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Ministry using solar power

Carol-Ann Tudor

Ministry using solar power

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THE Ministry of Transport and Works is moving ahead with technological changes that are expected to reduce its electricity bill by almost $35 000 annually. 
The ministry’s offices in The Pine have now become the first Government building to have a section powered by photovoltaic energy under the new solar electricity system. Minister John Boyce said the Pine facility had adopted a two-pronged approach to dealing with its energy consumption.
He said that as one of the largest consumers of energy in the public sector in terms of electricity and petroleum products, the ministry had sought alternative methods not only to reduce carbon emissions but to increase efficiency through conservation efforts. 
Pointing out that the administrative block was being powered by a “grid tied type” consisting of 80 photovoltaic panels installed by Solar Dynamics, Boyce revealed that the implementation cost in the pilot programme was approximately $220 000 with an anticipated payback period of eight years.
The ministry has also started experimenting with solar traffic lights and solar road marking studs. In an effort to promote and properly manage alternative energy systems, staff were also being trained in regulating solar-powered systems.“Solar motion sensor lights are also currently being installed at the ministry’s depots and a few solar street lights have been purchased and will be installed in Bridgetown as a pilot project,” Boyce said.
Boyce said the installation of solar-powered street lights would be pursued in an effort to reduce the almost $10 million that the ministry presently spent to power street lights.“Nearly every street in Barbados that does not now have street lights has made request for lighting. Where street lighting does exist we constantly get requests for more,” he stated.
The application for the wind turbine to be placed at Chance Hall depot in St Lucy would further reduce energy costs, he said.Boyce said that, in conjunction with the Ministry of Energy, his ministry was currently implementing the recommendations of an energy audit conducted in 2007. 
Measures being put in place include replacing incandescent bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs, changing all toilets to low-flush toilets and installing water-saving devices where applicable.