DFC hosts Green Technology Seminar
Friday, June 3rd, 2016
In seeking a green technological era for Belize, the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in partnership with the Ministry of Energy (MOE) and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre held a Green Technology Seminar at the Hidden Treasure Restaurant in San Pedro Town. The event took place on Tuesday, May 31st and saw members of the business community who are eager to be informed on this new venture DFC has to offer.
Three presenters discussed the potential Belize has when it comes to renewable energy, especially given the ideal location the country has. The urgency to scale down on fossil fuels while understanding the major advantages of green energy were discussed. Furthermore a call was made for everyone to join the initiative aided by DFC of acquiring credit for renewable and energy efficiency programs.
Ambrose Tillet, Energy Director at MOE gave a concise presentation on the current energy consumption around the country. He explained that even though Belize produces a considerable amount of hydro energy nearing 20%, the majority still comes from Mexico. Tillet said that at the moment, he is leading an energy commission with the aim to implement the key recommendations of the national energy policy which will then fuel a sustainable energy strategy for Belize. In order to achieve this goal, his commission has already secured over US$20 million in donor monies and technical assistance to implement this strategy in the country. An agreement has also been closed with Mexican officials to lower the markup on electricity by Belize Electricity Limited while establishing energy efficiency pillar for financial and market mechanism. He pointed out that the use of energy in Belize is higher compared to other countries in the region.
The benefits of renewable energy versus fossil fuels were explained by presenter Deon Kelly, and attendees paid keen attention. Kelly, an energy consultant at the MOE, noted the huge savings a business can experience by switching to green energy. He made examples of the island countries in the Caribbean such as Barbados, where almost in every home or business has a solar panel. “Belize has many bright sunny days throughout the year, we can be enjoying of this type of renewable energy like our partners in the Caribbean,” he said. Besides decreasing the pressure on the environment, this type of energy can also decrease expenses by reducing the amount of energy required to provide products and services. It will save the consumer time and money, while mitigating future problems and associated costs. At the same time, the cost of living can be reduced, due to the reduced cost of manufacturing. The target sectors for such projects are tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, agro-processing, business services and the residential sector.
The idea of becoming environmental friendly by switching to renewable energy was welcomed by the attendees, but there were concerns about the financing for the equipment required to run installations for such energy projects. Franklyn Magloire, Assistant General Manager, of Lending Operations at DFC explained the financing process of the program, indicating there is free technical assistance to anyone embarking on the project. This also includes free audits for businesses, project designs and business plan preparation. When all assessments are done, cost estimates can be provided, and financing can then be facilitated through a loan with DFC. Currently, DFC has allocated $2 million to start the pilot project. Interested persons can get a loan up to $200,000 for a renewable project. “An investment can pay off for itself by reducing costs over the long term by using the right equipment that would generate necessary efficiency in energy saving,” said Magloire.
The eligible investments recommended, especially for Ambergis Caye, were solar panels to supply a home or business with daily energy needs. The benefit of this choice is that there are several companies in Belize that offer solar panel installation and maintenance services. Another suggestion was solar water heating devices which reduce the high cost of water heating for businesses like hotels. Wind power was also another option due to the constant eastern winds that hit the island almost throughout the year. According to Magloire, businesses located near shorelines can greatly benefit and the use of Light-Emiting Diodes (LEDs) was strongly encouraged over incandescent light bulbs and florescent light bulbs. The LEDs are considered to be 85% more efficient that the other bulbs mentioned.
DFC’s financial assistance continues to apply to a Belizean customer base. This includes Belizean citizens/legal residents, legal entities with Belizean majority shareholdings. Another important factor is being credit worthy; a minimum of 20% equity contribution is required, and the project needs to be financially viable. The DFC loans now have flexible interest rates starting as low as 6%.
After the presentation, guests were invited to an open bar and buffet as presenters and attendees mingled. Loan officers fielded questions from the crowd and were readily available to address various inquiries.
DFC has been operating in Belize since 1963. With 50 years as a financial institution, and once owned by the private sector, DFC is now a government of Belize entity. Over the years DFC has been helping Belizeans to achieve personal milestones and develop businesses through their financial aid services.
Those wishing to speak with their local DFC representative may do so by calling 226-2144, or visiting their office on Barrier Reef Drive opposite Spindrift Hotel. For more information visit the DFC website at www.dfcbelize.org
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