GIZ-TAPSEC and UWI Mona Sign Financing Agreement for the Establishment of Micro-Grid Facility and Strengthening of Teacher Capacity to deliver CXC CAPE Green Engineering syllabus, online

Recognising the critical role of academic institutions in facilitating the region’s sustainable energy transition, GIZ and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus, signed a financing agreement in August for the institutional strengthening of the Mona campus and the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).  

Facilitated through the Technical Assistance Programme for Sustainable Energy in the Caribbean (TAPSEC), the two-part agreement supports the establishment of a Microgrid Training Centre at the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory (DBML) of the UWI Mona campus, as well as the provision of technical assistance support to the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) toward strengthening teacher training in administering the CAPE Green Engineering Syllabus. 

Well-respected globally, the DBML has a long-standing international reputation as an institution advancing ground-breaking research in the areas of coastal resource protection, ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation for mangroves and coral reefs, as well as the management of marine life and critical ecosystems within Jamaica. Known for its expertise in coral reef biology and tropical coastal processes, the DBML serves as hosts to regional and international students and scientists facilitating marine research undertakings and providing critical information for the advancement and sustainability of the fisheries and tourism sectors.

ESTABLISHING MICRO GRID TRAINING CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE IN THE NORTHERN CARIBBEAN

Under the financing agreement, the allocation to the DBML will allow for the engineering, procurement and construction of a 40kW solar PV system with battery back-up, to ensure resilience as well as the procurement of monitoring, control and data software and licenses such as SCADA. This integration, along with the existing 30kW solar PV system, will supply 100% of the DBML’s electricity needs, increase the facility’s power generation to an estimated 96,349 kWh per year and result in approximately US$14,300 savings on the facility’s annual electricity cost. 

Microgrids are well-known “to provide improved electric service reliability and better power quality to end-customers and can also benefit local utilities by providing dispatchable load for use during peak power conditions or allowing system repairs without effecting customer loads (Agrawal & Mittal, 2011).” 

Following project completion, in addition to enhanced value proposition as a research centre, the DBML will be equipped to serve as a demonstrative facility for (i) supporting education, testing and research in renewable energy base SMART grid technologies; and (ii) developing the capacity of energy practitioners, university students and teachers within the Caribbean secondary school system. 

With the strengthening of the DBML’s research and teaching capacity, the facility, as well as the UWI Mona, will be repositioned as a “Centre of Excellence” for renewables-based microgrid training within the Northern Caribbean. 

DEVELOPING TEACHER CAPACITY FOR GREENING & PIVOTING TO ONLINE EDUCATION 

COVID-19 has created the largest disruption in the regional education sector in history. The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), as the sole body responsible for the implementation and examination of the CSEC and CAPE syllabus, as well as teachers and students across the region, have been negatively impacted as the implementation of prolonged national shutdowns has halted in-person learning, accelerated the need for online teaching and delayed the administering of examinations.

Regionally, the need to provide standardised online education is a priority for Ministries of Education. Through the financing agreement, the UWI Mona will provide institutional strengthening support to the CXC by (i) developing education content specific to the CAPE Green Engineering Syllabus; (ii) digitising educational content and creating electronic teaching resources to strengthen the capacity of teachers to provide online learning; (iii) procuring software tools and licenses to enhance the implementation of online teacher training and (vi) executing a three (3) day virtual teacher training workshop on the CXC Learning Institute platform. 

The success of the Caribbean in meeting several of its sustainable development goals depends on the capacity of regional academic institutions to produce academically diverse, transformational leaders equipped with the ability to address the Caribbean’s sustainable development challenges.  

The CARICOM Energy Policy of 2013, in Goal 10, speaks to “the enhancement of human and institutional capacity with the aim of encouraging research and development and increase public education and awareness to ensure energy sector development (CARICOM Secretariat, 2013). In supporting the strengthening of regional institutions such as UWI and CXC, it is envisioned that CARICOM member states will benefit exponentially from the research developed and training opportunities provided. 

Programme Note: 

The work executed under this financing agreement are interventions of the European Union and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) funded Technical Assistance Programme for Sustainable Energy in the Caribbean (TAPSEC). The GIZ implements the TAPSEC in collaboration with CARICOM Secretariat and the Ministry of Energy and Mines in the Dominican Republic.

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