by Shawn Cumberbatch
Barbados could be directly exchanging oil exploration for wind power production in a manner most people would not have anticipated.
RE Power Barbados, a local renewable energy project development and power generation business with Canadian links, has started “preliminary negotiations” with the Barbados National Oil Company Limited to utilise some of its old oil drilling sites in the St. George area to generate electricity.
And having tested wind speeds at Vaucluse, St. Thomas and Ashbury, St. John and received encouraging results, as well as now starting similar assessments at Sunbury, St. Philip, and Society, St. John the company’s Founder and President, Barry Creamer, told Barbados TODAY his organisation was ready to go as soon as Government put the necessary legislation in place.
The venture was expected to provide 60 jobs in the construction stage and 12 indirectly on implementation.
Speaking this afternoon during a telephone interview from Canada, the business development specialist said RE Power would not be establishing a wind farm, but placing up to seven individual turbines on land after negotiating long term leases with property owners.
It is in this regard the talks with BNOC, which has drilled for oil in sections of St. George and St. Philip are important.
“We are quite interested in the St. George Valley because we know anecdotally that the wind is very good through there and we have also had some preliminary negotiations with BNOC about some of the old oil drilling sites,” he said.
“Many of those sites are at the end of their life now and there is very good wind through that area so again we have just begun measuring, but we think that St. George Valley is going to be quite good.”
RE Power, which has formed an equity partnership with well-known local corporate player, Cave Shepherd & Company Limited, intends to implement a $25 million project with three main components, starting with the half dozen wind turbines.
“Our first push is for building five and a half megawatts of commercial wind and then we are also looking at energy storage and electric transportation. We are looking at a couple of projects in Barbados where we can store that electricity that we make from the wind and deliver it to the (Barbados Light & Power Company) on a demand basis and also we are looking at electric transportation where we use the energy from the wind to power electric vehicles,” Creamer stated.
While noting that more details on the plans would be revealed following a company board meeting within the next week, the company head said based on wind speed checks already done he was excited by the prospects.
“What we have been doing initially is analysing the wind, and basically we have been organising land with land owners and measuring wind speeds. We have been up at the Vaucluse landfill site for two years measuring the wind up there and also we have had another measuring tower at Ashbury Plantation right across the road from the BWA station at Golden Ridge,” he noted.
“So we have also been measuring up there for two years as well and we are looking at land in the agricultural area of the St. George Valley. We have got some land at Sunbury that we have actually just started measuring and also up at Society Plantation in St. John, we just started measuring up there a few months ago as well.
“So our whole idea is rather than build a wind farm we are looking at sugar cane fields where you put one or two turbines here and one or two there for a maximum of about six or seven. So it’s more of a distributive situation than a wind farm per s√,” he added.
Creamer said the intention was to sign lease agreements of between 20 and 25 years with land owners, who would also be given an opportunity to participate in the renewable energy project.
“We have got long term leases on two of the properties and are in negotiations with a number of others and local ownership is very much part of what we are doing,” he said.
“And then the next piece is the energy storage part, so if we can bring the right technology for Barbados to store that energy and then deliver it to Barbados Light & Power when they need it that’s our next project.”
Creamer said the company was keen to have other Barbadian partners involved as well as promised new laws facilitating a relationship with the BL&P.
“We are ready as soon as Government is ready, we have had a very good dialogue with Government. They actually did a fair bit of work we believe over the last couple of years on the energy sector. It’s a very important sector to Barbados and I think this Government recognises that. So we are in regular contact with Government and really as soon as that drops we have got a lot of our preliminary work ready to go; so we are waiting on Government right now,” he stated. email@example.com