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Seminar encourages use of electric vehicles in private sector

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The private sector was given much to consider on the topic of adoption of electric vehicles and making them part of their respective fleets, at an intensive four-hour seminar last week.

A combined effort of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC) and the Energy Unit of SVG, an ‘Electric Vehicles Seminar’ took place on December 6 for the private sector, to suggest how a smooth transition to the use of electric vehicles may be possible.

Senior energy consultant of USAID Daryl Raymond said the seminar would discuss the “benefits of electric vehicles, identifying obstacles to transition to electric vehicles, how we may circumvent these obstacles and to design and craft this pilot project.”

USAID Energy and Regulatory Governance specialist Elizabeth Butler said the USAID seeks to help SVG achieve its goal of energy independence by providing support to SVG under their project Caribbean Clean Energy Program (CARCEP).

Showing her own enthusiasm for the implementation of electronic vehicles (EVs) in SVG she advised, “This is a leapfrog moment for the developing nations; you are perfectly suited for this technology and you are very well advantaged if you adopt it earlier.”

She encouraged members of the private sector to ask all the questions they needed to ask to the experts present at the seminar, including senior executive David McGregor from Barbados Light and Power, who had journeyed to SVG for the seminar.

CIC representative Tony Regisford, who took on the role of spokesperson for some of the queries that the private sector may have, posed questions about the ability of the vehicles to handle the mountainous terrain of the island, what the cost benefit analysis of the vehicles would be in comparison to the Internal Combustion Energy (ICE) vehicles and what government policy, such as tax concessions, may be available.

Leshan Monrose, imparting the information gathered from the research project done here by the Energy Unit, dubbed ‘Promoting Access to Clean Energy Services’, attempted to allay some of Regisford’s fears.

She stated that they have carried out an ‘Electronic Vehicle Marketing Assessment,’ using a 30KW Nissan Tekna Leaf. She said from tests carried out, the vehicle stood up well on the terrain of the island.

“Our electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, was tested all over St Vincent, as far as the geothermal site in Soufrière and all the way up to Richmond and it returned with sufficient charge, so there is no doubt that the electric vehicle can handle our terrain,” she assured.

The EVs are also said to be self-charging when the brake is used.

“Furthermore, electric vehicles have this regenerative braking where when you use your brake, it cycles power back into the battery. It doesn’t matter if you go up a hill and you use 10KW, by the time you go down the hill, you would be putting power back into your battery, which would extend your range,” Monrose said.

Director of the Energy Unit Ellsworth Dacon addressed the question of tax concessions.

“…The policy should be guided based on the demand of the private sector, and not the policy before the demand. I believe that the private sector should tell the Government that we are interested in this transition, that we want to be part of this green technology.”

He said they were looking at the seminar to provide this kind of insight for the private sector on the thoughts on electric vehicles.

“The workshop really was to see the concerns of the private sector, so I hope that, by the end of the workshop, we can ascertain some of the concerns from the private sector, what their worry could be,” he stated.(KR)

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