Gov’t leading the charge

Government is keeping to its goal of reducing the use of fossil fuels in this country, with the latest effort seeing a fleet of electric vehicles being bought and put into service in several government ministries.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Energy and Telecommunications, Senator Darcy Boyce, says the eight electric vehicles – three cars and five vans – are but the first step in the Government’s Electric Vehicle Pilot. According to Boyce, there are plans on stream to purchase electric buses as well.

He made the disclosure while addressing those gathered at Government Headquarters yesterday morning for the launch of the Electric Vehicle Pilot, which falls under the US$24.644 million Public Sector Smart Energy Programme.

“This is an attempt to make sure that when more policy is set in respect of electric vehicles, that policy is informed by empirical data, so that we know exactly what it is we are going into. The project we have here announced, which is the cars and the vans, will be supplemented – I am told by Permanent Secretary Wiltshire – by two electric buses at some point, that will run on a couple of routes, so that we also have information about how they perform in different circumstances,” he said.

Senator Boyce made the point as he said he hopes that electric vehicles can also be introduced into other sectors including commerce or construction, so they are able to see how they perform under a variety of conditions. The Minister’s comments came as he said that it is imperative that his Ministry has a broad range of information, so that when the policy is created it is “not hodgepodge” or in “bits and pieces”, but is comprehensive and able to cover the whole range of electric vehicles being used on the island.

Noting that a third of our fossil fuel imports go into the transportation sector, the Minister noted if we want to make Barbados a cleaner place, concerted efforts have to be made to reduce the emissions, by relying more on electric and hybrid vehicles. As such, Boyce explained the electric vehicle pilot project is part of Government’s strategy adopted in 2010 to reduce the imports of fossil fuels and by extension the use of foreign exchange and to reduce the emissions into the atmosphere.

“We have committed at the international level to all these targets and we intend to accomplish those targets. As Government has started this pilot project, we can see how we can reduce our own bill. So quite apart from the macro objectives, Government also has a more finite objective of making sure it reduces the amount of money it spends on electricity, the amount of money it spends on fuels and therefore this project is part of that initiative,” he said.

Minister Boyce added, “It is part of our attempt to make this country more resilient. By being more resilient it also means being more independent of imports of fossil fuels. I can think of no better gift for the 51st Anniversary of our Independence than for us to be making another step in seeking to become more independent, more fully independent of fossil fuels and the use of foreign exchange for importation,” he said.

The Government ministries and departments to benefit from the electric cars are – the Division of Energy and Telecommunications, Ministry of Housing and Lands, Ministry of Transport and Works, Ministry of Environment and Drainage, Office of the Attorney General Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Barbados Defence Force. The aim of the project is to promote low carbon transportation technologies within the public service. (JRT)

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