Canadian energy firm, Emera Inc., today broke ground at Trents, St Lucy for the construction of a $40 million solar photovoltaic energy plant, again promising Barbadian consumers savings of $10 million a year on current electricity costs.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Chris Huskilson, said the plant, going up on a 42 acre site, would produce about 20,000 megawatt hours of electricity to satisfy the needs of about 7,700 households.
“That equates to 73,000 barrels of oil no longer imported and burnt here, and that will reduce the cost to customers by $10 million per year,” he said.
The plant will have a favourable impact on the environment and support global efforts to combat climate change by slashing the amount of carbon dioxide produced in Barbados by approximately 13,000 tonnes annually.
This greenhouse gas has been identified as the main contributor to global warming.
During the construction phase, scheduled to last about eight months, between 60 to 80 people will be employed.
Stating that Emera has been “searching” for alternative ways to produce electricity since its entry into the market in 2010, Huskilson said the St Lucy project was the first large scale solar project which the company was undertaking in the Eastern Caribbean.
“It is also the first large scale solar project that we are investing in directly,” he said. “So this is a first for Emera. It is also the first major large-scale step in eliminating fossil fuels in the Barbados electricity market.
That is really where we all want to go.”
Also addressing the gathering was the acting Minister of Housing and Lands, Dr Esther Byer, who urged employers and employees in the renewable energy sector to ensure they were ready to take full advantage of opportunities as the sector expands.
“I sound this caution now so that it is not hastily attempted as an afterthought when the facilities are ready,” she said. “There has to be training, retooling. And I strongly urge bipartite consultation between employers and workers on this part of the process and discussions with training providers; even tripartite consultation with Government because there will be need for some new polices and even a new regulatory framework.”
Dr Byer, who is the substantive Minister of Labour, also said the skills which new school leavers will require had to be considered, as well as “how we deal with those working nearing retirement who may not be keen to learn new highfaluting skills – how they can be redeployed productively”.
Dr Byer said now was the “opportune time for stakeholders who wish to engage Government in the proposing of ideas for the future development of the sector to do so”.
“So I encourage dialogue in this regard and on other green projects, not just on the plant and the processes, but on the people, the role and fate of current and potential workers. They are not to be left out as we look to advance.”