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TT going green

THE GREEN theory is rapidly gaining traction in Trinidad and Tobago. Apart from the constant calls to plant more trees and the hope that greater emphasis be placed on recycling, the area that seems to be getting the most attention these days is the use of energy from the sun.

Observers (builders and home owners) are now trying to understand this sudden emphasis on solar energy in the country. Solar energy is nothing new to the region. It simply is that much use was never made of this powerful energy source. Several smaller Caribbean islands have been using this form of energy for decades – Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts/Nevis and St Lucia, to name a few.

Unlike Trinidad and Tobago however, those island states did not have oil and therein lies the reason. There was no pressure for this country to go solar, but now that Scott-Ryder among others, is forecasting a continuous decline in our oil production, suddenly there is a call to look for alternative sources of sustainable and renewable energy.

Answering that call is a small Sangre Grande-based company called SolarGray (sic)Limited, which is forging ahead with getting more and more businesses, as well as homeowners interested in the use of solar energy.

Company principals – Chris-Andy Gray, Chief Executive Officer, Dr Derek Skeete, Chief Operations Officer and Chris Gadsby, Marketing Manager – are firm believers in the benefits of solar energy and are determined to share these benefits with potential customers. They have already trained a cadre of technicians, who are ready to hit the road to make solar energy use a must in Trinidad and Tobago.

CEO Gray gave Business Day three reasons why solar energy is beneficial to the country-:

• “In Trinidad and Tobago, our insolation (sic) values (intensity of the sun on any given day over a specific period), is a lot higher than most other places on the planet;

• Our ambient air temperature is well suited for solar in that it’s continually warm, not much fluctuation; and

• Solar panels are better because we are just 10 degrees above the Equator, so there is no need for a frame.”

Gray, who has always been involved in agri-science and environmental science got involved in solar technology in the United States, while at the Clean Energy Academy in Port Ewen in New York. It was while at the Academy, Gray realised the technology could be very useful in Trinidad and Tobago. Back home in Sangre Grande, the young entrepreneur began doing research and testing of the technology under local conditions.

He said, “Over time we have become so heavily dependent on non-renewable sources of energy (oil, gas etc.), all finite and believed it was time to begin investing in renewable, sustainable sources of energy and which can be applied to daily living in Trinidad and Tobago in a cost effective and common sense way.”

SolarGray Ltd, was registered a little more than a year ago, but during that time it engaged a lot of testing all over the country — north, south and central — to determine how applicable was the technology and to position itself to take advantage on any efforts, public or private, in the implementation of solar energy use and would in the initial stages provide more than two dozen jobs.

Gray said the objective of his company was one that was seriously service-oriented and aimed at providing a quality of service not yet seen in Trinidad and Tobago, which is why he has ensured a trained team of technicians all ready to get the energy revolution going. He said with his team he plans to “effect meaningful change in the industry and since it can still be regarded as a virgin industry locally, he sees the need to set high standards.”

He said it was the desire of his company to offer solar to everyone, regardless of standing in the community, through affordable purchase plans, including a layaway component. SolarGray’s technicians have been fully trained in both installation and maintenance of solar thermosyphon systems, while the salespeople, who would be known as Energy Auditors, would, having listened to the customer, explain the several options of how to save on energy costs through solar as well as options to pay. All energy audits are free.

COO Dr Derek Skeete has a doctorate in environmental science/environmental engineering as well as being certified in PhotoVoltaic and solar thermal thermosyphon systems. He said all that was needed was the effective implementation of the technology and SolarGray wants to be in the forefront of this effort and plans to stay for the long haul. SolarGray’s units are priced from $2500 through $10,000 with a 25-year lifespan.


Category/ies:Trinidad and Tobago News.
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