A Passion for Renewable Energy

A Passion for Renewable Energy

Author: Ayana Evelyn
Country: Barbados

As I was wrapping up my Master of Science degree, I begun to seek out internships that aligned with my qualifications and interest. I saw the CCREEE internship programme as a unique opportunity that fulfilled my interest and qualifications. Internships in the Caribbean are limited, and especially those within an environmental-related area was especially rare, so I jumped at the chance to apply. I was so excited to have been selected as the CCREEE Barbados Intern for 2020. There are no words to describe the level of elation that I had felt when I received the email. I considered the opportunity to be a birthday gift to myself, as I was notified within the same week as my birthday. This was an opportunity to learn and grow as a young professional entering the renewable energy sector.

I have always been interested in renewable energy and over the years, I merged it with climate change and sustainability. In 2018 I began my master’s degree journey by pursuing an MSc. in Natural Resource and Environmental Management with a focus on climate change. When it was time to select the subject of my research project, the only appealing areas were renewable energy and hurricane resilience. To that end, I later narrowed my research into the knowledge, attitude, and practices of renewable energy among university students. I wanted to know how society embraces renewable energy and the benefits associated with renewable energy, especially since Barbados is paving the road to becoming 100% renewable and carbon-neutral by 2030. Insight into the population’s understanding of and willingness to move towards the use of renewable energy can provide policymakers with vital information for designing and implementing these initiatives.

From these results, I realised that Barbadians, in general, are not thoroughly aware of the potential and benefits of renewable energy. There was even a disconnect between stakeholders in terms of data sharing and communication. One of those stakeholders suggested having a databank to pool the information for all to have access. With a suggestion like this, the work being done be CCREEE to develop the CARICOM Energy Knowledge Hub (CEKH) is essential, and I an ecstatic to be a part of that development. I saw the internship as a perfect opportunity to contribute in some way to the development and potential improvements of the renewable energy sector, at a local and regional level. As a regional classed as the second most disaster-prone region in the world, renewable energy will not only improve the resilience of  Caribbean island nations but also improve the sustainable development of the region with particular attention to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy, which contributes to the achievement of Goal 13 – Climate Action, Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities and Goal 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing.

Due to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, I worked from home, only interacting with key stakeholders via email, Zoom and telephone. This was a challenge as many stakeholders were now working from home with limited visits to the office. Despite this challenge, stakeholders expressed a willingness to contribute to the Energy Report Card for Barbados. The COVID-19 Global Pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of island nations to the importation of essential items such as fossil fuel to fulfil everyday needs for transport and manufacturing since the world was at a standstill. The need for energy independence is critical for the survival of the Small Island States. This has cemented my belief and plans to continue on the path of renewable energy.