SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRY – THE “SUNSHINE”ON THE CARIBBEAN SEA If we could turn one hour’s sunshine to the Earth into any form of energy, it could satisfy the consumption of energy of the whole world for one year. The technology of generating energy from the sun has been explored and widely applied for decades. Solar energy not only reduces the dependency on fuel, but it improves air quality and offsets greenhouse gas emissions. People did not pay attention to its potential until crude oil prices soared in 2004. On Feb. 16, 2005, the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change went into force, which imposes limits on carbon dioxide emissions and other gases and further stimulated the application of solar energy. Since then, solar photovoltaic began to occupy headlines on newspapers and science magazines. In view of the importance of solar photovoltaic industry, many countries have spared no efforts to induce the industry with incentives and to compensate households equipped with photovoltaic installations. Germany, United States and Japan are the leading countries in developing the solar photovoltaic industry. Taiwan did not pay due attention to the potential of solar photovoltaic until the beginning of the century. By virtue of its well developed semiconductor and LCD (liquid crystal display) industries, Taiwan has caught the bus of green industry. Its solar cell output reached 545 million volts (MV), and occupied about 12% of the world’s market. Public buildings such as the President’s office, schools and public parks are installed with photovoltaic establishing so as to serve for a locomotive effect. Despite the bright future of the solar energy, the relatively higher cost compare to traditional energy, remains to be the biggest hurdle. White beaches and golden sunshine are the two natural assets for the tourism industry in the Caribbean. Due to the limited land mass of island nations, how to sustain its natural resources is the key for future development of tourism in the region. With average daily sunshine hours are 8.3 hours in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, solar energy projects seem to be abundant. In response to the constructive policies of the Ministry of Technology of the Federation, the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), assisted with constructing a grid-tied 10 kW photovoltaic system on the roof of the National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Center in 2008. With full operation, the system will provide more than 80% of the Center’s electricity consumption. Titan Lee, the Taiwan Mission ICT Technician, is satisfied with the function and performance of the System so far. As photovoltaic products are still costly, cheaper Solar energy products, including solar energy garden lamps, umbrellas, street lights, water heating systems, should be promoted in the Federation so as to showcase the government’s determination for a sustainable tourism industry in the future.
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