It is sometimes surprising that even in our small country we do not know all that is going on. Many times we only see the surface of something, like a business, and we do not know the extent of its operations and how it is impacting the economy. This is very true for Megapower which was founded five years ago by Jo Edghill and her husband, Simon Richards.
I met Jo about three years ago when she was still a consultant with the World Bank’s Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WINC) Program; the Acceleration Program that I facilitated came under that. As a woman entrepreneur, she attended the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day events I hosted when I was the Barbados Ambassador. I met her on other occasions and always knew that she sold Nissan Leaf vehicles which I thought was all she did. However, it was not until I recently read an article about her and Megapower in Forbes.com titled “The Electric Vehicle Revolution is Alive in Barbados” that I fully appreciated the extent of what she does at Megapower.
The Forbes article says: “Megapower is not a traditional garage, offering a range of renewable energy services to complement its electric vehicles (EV). The team focuses on bringing EV, charging infrastructure and solar energy to the Caribbean, working across the region from Trinidad to The Bahamas and with customers including governments, electric utilities and the private sector.” I did not even know that Megapower had opened an office in Antigua and was all over the Caribbean.
One of the exciting discoveries from the article is the solar charging port they have developed. I’ve told Jo that my next car will be an electric car, but one drawback for me is that the charging port still requires the use of fossil fuels, albeit indirectly, via electricity. However, Megapower has introduced a modular solar car port which takes care of my concern.
Jo said in the Forbes article: “We have designed a modular solar carport system which we have also exported to other islands in the region. Our largest solar carport is in Barbados, covering 56 parking bays and powering a large office complex. Solar carports provide shaded parking as well as a visual statement of renewable energy and are also suitable for locations where rooftop installations may not be possible.” So you can now charge your car using a solar car port and be completely green. What an innovation!
Another exciting innovation the company is pioneering is the battery reuse lab which will enable them to re-purpose electric vehicle batteries for various other applications and storage for renewable energy such as solar photovoltaic systems. They took their own office off-grid this year by reusing batteries from a five-year-old Nissan LEAF to create a 15kWh battery system recharged by a 5kWp solar carport. She said that it charges their cars and runs four AC units, fridge, lights and their full office for a week. They also worked with Barbados Golf Club to reuse old car batteries for golf carts giving five rounds of golf per cart instead of the usual two rounds.
Barbados is currently leading the region in the use of electric vehicles with nearly 350 EVs on the road and more than 50 publicly accessible charging points. The island is well suited to the use of electric vehicles since owners are never more than 5km from one of Megapower’s public EV charging points. Jo says interest in electric vehicles is growing exponentially and they expect to have about 450 electric cars in Barbados by 2019.
She is also confident that within five years ten per cent of the island will be driving electric vehicles. Already Flow has converted part of its fleet to electric vehicles and delivery companies like DHL and UPS have also begun to use electric vehicles, significantly reducing their fuel costs. DHL is also recharging delivery vehicles with their own electricity generated from a solar photovoltaic system on their premises.
That is great news for us as a nation since purchasing fossil fuels uses significant amounts of foreign exchange. Considering that we have sunshine for most of the year, we should more fully utilize this free resource and save valuable foreign exchange at the same time, which is what Megapower is aiming to achieve. I, personally, would like to see some concessions given for purchasing electric vehicles, similar to the concessions given for installing photovoltaic systems.
I am very happy to see a female entrepreneur such as Jo Edghill succeeding in the area of innovation, particularly climate innovation and putting Barbados on the map. I was also delighted when Jo was asked in the Forbes interview to recommend books or films to readers wanting to learn more about Barbados and she listed my latest novel, Vaucluse, and Alison Saunder’s recent film, Panama Dreams, as important works that showcase two different eras of Barbados’ rich history.
Alison, Jo and I are, coincidentally, three of the founding members of the Barbados Chapter of the International Women’s Forum (IWF), which is headed by Ms Brenda Pope, president and Dr Jeannine Comma, vice-president. The Barbados chapter, which was accepted into the IWF in October, is the fifth in the region, joining The Bahamas, Bermuda, Trinidad and Jamaica.
IWF is an invitation-only, membership organization comprising more than 7,000 diverse and accomplished women from 33 nations on six continents. Members include Fortune 500 executives, government leaders from the local to the sovereign level, international non-profit leaders and personalities from the academy, arts and sciences. Its members are trailblazers, innovators, and pioneers united to advance women’s leadership globally and locally.
Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She was the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (2014-2016) and is the Barbados Facilitator for the WINC Acceleration Program. She is also a member of the International Women’s Forum (IWF). She has just released her eleventh book, Vaucluse, which is available on all Amazon stores, at Pages and the Museum or contact her to order your copy.
Contact her at [email protected]