Central Bank Governor Dr Delisle Worrell suggested today there was one ‘sure’ way for the island to record three per cent economic growth this year.
However, it would have required a 100 per cent switch over from electricity to solar energy.
Worrell therefore told those attending a renewable energy and energy efficiency workshop not to expect any significant change to the Central Bank’s 0.5 per cent growth projection for 2015.
The Bank is further projecting one per cent growth next year, and about two per cent thereafter.
“ . . . we don’t think we are, [based] on current projections, going to get much above that. That is what we see right now, but we know that already there are policies in place in other sectors, which we hope will actually get us a little beyond that,” said an optimistic Worrell.
He pointed out that if Barbados did not have to import any fuel, “we would be at three per cent [economic growth], we would rise to about five per cent next year, the year after we would be at six per cent and we would be, in a couple of years, at seven per cent.
“In other words, among the fastest growing economies in the whole world,” he said.
However, the Governor acknowledged that such a scenario was nothing more than “a dream” at this stage since the island did not have the means of generating or using wind and solar energy to provide for 100 per cent of its energy needs.
“It is just to give you a concept of the difference between a Barbados where you have to import fossil fuel and a Barbados where you don’t,” explained Worrell.
He said because foreign exchange was a limiting factor in the economy it meant that 100 per cent renewable energy use was “the ideal solution” for the island “irrespective of price of oil [and] irrespective of anything else”.
The economist said achieving the desired target of full renewable energy use would “transform” the domestic economy, and make Barbados the wealthiest and potentially the most prosperous country in the Latin America and Caribbean region within a decade of that achievement.
“One hundred per cent renewable is transformative, even anything close to 100 per cent is transformative to this economy,” he said, noting that the country would not have to spend “the $600 million that we spent on fuel imports in 2014”.
The Central Bank Governor also pointed out that with the development of the sector there would be increased employment opportunities, including those with highly specialized skills, as well as increased tax revenues to the Government, foreign exchange savings and “spillovers” to other sectors.