Regional Energy Apprenticeship Programme Feature- Sapphire Vital, Project Development Intern,
Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic phrases like “in these uncertain times” rang in our ears. We lived in a state of hyperawareness that things were simply not normal. Seeking to enter the workforce as a young professional during the first wave of the pandemic, while numerous lost their jobs,
was a particularly daunting task. The timing of TAPSEC’s Regional Energy Apprenticeship Programme (REAP) could not have been better placed. I consider myself blessed to be a part of this programme as the Project Development Intern at the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
(CCREEE). Reflecting on my experience over the last few months, two initiatives stood out to me that I would like to share.

As the Project Development Intern, I am attached to the CCREEE Project Preparation Facility (PPF). The facility, launched at the end of November, seeks to catalyse a robust pipeline of sustainable energy projects in the Caribbean region. In the Caribbean, our everyday lives are steeped in renewable energy
potential from the warmth of the sun to gusts of ocean breeze. Yet so much of that potential is untapped and we continue to rely on fossil fuels. The PPF contributes to the needed energy transition by providing sustainable energy project development support and facilitating project financing. As the facility is in the launch, formulating the application process, refining the business plan, and developing a project origination strategy. The breadth of experience has been invaluable.

On joining CCREEE, I determined not just to expand my technical expertise but to refine my professional skills. This determination was first challenged during CARICOM Energy Mont its initial phase, I have been able to participate in a broad range of activities including developing communication material, coordinating h when I was asked to be one of the moderators for the Youth Seminar. I remember my heart rate quickening as I read my supervisor’s message. I hesitated because I had never moderated a webinar before, and public speaking is generally outside my comfort zone. But, in that moment I took a deep breath in and accepted the opportunity to grow. The experience proved rewarding, and I thoroughly enjoyed engaging with young people from around the region within the sustainable energy space. Youth voices are indispensable in our effort to transform the energy sector and I feel honoured to have contributed to an initiative that amplifies our voices.

If I had to choose one word to describe my experience at CCREEE so far, it would be inspiring. I have been inspired by the work being done to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency uptake in the Caribbean region through the PPF as well as CCREEE’s other flagship projects. I have been inspired by the CCREEE team’s expertise, work ethic, and warmth. I have been inspired by Dr Gary Jackson’s (Executive Director) dedication to the Caribbean people illustrated by his ever-passionate communication of the centre’s vision. My experience at CCREEE has solidified my desire to contribute to the Caribbean’s sustainable development through the energy sector. I encourage fellow graduates and young professionals within the wide scope of relevant fields- including engineering, communication, science, information technology, business, and finance- to join this blossoming and critical sector.

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