ISA wants Caribbean to establish solar technology centres

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As the use of solar energy expands in the Caribbean, the Director General of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Dr. Ajay Mathur says that the global union has hopes of establishing Solar Technology and Application Resource Centers (STAR-C) across the region. He shared this at the alliance’s Fourth Regional Committee Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean, held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre on the outskirts of Georgetown (ACCC) last Thursday.

According to the Director General, the goals of STAR-centres include building a network of training, research and development, standardisation, and technical STAR-centers working on solar energy; developing and disseminating training programs for all solar energy stakeholders (technicians, trainers, project developers, engineers, policymakers, etc); as well as providing testing and technical certification capabilities to key STAR-centers.

“STAR-centres can become centres of excellence, extending technical supports to all member countries, not just the training initiatives, but also with testing and standardisation. We believe that this is extremely important to ensure that the solar panels that are put meet basic criteria, which ensure that [they] don’t deteriorate quickly and that they maintain their integrity over time,” Dr. Mathur told the conference.

He stated that solar is one of the energy sources of choice and preference in Latin America and the Caribbean. Like many of the member countries, he reminded that the ISA is passionate about making a sizable impact on the adverse effects of climate change.

“And the great thing about solar energy is that it meets our development goals while also making the case for the mitigation of the negative impacts of climate change,” Dr. Mathur noted.

He went on to say that the alliance wants to see a country partnership framework to identify the needs of member countries, as well as a private sector engagement strategy to help mobilise investments in a technically and financially viable manner.

“International Solar Alliance stands ready with our member countries to address these gaps through the offerings of analytics and advocacy support, capacity-building assistance and programmatic and readiness support for helping develop a viable foothold for future solar energy developments in the industry,” the Director General explained.

With an average of 12 hours of sunlight, Guyana is best suited to be a solar state. The nation is aiming to accumulate 39MW of solar power over the next three years. Just last week, the GY$472 million Lethem Solar Farm was commissioned. Already 10,000 litres of diesel or some 63 drums of fuels were saved, since the solar power plant started testing on July 26.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Energy Agency, Dr. Mahender Sharma, said with the current fuel cost, the solar farm will save approximately GY$136 million annually.

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