by Colville Mounsey
The head of this island’s renewable energy sector is warning Government to pick up the pace on key infrastructural and policy changes, otherwise, the goal of making Barbados 100 per cent dependent on renewable energy by 2030, will amount to nothing more than just fancy talk.
This is the view of president of the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA), Jerry Franklin, who explained that among other critical issues to be addressed, Government must immediately extend Barbados Light and Power’s (BL&P) licence to provide electricity to the island.
He explained that it was unreasonable to expect BL&P to make substantial investments in renewable energy infrastructure without assurances after their licence expires in 11 years.
Speaking to reporters this morning at BREA’s 7th annual general meeting at the 3W’s Oval pavilion, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Franklin made it clear that without the investments from BL&P, Government’s goal was simply out of reach.
“The utility company’s involvement is critical. We cannot do this without the involvement of the utility company and currently their licence expires in 11 years. This might sound like a long time to some people, but I can assure that it is not. They (BL&P) will need to start to make investments to support this transition and they are going to be hesitant to do that if they don’t know if they even going to be existing in the next 11 years. So, we strongly believe that the utility’s licence needs to get addressed now so that they can be part of this process in developing the detailed strategy on how we move forward to 100 per cent renewable energy,” explained Franklin.
In addition to the licence, Franklin also expressed concern about the length of time that it is still taking investors to get the requisite permissions for renewable energy projects.
“This cannot continue going forward. We have scenarios where projects have been under development for over two or three years and if we are to achieve this target then we cannot be taking this long to make a decision. There must be ministerial synchronization with the policy. It is not just about the Ministry of Energy alone. All departments that play a role must be on the same page,” said Franklin.
The renewable energy advocate emphasised, “This is a national target, and everybody must be aligned so that when an application is being made for a solar farm all of the various Government agencies must have their processes in place so that the decision can be made quickly and that developer can know if he is going ahead or not.”
The BREA president noted that the eight-month-old Mia Mottley administration has been brought up to speed on the issue of the licence. However, he is concerned that with only a short time remaining for such an ambitious enterprise of switching fully to renewable energy, there is not enough urgency being shown.
“The Government is well aware of this and a number of other issues. We raised it with them when the new administration came in. We are aware that there have already been a number of policies and regulatory amendments made as well as new documents developed. We are hoping that we will hear about some of these decisions early in this year,” he stressed.