Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 30, 2017 (SKNIS): The developing renewable energy industry in St. Kitts and Nevis is largely thought of by consumers as a way to save money, but Bertill Browne, Director of the Energy Unit in the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, said persons also need to consider the opportunities to make money.
“You need people to install solar panels [and] you need people to maintain them when they go into operation,” Mr. Browne said, mentioning the solar systems in operation at the R. L. Bradshaw International Airport and the other next to the Frigate Bay Road close to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).
His comments were made during a live appearance on Wednesday’s (August 30) edition of the government radio and television programme “Working for You.” Mr. Browne cited the job opportunities created for locals during the establishment of SpeedTech Energy (St. Kitts-Nevis) Ltd in 2015 – a factory that produces and exports solar panels.
Then there are the other forms of renewable energy being pursued locally, including wind energy that uses windmills that will need assembling, installing and maintenance; and geothermal that has its own different type of machines and equipment for drilling, capturing and energy conversion.
The director said the geothermal plant alone would need a staff similar to the size of that currently at the Needsmust power station, which, according to reports, is close to 100 persons. The administrative duties can be carried out by experienced persons, but the technical duties will require specialized skills.
This is addressed in the National Energy Policy which outlines the need for institutional capacity building to prepare persons to take advantage of the opportunities in the emerging sector, Director Browne said, adding that the local C. F. Bryant College (CFBC) also has risen to the challenge.
“The engineering programme at CFBC is built on renewable energy and so training is going on,” he said. “There are lots of workshops and courses and so forth.” Additionally, a submission was recently made to the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) for human resource capacity building in geothermal energy.
Mr. Browne said additions will continue to be made to ensure nationals can capitalize on this expanding sector.