Khara Roches is the National Coordinator for the Energy for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean Project for Belize. Roches told Amandala that there are five countries participating in the project: Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines and Belize.
“The main goal”, Roches said, “is to reduce energy intensity by 20%.”
Roches added that they are hoping that by having today’s seminar, they can convince importers to get on board by illustrating the benefits to their businesses of adopting renewable energy and energy efficient practices.
In line with this effort, Franklyn Magloire, Assistant General Manager, Lending Operations, of the Development Finance Corporation (DFC), told Amandala, “DFC is collaborating with the Caribbean Development Bank and the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology & Public Utilities in providing $2 million dollars available to small and medium-sized businesses in order that they can invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.”
Magloire said that the maximum loan that any one business establishment can receive is $200,000, and it comes at a very competitive rate, which is 6% on the reducing balance.
Magloire explained that the way the program works is that an energy-efficient auditor would visit the premises of a participating establishment and “identify the uses of energy which are not very efficient, where there is wastage and how it could be reduced.”
The expert will prepare a business plan based on their findings, which the owner can take to DFC.
Then,” DFC will fund the loan”, Magloire said, “based on the business plan prepared for that person by the expert.”
Tobias Sengfelder is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Go Green Limited and a certified energy-efficient auditor who is certified to evaluate how a business can save energy by reducing energy or switching to energy-efficient products. Sengfelder told Amandala that there are energy efficient products such as a powder his business supplies that can be added to the paint of roofs and that will help keep buildings cooler. Also, trees can be planted around a building to keep it cooler and businesses can also replace regular light bulbs with LEDs (Light-Emitting Diode) which last longer and offer a better quality of light.
Roches continued by saying that the majority of our energy-intense processes depend on the use of fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas. At this point, it is not possible to reduce our importation of fossil fuel, but we want to avoid the need to increase it by adopting energy-efficient habits. Roches added that the project is a part of an initiative “to adapt and mitigate climate change” for our own benefit.
Henrik Personn, Renewable Energy Expert, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, told Amandala that Belize is very vulnerable to the effects of climate change, since it is low-lying, and one of the effects of climate change is that the sea level is rising, which can have a negative impact on Belize.
Credit: Amandala Belize