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As the region braces to deal with rising oil prices and depleting resources, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has developed an intensive Certificate course in Alternative Energy, aimed at equipping qualified persons with the technical skills required to ensure better energy management and develop new energy sources and technologies. Core financial support for the course is being provided by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), which will also fund ten scholarships per year for a five year period.

The certificate course in Alternative Energy will begin in June 2005 and will be delivered by the Department of Physics at the UWI, Mona Campus in collaboration with the Mona Institute of Applied Sciences (MIAS), the Department of Geography, the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) under the umbrella of the School for Graduate Studies and Research.

The programme is aimed at environmentalists and persons already working in energy-related fields in the public and private sectors. It aims to expose participants to the basic concepts and principles involved in alternative energy technologies, the use of relevant scientific instruments, especially related to wind and solar energy, data analysis techniques, the performance of energy audits as well as energy conservation, management and economics.

The first tranche of financial support for the new course was handed over to UWI Vice Chancellor, Professor the Hon. Rex Nettleford by Deputy Group Managing Director at PCJ Mrs. Ruth Potopsingh, at a brief ceremony held at the University’s Mona Campus on Tuesday, August 31, 2004. In making the presentation, Mrs. Potopsingh said that the PCJ was pleased to collaborate with the UWI in the initiative as the company had been involved in promoting energy conservation for years, but felt that training in energy management and the development of new energy sources was now critical.

In his response, the Vice Chancellor expressed appreciation to the PCJ for its support. He noted that development of the course comes against the background of rising oil prices, due primarily to rising demand, security concerns, supply constraints and resource depletion. As a result, many countries are now investigating alternative energy sources. Some projects exist already in the Caribbean region, including wind energy for electricity generation and irrigation, and solar energy for water heating and street lighting. However, Professor Nettleford pointed out that what is now required is a significant and sustained increase in the region’s capacity to develop and implement energy management and alternative energy projects, which in turn requires an increase in relevant knowledge and technical skills.

Also speaking at the ceremony was Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of the School for Graduate Studies and Research, Professor the Hon. Errol Morrison. He noted that the School’s involvement in the exercise was a part of its commitment to sustainable development and its willingness to partner with the private sector to achieve developmental objectives. Others associated with the handing-over ceremony were Mr. Henoy Russell, Financial Controller and Mrs. Francene Thelwell, Manager for Information & Corporate Affairs at PCJ, and Dr. Dharmaratne Amarakoon of the Department of Physics at Mona.

Further information may be obtained from the School for Graduate Studies and Research, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Telephone numbers (876)977-0655; Fax (876)9774368 or via email to the School for Graduate Studies & Research.

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