Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Discussions held for a possible electric vehicle system on Ambergris Caye

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A meeting was held in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, on Thursday, April 11th, at the Mahogany Bay Village conference room in San Pedro Town to discuss the possibility of transitioning to electric vehicles in the transport sector. This potential project aims to switch towards clean, renewable energy to benefit the islanders and the fragile marine ecosystem surrounding La Isla Bonita.
The meeting was attended by San Pedro Town Council representatives, Area Representative the Honourable Andre Perez, Minister of Youth, Sports, and Transportation, Honourable Rodwell Ferguson, and representatives from the Climate Institute and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) DOCK Secretariat. The SIDS DOCK Secretariat is an initiative among member countries of the Alliance of Small States to help SIDS transform their energy sectors and address adaptation to climate change.
The project aims to reduce carbon emissions by developing and deploying electric vehicle transportation and renewable energy charging solutions on the island. This project will also promote technology development and expand regional employment opportunities for San Pedro residents. At the meeting, the proposed program aimed to replace gasoline-powered carts with clean, electric carts, with a pilot project to be included. Before the project is implemented, a series of public consultations will help define the specifics and scale of the project.
The San Pedro electric vehicle pilot project will be implemented in three phases. The first phase involves developing an implementation, financial plan, and technology demonstration. The second phase will develop a full-scale electric vehicle conversion, setting up charging and renewable energy implementation, and rolling out the program. Finally, the third phase will involve developing sustainability, establishing a maintenance and repair system, and providing support for the complete operation of the program.
During the first phase, the primary purpose will be to conduct a feasibility study of the program, including the technical and economic viability. In-country interviews and consultations will be scheduled with crucial administration and industry representatives, including local stakeholders in San Pedro. The process will also include technical staff developing a project implementation plan and installing a technology demonstration of the conversion to electric vehicles on the island. The project will showcase two golf carts and a solar-powered charging station.
The tourism industry on Ambergris Caye is a significant driver of the national economy, and the Government of Belize seeks to foster substantial additional investment in this sector on the island, including improvements in transportation infrastructure. Golf carts are the most popular means of transportation on the island. Using two-stroke engines to propel these carts produces significant emissions that negatively impact air quality. Electric motors have become increasingly used for propulsion, replacing internal combustion engines. As such, electric-propelled carts have no emissions and are less costly and more efficient to operate.
The idea of introducing electric vehicles in Belize is not new. In March 2022, Belize Electricity Limited unveiled the first charging station in Belize City in its National Electric Vehicle Charging Station Ecosystem. Additional charging stations have since been installed in other parts of the country. The electric vehicle project has since expanded, and on January 29th, the first electric bus arrived in Belize. Other electric buses are expected to be imported into the country and become part of the public transportation system in Belize City.

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