Renewable Energy Training Plan For The Bahamas

The winner of an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded contract to install alternative energy technologies in several Bahamian homes has pledged to employ "a fully Bahamian workforce" and train others to work in the sector, unveiling plans to for launching an "accredited renewable energy school" accessible from this nation.

Speaking after signing a contract with the Government to supply and install solar water heaters and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, Guilden Gilbert, president of Alternative Power Sources (APS) Bahamas, said the courses offered by the school would all have US accreditation.

Pointing out that APS's Jamaica-based managing director, Damian Lyn, served as a renewable energy lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Mr Gilbert told Tribune Business: "One of the things that we're looking to do is that APS is very close to launching an accredited renewable energy school, which will be on offer here in the Bahamas as well.

"One of our goals in the Bahamas is to educate, train and hire Bahamians in renewable energy. The implementation of a renewable energy school will go a long way to providing renewable energy training, and with the certification received at the end of the course, Bahamians will be able to travel anywhere and install renewable energy systems.

"Our goal is to have a fully Bahamian workforce under APS, and develop a market where other companies enter the field with people who have been accredited. The reality is that there is no way we as a company can provide all the renewable energy sources for the entire Bahamas.

"We want to lead the transition to a renewable energy industry, and our goal is to create employment. We don't want a foreign workforce. We want trained Bahamians."

Apart from Mr Lyn, APS also provided other lecturers to the UWI's renewable energy technology courses. Mr Gilbert said APS ultimately wanted to take its school to all regional nations, as the aim was to educate a Caribbean market.

Mr Lyn told Tribune Business that when it came to renewable energies, the key for the Bahamas was the "right education" for consumers and the industry, and then to "get on with it". The IDB-funded contracts require APS to supervise the installation of the PV systems and solar water heaters on the selected number of Bahamian homes.

"We're excited as to what we could do, We get sun 365 days of the year, so we might as well take advantage of it," Mr Gilbert said.

Touting renewable energy's benefits, he added: "It reduces the carbon footprint, and the Bahamas at some point will be able to take advantage of carbon credits."

APS undertakes a lot of its own research and development, extensively testing renewable energy products before bringing them to the Bahamas, to ensure they can withstand the rigors of practical application.

The company is now set to commence testing a wind turbine which only requires two miles per hour winds to start generating electricity, as opposed to most contemporaries that need 12-13 miles per hour winds.