One of the leaders in the renewable energy industry is calling for a much bigger payoff for investors if Barbados is to meet the goal of total renewable energy in just over a decade.
The current returns on investments were untenable, industrialist Ralph Bizzy Williams told a Barbados Association of Professional Engineers’ (BAPE) Seminar on renewable energy at the Savannah Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church, today.
Producers of photovoltaic (PV) electricity received 18 cents per kilowatt-hour less for the same amount of energy produced by gas turbine-generated power, but Williams noted that setup costs for PV farms were substantial.
“Investors in PV are being paid 41.6 cents per KWh to replace gas turbine-generated electricity that is costing about 60 cents per KWh. This is definitely not fair to the investors,” said Williams while suggesting that the rates be based on a Government-commissioned report by the German energy economist Professor Olav Hohmeyer.
“[The Hohmeyer report] sets out what I believe is a bit low but workable FIT for PV installations that if implemented now without delay will kickstart widespread Barbadian investment in distributed PV and it will be beneficial to the consumers and generators of electricity from the sun,” explained Williams, who has already invested heavily in solar farms.
He also complained that Town and Country Planning and other regulatory agency red tape continues to get in the way of developing renewable energy. He argued that if the status quo remained, investors would simply be going around in circles, as quite often by the time the requisite permissions are granted, the technology would have changed.
In meeting the goal of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030, authorities needed to rely more on common sense rather than trying to copy the ideas of countries that do not share Barbados’ topography, the entrepreneur said.
“Can Barbados produce 100 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030? My view is that we definitely can but we cannot do it at the current price that we are paid for alternative energy electricity,” Williams stressed.
“Our regulators, town planners, Government and the private sector must all be willing to join as one united team for the sake of Barbados. The rigid mimicking of regulations from other countries that have vast areas of open land will have to stop and common sense will have to prevail on all sides,” he declared.
Last July, renewable energy producers were assured that within a month they should have an idea of the new rate at which they will be paid for selling power to the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) under the Renewable Energy Rider (RER) programme.
This promise came 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 University of the West Indies (UWI) at Cave Hill, 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 at the time.
“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 added.