The Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities along with the Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust is holding a week long training course entitled “Solar System Design and Installation.” The training is being held from November 11th to 16th in Belize City by the Caribbean Photovoltaic Installation Training Agency.

Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry, Dr. Colin Young, explained that 20 participants from across the country, 4 of whom are young women, will be partaking in the training exercise. He added that the course comes after consultations were held with the private sector, and during these consultations, concerns expressed indicated that there was a need for trained personnel to install solar electricity systems.

At the end of the training sessions says Dr. Young, the participants would be able to work on designing and installing small solar panel systems to provide customers with solar energy to run household appliances or for water heating systems. According to Young, the ministry is targeting persons who are not connected to the national electricity grid as well as small users of electricity. Young says that the ministry is encouraging persons to get into this kind of renewable energy as a source for home use as it is focusing on reducing the country's dependence on imported electricity from Mexico which is based on fossil fuels. "With the cost of fuel, small countries are forced to embrace renewable energy," he stated. Currently Belize depends on 35% of the energy it uses from Mexico, "it behooves us to get as much power generated locally as possible." Currently the ministry has put out a proposal to get 15 megawatts of power from solar and/or wind with an additional 60 megawatts of domestic generation to feed into the national grid. The promotion of small solar generation sources is one way in which this can be achieved.

As the ministry is working on improving to decrease outside energy needs, its also working on legislation to ensure that power produced locally will not run afoul of existing legislation with regards to electricity generation. Currently there is regulations in place for entities that produce in excess of 75 kilowatts of electricity, and according to Young, the Public Utilities Commission has been charged with coming up with regulations and amendments to remove the barriers that exist to incentivize renewable energy production.

For now, the first step is focused on training, and the 20 participants marks just such a step. The expertise gained in this week will be spread across the country for the promotion of solar systems to be integrated into households and small ventures.

The Guardian