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Apr 4, 2013

Stakeholders meet to discuss ways to reduce dependency on imported energy

While the government is hopeful that a recent oil find will boost government revenue, renewable energy remains top on its agenda. This morning, stakeholders in the industry gathered in Dangriga to discuss how alternative energy sources can translate into less dependency on imported energy. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Renewable energy, as an alternate means of producing electricity, was the focus of a day-long business forum in Dangriga, involving stakeholders from the private sector.  Entrepreneurs, particularly those operating in the generation of power from the sun, wind, water, as well as plant and animal waste, were all on hand to discuss methods through which alternative energy sources can be introduced to Belize.

 

Joy Grant, Minister of Energy & Science

Joy Grant

“This is to engage with the private sector to hear what they are doing, to explain to them especially about renewable energy and how they can be involved in it because there is huge potential for the private sector to get involved and to also be able to make quite significant profits.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“I notice that there is a significant focus on biomass, as well as wind energy and there is a third as well.  Can you explain why these have been singled out in terms of the focus here today?”

 

Joy Grant

“Well yes, and I’m glad you asked the question because the ministry has been focusing on biomass.  This is a country with about fifty-six percent still in natural cover.  So the issue with biomass has always been that you’re using arable land for biomass when you should be using it for food.  We don’t have that problem in Belize.  We will be able to get natural resources to fuel biomass projects and initiatives without taking away land from what is currently being used for agriculture.”

 

Kenrick Leslie

But, while there will not be a need for land reclamation, renewable energy is being explored across the region as a result of climate change.  Dr. Kenrick Leslie explained the correlation.

 

Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Exec. Dir., CARICOM Climate Change Center

“Climate change from the science has come about because of energy.  Energy also has a solution to the problems of climate change and therefore it is in our interest to use that opportunity to address it. We are not energy independent at the moment because we use most of our energy through importation of fossil fuel and back in 2008 when we had a spike in the cost of petroleum some of the countries in the Caribbean had to fork out as much as fifty percent of their foreign earnings to purchase fossil fuel.  Now if you have to pay out fifty percent, you see nothing is left for development and there it is in our interest to try and change, come with a new approach in terms of using our indigenous renewable energy.”

 

Doing so, according to Grant, will require regulations to be enforced by the Public Utilities Commission, since Belize Electricity Limited has a monopoly on the distribution of energy.

 

Joy Grant

“BEL is actually into the transmission business and not the production of energy and the laws on the books reflect that. So at this point, we don’t have things like feeding tariffs, etc. which will encourage the private sector to get into these areas. But, what the private sector needs to have at this point in time, is that they will be able to use whatever energy they produc3e, but be able to sell the rest to the national grid. That is exactly what the government’s role should be—to make sure that the regulations and the legislations on the books reflect this new reality.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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