GEBE Attends Sustainable Energy Conference in Brussels

GEBE managing director, Mr. William Brooks, attended the Sustainable Energy in Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) conference in Brussels )on the 25th and 26th of September 2008 as part of the Netherlands Antilles delegation consisting of NV GEBE (St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius), Aqualectra (Curacao) and WEB (Aruba). The participating island states which included islands from the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions received information from industry experts on available technologies and options for the OCTs and insight into existing development programs.

"We were able to hear from industry experts on what options are available to us in terms of establishing sustainable energy programs on St. Maarten, Saba and Statia moreover how to go about securing funding from the European Union for these projects," Mr. William Brooks stated, "Accessing European development funds for these projects would take a large financial burden off of our communities for the substantial investments that would need to be made." 

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Organized by the European Commission (EC) and Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA), the seminars, drew together the 17 Overseas Countries and Territories to discuss best practices and innovative solutions for sustainable energy. The focus for the sessions was formulating regional OCT strategies for sustainable energy and participants shared best practices and knowledge in the renewable technology and energy efficiency fields.

Specific objectives included identifying OCT needs, establishing institutional frameworks and regional partnerships, as well as recognizing education and capacity- building opportunities. Prior to the conference, a study was completed to determine an energy profile to assess the resources of each OCT as well as any experience gained in renewable energy technologies.

The islands were able to present their needs in terms of capacity building, policies and frameworks, education, financing, etc. Our Managing Director presented the challenges on St. Maarten, Saba and Statia in terms of fuel dependence, lack of space, lack of natural resources, and difficulties for financing for small island populations. He also discussed the possibilities for solar, wind, geothermal and Waste to Energy systems for the future.

"GEBE has the obligation to the communities of the Windward Islands to provide high quality and reliable electricity while taking safety and the environment into account. We take this obligation seriously by trying to find the best solution to our energy problems and reduce our dependence on oil. This is not an easy task and will have long term consequences not only for our customers today, but for our next generation of customers as well."