Within another month producers of electricity from renewable energy sources should have an idea of the new rate they will be paid for selling power to the Barbados Light & Power (BL&P) under the Renewable Energy Rider (RER) programme.
This promise has come from Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams, who said his Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration was “embarking on several initiatives”, including a review of the Barbados Electric Light and Power Act and the National Energy Policy 2017 – 2037 in order to facilitate a more efficient licensing process.
Addressing a one-day high level roundtable meeting on the renewable energy industry at the 3W’s Pavilion at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus on Monday, Abrahams said a review of the framework was necessary if the country were to achieve its target of 100 per cent renewable energy usage by 2030.
“We cannot have a situation where there are still temporary rates for renewable energy. In this regard, I expect to, within the next month, take a paper to Cabinet to commence the process to have permanent rates for grid-tied renewable energy systems,” Abrahams said.
“With the permanent rates for all grid-tied renewable energy systems there will be a clear implementation plan for achieving our 2030 target. That is our promise. In this regard I have requested the technocrats, as a matter of urgency, to produce a revised national energy policy, which will clearly show the targets for 2030,” he said.
Exactly two years ago, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) set a temporary rate for the power being sold to the national grid under the RER programme at $0.416/kWh for solar photovoltaic and $0.315/kWh for wind “until such time as a permanent rate may be established”.
At the time, the FTC said the decision was taken to increase the capacity limit to 500 kW from 150 kW.
Abrahams did not go into detail about other likely changes to the legislation, but insisted that any change would bring about greater clarity and make way for more timely decisions.
He said focus would also be placed on energy efficiency and energy storage, acknowledging that while Government had control over policies all stakeholders were required to work closely together to help bring about the requisite change for the sector.
Abrahams insisted that the inclusion of local investors was critical to the restructuring process of the sector, pointing out that Government would be pursing a policy that would ensure that “all Barbadians are treated as investors”.
Businessman and renewable energy investor Ralph Bizzy Williams immediately welcomed the decision of a permanent tariff for power sold to the BL&P, saying while he did not know what the permanent rate would be, he was certain the industry would “take off” once the decision was made.
He also agreed that Barbadians should have majority ownership of the renewable energy sector here.
“As far as I am concerned the sun that shines on Barbados belongs to Bajans and we should be harvesting it, not foreigners. I love foreigners, I welcome anybody here, but for goodness sakes we are in the sun belt of the world and this is our moment,” said Williams, who pointed to his company’s green energy bond was gobbled up once introduced several months ago.
He also agreed that Barbados would save millions in oil imports through the expansion of the sector, as it would no longer be “subjected to the varying prices of oil” over which it had no control.