The local non government organization that focuses on renewable energy is demanding answers from Government on a $26 million solar energy manufacturing plant to be established here by April 2016 by Canadian energy firm DELTRO Group.
The Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) has called on the Freundel Stuart administration to disclose what special concessions were offered to the company and whether it would meet acceptable standards.
In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY earlier this month officials of DELTRO Group outlined plans for the establishment of the solar manufacturing plant, pointing out that they would be playing “a big role” in expanding the local solar industry and transitioning Barbados to “a centre of excellence” in renewable energy.
They also stated that among the reasons they chose here was because Government was “dedicated to incentivizing us to come here”.
At a media conference today, BREA President Aidan Rogers said any investment in the sector was “generally good news”, but his organization would meet with Minister of Industry Donville Inniss next week to request “greater details in relation to the operations” of DELTRO.
He said despite being upbeat about the level of investment, “we do have some reservations surrounding the actual particulars and details surrounding the entry of this company into the market and the impact it would have on the sector, which has grown somewhat significantly over the last four years”.
Rogers said while he did not wish to engage in “scare tactics”, he was concerned about the absence of details on the likely environmental impact the company would have on the island given the chemicals needed for the solar products.
The BREA head also expressed concern about the level of competition that companies that already operate here would face and whether the material used would adhere to international standards.
“We would want to ensure that if we are going to be allowing and encouraging investment of panels here on island from a manufacturing process, that they do meet the internationally recognizable standards,” he declared.
“We feel duty-bound as an industry association, to speak to several of these issues to get clarity both from the company themselves . . . but also with respect to the regulatory agencies who naturally ought to have greater detail and insight into the nature of the operations of the entity.”
Vice President of BREA and Managing Director of EnSmart Inc Jerry Franklin said he and others in the industry were concerned about any unfair advantage that DELTRO Group might have in the installation of the systems.
“The more significant part that is of concern to us is if they get any special incentives, therefore creating an unfair advantage in the industry,” Franklin said.
“So when you have a potentiallly large company that is not only going to be manufacturing panels but also installing systems, clearly without even an incentive from the Government they would have an advantage because they are manufacturing,” he added.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of BREA Clyde Griffith said while he was not against the company setting up in Barbados, it was about “effectively protecting” the industry.
He said he was concerned that the company had been courting the retail sector and offering discounts “in direct conflict with the fledging installation organization” here.
“We have that evidence already and we are concerned about that. So that is something we need to grapple with when we meet with the Minister of Industry.
“We can’t oppose them being registered and establishing here. What we want to see is an accommodation, which will not undermine the efforts of the established players in the country,” said Griffith.