits to be derived especially in the reduction of electricity bills and in the reduction of immediate maintenance cost from the normal gas bulbs,” Carter said. The partnership is also seeking to provide efficient solar street lighting and lunar road lights throughout T&T, especially in rural communities, and security perimeter lighting for domestic purposes and small business. He added that their diverse products and services include general solar solutions for companies that are interested in simple and reasonable ways to become green and in particular for offshore and marine purposes.

The Bigger picture and cost

Admitting that green business was a very difficult area to get into, Carter said once it is done collectively and it begins from the ground level, it can be achieved. He said the partnership will help companies find simple, step-by-sstep solar solutions in an effort to become green. Carter said that while the initial cost of the solar solution may be high, businesses and households alike would enjoy a significant return on investment in the future. Looking at the bigger picture, he asserted that once there is the right framework, procedures and policies in place, it would make it easier for businesses to accomplish going green.
Similarly, Noel said going green required new policies.  “The government needs to begin establishing polices that are geared towards managing manufacturers, so they can be held accountable.”

This would also include the modification of current laws and policy framework, for example, tax credits on green projects, he added. “We know everything is a cost and it has to make financial sense to any business before they can go green, but there is a greater cost that needs to be considered; the environmental impact.” Carter said businesses must begin to think of doing things differently before the harsh realities hit. He called on them to be proactive and innovative in their business practices. Carter advised that businesses must begin looking at the risks versus the benefits. Drawing from the example on Japan’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a tsunami that devastated parts of the country, Carter said, “Had they thought about investing some of their budget in alternative energy rather than nuclear power, they may have been less risk involved. “Despite the economic benefit derived from the nuclear power, the risk is now almost wiping away those benefits,” he noted.

Think Global
As such, Carter said many countries are turning to renewable resources. This has also become a major concern for business as damage to the environment in relation to business practices now is included in the actual cost of doing business. Thus, corporate and industrial sectors are demonstrating greater interest in environmentally sustainable business practices. Carter said he observed that the business community, and by extension the country, has the will and the attitude to succeed in making the transformation to a green business culture. “Hence, we would like to encourage as a business, the working groups and others to start thinking and looking globally at what can work in T&T.” He recommended that initiatives geared towards renewable energy that cannot work in T&T should not be adopted—but solar technology is a good start as the country has the right resources.

The partnership will have its official launch in May when demonstrations and presentations will made by international experts on solar energy. Carter said the partnership will work on getting the right systems in and it was their hope that this will motivate the country to embark on more research and development, so that T&T will become one of the countries with the intellectual ability to produce solar panels from scratch. He said that the partnership would also be looking at wind farms, targeting the east coast area.
He stated that the engineering behind these wind turbines is redesigned to capture the maximum wind.
The company has number of green innovative pilot projects and initiatives that will be launched over a period of time that will be beneficial to all citizens.

About Damien Carter

Carter has a solid background in the  oil and gas industry. His company, DPPS, was established six years ago and is located in San Fernando He also has extensive experience in project management in various areas such as construction for both local and multinational companies, offshore field and maintenance planning and construction management DPPS provides diversified solutions in all areas.

About Curtis Noel

Noel established MOTE one year ago and began providing services from March, 2011. MOTE was first involve in aggregate, lumber and mining of gold and lime stone in Jamaica. Noel said he established strong contacts in these areas  and hence, decided to utilise these resources to open his company.

Countries in green economy

• US-President Obama invested US $71 billion(Stimulus Package) into sustainable energy and environmental incentives and US$20 billion into green tax incentives

• Korea launched its Green New Deal, which is designed to create close  to 1 million jobs

• Turkey invested in domestic wind turbine factories for local and export use

• Masdar City in Abu Dhabi has embarked on building the world’s first Carbon Neutral city full powered by renewable energy

 

Source: Business Guardian



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