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Trinidad and Tobago: Driven by solar energy

Lighting, garbage bins...

Source:  Copyright 2009, Trinidad and Tobago Express
Date:  January 5, 2009
Byline:  Carolyn Kissoon
Original URL: Status DEAD


Quietly solar energy has been making inroads in Trinidad.

Several companies have started cutting electrical costs by installing solar powered energy.

And many homeowners are being urged to consider outfitting their homes with solar lights to reduce their electricity bills.

Solar lights have been installed on several Trinmar offshore oil platforms. Arnold Corneal, corporate communications manager at State-owned energy firm Petrotrin, parent company of Trinmar, confirming the use of solar powered lights, said:

"We do have some lights on the platforms and they are working well. This is the new age that we are in now."

And apart from platforms, emergency solar lighting has been installed at Piarco International Airport and the Crown Point airpport in Tobago . Several shopping malls and military facilities have also been using solar powered lights.

Several firms are already involved in pushing the switch to solar energy in Trinidad.

Solar Power Concepts Limited supplies companies and homeowners with solar lights. Jeffrey Dopson, manager, said the lights have been tried and tested in the harshest marine environment and survived the punishment.

"The lights are self contained waterproof units which drastically reduce maintenance costs and eliminate the need for wiring and external storage batteries," he said.

Dopson said the time had come for an alternative source of power. Solar power has been recognised internationally and can be used in automobiles to power for remote locations, he said.

Energy consultant, Ian Boon, said recently that the high cost of producing and retailing electrical energy and with the long-term effects electrical power will have on global warming, Trinidadian consumers should begin to use alternative sources of power.

Boon said consumers will have the choice of using solar power or in the case of offshore operations companies could look at the possibility of using wind power.

While Boon agrees that solar energy could be used for domestic power supplies and wind energy in offshore operations, he believes that tidal and waves energy might be an over-ambitious thought at this time.

Another company, Piranha Technology Asset Management Limited, recently installed a solar powered bin on Harris Promenade, San Fernando and another in Port-of-Spain.

The bins, which compact garbage before it overflows onto the sidewalks, were priced at $42,000.

Lester Vincent, logistics manager at Piranha, said the solar bins will get rid of the "mess" caused by conventional bins. The bins store energy from the sun to compact the rubbish inside, holding up to five times the normal amount of waste.

Vincent said if the bins were installed throughout the city there would be fewer garbage trucks. He said the only time a garbage truck would be required would be to empty the solar bins.

"It (solar energy) is high on the agenda of developed and developing nations in their quest for less expensive, sustainable and green sources of power," Dopson said.

Dopson is among several retailers in Trinidad and Tobago who have been advertising the new form of energy.

"This lighting is very specialised and not only are the lights self contained units but they can be remotely controlled from the control Tower where variations may be made to intensity or "flash" patterns as required. A two-mile self contained light is on trial at TSTT for its towers and enquiries for power to remote locations are being considered by several major companies in Trinidad and Tobago, he said.

His company has been in operation since 2004. It is the sole agent for solar products from Carmanah Technologies, a solar powered pioneer based in Victoria, Canada.

The company has provided training and expertise and assisted in the development of his business over the years, Dopson said.

Solar Power Concepts, Trinidad and Tobago, also has the responsibility for territories within the Caribbean area including Guyana, Suriname and Aruba in the south to St Lucia in the north.

"Our reach within the Caramanah Distribution programme, however, extends to the Bahamas and Puerto Rico where several major installations are under way," Dopson said.

Lighting of a similar nature for marine applications has also been supplied to Maritime Services where there have been preliminary discussions regarding at least one lighthouse application, Dopson said.

He said the company's first delivery was made to Trinmar recently. Dopson said three solar generators for remote platforms were installed. "These systems will provide power to operate specialised equipment as they are Class 1 Div 2 certified, a strict requirement in the energy sector. Meeting this mandatory specification has allowed the company to work with Trinmar as Carmanah has been involved in the Oil and Gas sector providing power in the environment throughout the world," he said.

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