How Aruba is Be­com­ing the Caribbean’s Green­est Is­land

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - By Ju­lia Ren­fro

Is Aruba the Caribbean’s green­est is­land?

The Dutch Caribbean is­land has taken an­other big step in its ef­fort to lead the world in car­bon foot­print re­duc­tions and be an ex­am­ple to the re­gion. Last month, Aruba’s gov­ern­ment signed a con­tract with the lo­cal util­ity ser­vice com­pany EL­MAR NV to con­vert all of the is­land’s public-road light­ing to en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient, light-emit­ting diodes (LED) by 2017, which would re­duce en­ergy con­sump­tion and lower main­te­nance costs.

Ac­cord­ing to Mike de Meza, Aruba’s Min­is­ter in charge of Eco­nomic Af­fairs and En­ergy, the project will ini­ti­ate in June when con­ven­tional light fix­tures will be re­placed by the new sys­tem and the public-road net­work will be ex­panded.

“Aruba will re­place all public-road light­ing with LED tech­nol­ogy and in­stall ad­di­tional light­ing to ar­eas that cur­rently do not have night­time il­lu­mi­na­tion,” Aruba Prime Min­is­ter Mike Eman said. “We will achieve a 30 per­cent sav­ing for the coun­try and in­vest th­ese funds back to our peo­ple by in­stalling street lights in the neigh­bour­hoods that don’t have at this mo­ment.”

Robert Hen­riquez, the en­ergy dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany’s direc­tor, said that Aruba had al­ready started the LED re­place­ment in­stal­la­tions on a smaller scale.

The newly-agreed na­tion­wide re­place­ment in­stal­la­tions will take about two years. The changes will not only save the coun­try in en­ergy costs, but of­fer brighter light­ing for in­creased safety and lower main­te­nance costs.

Aruba’s long-term sus­tain­abil­ity pro­gramme goal aims to be­come 100 per­cent free of fos­sil fu­els by 2020, re­sult­ing in a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion of green­house gas emis­sions.

Aruba also has plans for a “Green Cor­ri­dor” that would connect both ends of the is­land in a more ef­fi­cient and cost­ef­fec­tive way.

The lat­ter rep­re­sents one of the big­gest projects un­der­taken on the is­land, and its suc­cess will hinge in large part on the LED project.

“In the last few years we’ve been work­ing hard on this bright idea to con­vert our public light­ing to us­ing the LED tech­nol­ogy,” said Min­is­ter of Ur­ban Devel­op­ment, In­fra­struc­ture & Im­mi­gra­tion Benny Sevinger. “The re­sponse has been very pos­i­tive.”

In ad­di­tion to the public-road light­ing sys­tem, public build­ings will be retro­fit­ted with LED light­ing to re­al­ize the benefits of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. It is es­ti­mated that sus­tain­able light­ing could re­sult in ini­tial en­ergy sav­ings of 50-80 per­cent and lower an­nual CO2 emis­sions by 3,000 – 4,000 tons.

“Retrofitting will be equiv­a­lent to sav­ings of $1.2 – $1.7 mil­lion per year in en­ergy costs”, de Meza said.

Aruba has opened the mar­ket to pri­vate in­vest­ment to as­sist Aruba in reach­ing its 2020 goal of elim­i­nat­ing the use of fos­sil fu­els by of­fer­ing in­cen­tives in the form of tar­iff re­duc­tions and gov­ern­ment co­op­er­a­tion in its green sus­tain­abil­ity mission.

It’s a col­lec­tive ef­fort that’s putting the rest of the re­gion on no­tice.

A white sandy beach: one of Aruba’s many nat­u­ral

at­trac­tions.

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