With an estimated 66 cents in every dollar currently going towards this island’s fuel import bill, the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) says there is one sure way for Government to grow the economy.
However, BREA President Aidan Rogers is still not satisfied that enough of an enabling environment exists to support the use of alternative energy, even though he believes that tremendous savings would be realized just from converting electricity generation alone.
“The net effect is that we can actually transfer that significant wealth that we expropriate and send out the country, that 66 cents out of every $1, we can have the large portion of that retained right here to drive our own economy, to assist in education, to assist in health care, to assist in sanitation,” Rogers said at the recent media launch of a two-day Sustainable Renewable Energy Conference which begins on November 10 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
The renewable energy advocate contended that despite lower oil prices, Government was forced to find some $250 million last year alone to cover the cost for transportation and electricity generation.
“So there is still a burden on our foreign reserves,” he said.
Government spent $452.4 million on fuel last year, approximately 30 per cent less than the $645.4 million in 2014.
However, Rogers charged that beginning in 2011 “almost 66 cents in every dollar we pay for electricity was sent out of the country to purchase fuel”.
“This was not money that was going to VAT [Value Added Tax] in terms of revenue to the Government [and] it was not revenue going to [Barbados] Light & Power,” he contended.
Just last month Prime Minister Freundel Stuart announced at the inaugural European Union-Caribbean Sustainable Energy Conference that Barbados was looking to generate 65 per cent of its own power from renewable energy sources by 2030, and a 22 per cent reduction in electricity consumption by 2019.
Stuart had also stated that Barbados intended to achieve an economy-wide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 44 per cent, compared to a business-as-usual scenario by 2030.
However, Rogers warned that if such targets were to be achieved, there must be clear policy and legislation and less of the “ad hoc approach” which has characterized the renewable sector over the years.
“To go to the next level . . . policy needs to drive how the legislation is formed, policy needs to drive how the regulator treats with that regulation . . . .So policy is very important,” he told reporters.
However, he lamented that the actual policy parameters to guide the sector’s development had not been solidified.
“We only have a draft policy,” he said, adding that a final document should be ready by yearend.
BREA’s Executive Director Clyde Griffith said “one of the great elements in moving this economy forward” was cutting down on imported oil and quickly turning to more renewable energy sources.
“We are looking at having eventually 100 per cent renewable energy in Barbados and the Caribbean and we want to encourage other Caribbean countries as the way forward,” said Griffith, who is seeking to establish a Caribbean Renewable Energy Association based on the BREA model.