Prime Minister Philip Davis’ Remarks at the Launch of the BTVI Training Program for the Installation & Maintenance of Solar Photo-Voltaic General Systems

Good afternoon, everyone.

It is wonderful to be here with all of you. 

The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute has in so many ways played an important role in shaping progress – not just for the individual participants but for our economy and for our country.

And so it is today – as we embark on an ambitious programme of energy reforms, transforming our nation’s outdated, expensive energy systems into cleaner, more modern, more affordable, and more reliable systems, BTVI will play a central and important role.

As I have said in many contexts, we are here to change the status quo, not defend it. And I know BTVI is ready to be part of the big changes we need for shared progress and a more inclusive economy.

I’m also guessing that many of you not only agree with me, but agree passionately, that energy is an area long overdue for transformation. For far too long, high prices and unreliability have hurt Bahamian families and businesses, undermining our progress and our prosperity. 

The exciting thing about energy reform is that along with the substantial benefits that go along with creating cleaner, more affordable, and more reliable energy – we can also create significant new opportunities for Bahamians.

So here’s the overall landscape:

Earlier this morning, we launched a Request for Proposal for up to 100MW in New Providence, an important component of our larger package of energy reforms and upgrades.

Over the past two years, with the inception of the Reconstruction with Resilience energy project, the Ministry of Finance has completed Phase I of the New Providence Solar Photovoltaic Rooftop projects, including the solarisation of three local schools. 

Phase 2, which is underway, will be more extensive. The team is also in the process of completing the installation of solar power generation systems for the Cooper’s Town Medical Clinic and the hospital and Government Complex in Marsh Harbour. 

Also well underway are the rooftop mounted solar power generation system at the University of The Bahamas and the University Clean Energy Lab –  which will become an incubator and teaching facility for renewable energy innovations.  

We have also secured significant approval in principle from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for a pilot project in Mayaguana. This project will rely on the innovative Erthos technology, which can be easily installed and requires significantly less land space than the traditional ground-mounted systems. 

This technology will enable us to roll out a more affordable alternative energy solution for our Family Islands.

The Ministry of Finance, in conjunction with Bahamas Power & Light, is also working towards major upgrades in Abaco, including the installation of a new underground cable to replace the existing cable in Leisure Lee, and the installation of new cables at the Government Complex in Marsh Harbour, as well as between Murphy Town and Guana Cay. We are also looking to purchase and install a new transformer for the old power substation.

Funds from the IDB loan will be used to allocate $14.7 million for the completion of a 25 Mega Watt Battery Energy Storage System at the Blue Hills Power Station. This state-of-the-art facility will be a standout within the region, and will provide an estimated $43 million in potential savings in fuel costs that will be passed on directly to households in New Providence.

In addition, preparation for the installation of micro-grids in five settlements in East Grand Bahama are under way.

Thanks to our focus on renewable energy, government facilities throughout the nation will be solarised, and we will deliver clean, stable, affordable energy on multiple islands throughout The Bahamas, including Mayaguana, Abaco, Grand Bahama, and New Providence. 

Technology and innovations, however, are not sustainable without the capacity to maintain them. Fortunately, with these projects come opportunities for Bahamians to acquire new skills in emerging, future-oriented sectors. 

Today, I am proud to witness the implementation of yet another aspect of my government’s Blueprint for Change: repositioning and re-energizing BTVI as a regional leader in training, and creating new opportunities for Bahamians within the Green Economy. I remain grateful to our EU partners, with whom we signed an agreement in March 2022, for supporting this training programme with a grant of $9 million. 

We are facing the very significant challenges of operating in the context of a turbulent global economy, changing geopolitics, and very significant risks associated with a rapidly changing climate.

There is no question this is a difficult landscape to navigate. But we also see many opportunities to be strategic, and to create new opportunities for our people.

BTVI’s new and improved renewable energy program will encompass: training in the installation and maintenance of solar photovoltaic generation systems and other related services; measures for supporting industries within the solar renewable energy industry; as well as further support for staff and students, including a Pilot for Persons With Disabilities and a workshop for teachers and students to expose them to careers in Renewable Energy (RE). 

The programme is inclusive – of skills, abilities, and backgrounds – with men and women who will come from MICAL, Grand Bahama, Abaco and New Providence.

It represents an innovative approach to learning, featuring hybrid classes and collaboration with multiple partners including Nova Scotia Community College in Canada, as well as private sector internship partners.

The Government is taking significant steps toward delivering on its promises for reliable, resilient, and affordable energy, while creating opportunities for our citizens.

I am so proud of the work done by the leadership team at BTVI to make this programme a possibility. Congratulations on taking this big and important step forward. 

May God Bless the many Bahamians across our country who will carry forward these important energy reforms, and may he continue to bless the entire Commonwealth of The Bahamas!