A renewable energy advocate says Barbados is in crisis when it comes to expanding the renewable energy sector and driving down the amount of money spent on fuel imports.
With Government spending close to $800 million on imported fuel annually since 2008, executive director of the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) Clyde Griffith is calling for greater urgency in building out the renewable energy sector, thereby reducing the island’s dependency on fossil fuel.
“Some people have been upset because I have said that but it is true that we are still in crisis. The crisis stem from the fact that we are paying close to $1 billion, and we will get there soon because of what is happening in Iraq, and we can’t afford it. We really can’t afford it in Barbados,” Griffith told Barbados Today this afternoon.
He said when the decision was made to set up the association in 2011, members thought they would get a reaction from the government “that says let’s deal with this thing urgently”, but that has not been the case.
“So far we are not happy that there is a lack of urgency in this sector . . . We need to get it right and we are not getting it right to this day,” said Griffith, adding that the association would continue to do whatever it could to help.
In terms of government incentives for the sector, Griffith said while they were happy for those incentives, some members say their efforts to take advantage of them have been stymied “because of the way the incentives are applied”.
He said the association was getting ready to carry out investigations into some concerns raised by members.
“They express concern that the people who are responsible for providing the incentives are not very sympathetic in the way that they administer it. We are looking into that because we feel that the incentives would provide a great boost for consumers, installers and so an and so forth,” said Griffith.
“What we need to do is to look at where in the bureaucracy the difficulty is and we want to be able to speak to that to get people up to speed on whether they are going about these things the right way or [if] it is a bureaucratic issue . . . We are looking to see where in the system there are flaws and where we can highlight solutions to the flaws that people complain to us about,” he said.
Griffith cautioned that in the effort to quickly expand the industry quality should not be overlooked. He said the association was concerned about some quality of work that was being carried out by those involved the installation of photovoltaic systems.
“We cannot allow the consumer to be taken for a ride in this regard,” said Griffith.
“I am afraid, and the board of BREA is concerned that in this rush to outdo one another in the installation of photovoltaic systems can only mean that the consumers may be left with some low quality products as we have seen in this country already. It is because the consumers are not totally aware of the pitfalls that can accrue from responding to the installation frenzy that is taking place,” he added.
Griffith said he also agreed with recent comments from managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde, that electricity cost was a major factor in attracting more international investors to the island.