Officials of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) are hoping to slash that entity’s approximately $23 million annual electricity bill with the opening of a major photovoltaic farm at the Bowmanston pumping station in St John.
In addition to the 500-kilowatt system in that parish, the US$350 million project consists of a 350-kilowatt solar facility at Lakes Folly, in Bridgetown.
The project, which is funded with a grant from the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund, is designed to reduce the island’s dependence on fossil fuel.
Work on the solar photovoltaic project began in early 2018, following the signing of the funding agreement between Barbados and the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company in October 2017.
Acting General Manager of the BWA Charles Leslie said the BWA’s multi million dollar annual energy bill was not sustainable and was severely impacting the profitability of the utility company and its ability to adequately fulfill its mandate.
Addressing the commissioning ceremony of the PV facility on Friday, he said the new combined 850-kilowatt system would help to correct that situation.
“Additionally, it increases our resilience to climate change and will aid in the BWA’s quest to become fit for purpose by reducing energy costs by approximately $700,000 annually,” said Leslie.
To date, the BWA has installed five renewable energy systems with a total capacity of just over one megawatt.
Leslie said in coming years the company would be working with the ministry and other partners to achieve a total capacity of 14 megawatts of solar photovoltaic systems at about 11 locations.
“This will significantly aid in achieving the goal set by the Government of Barbados of becoming carbon neutral by 2030,” said Leslie.
Pledging his country’s continued assistance to development in Barbados, Representative of the UAE in the Association of Caribbean States Ambassador Bader Almatrooshi said the opening of the PV facility at the pumping station was a key milestone for the fund and the sector here.
“Both the UAE and Barbados share a common vision of the importance renewable energy plays in accelerating sustainable development and bringing real benefit to the local communities,” he said.
He said it is estimated that the 850-kilowatt system will save the country an estimated US$380,000 every year by displacing about 265,000 litres of diesel fuel and 970 tonnes of carbon annually.
Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams also pointed to the need for the BWA to reduce its energy bill, revealing that of Government’s more than $70 million annual electricity bill, the BWA was the largest user of energy on the island.
Last year Government spent about $78 million on electricity.
The PV farm in St John is expected to generate approximately 700-megawatt hours of electricity with an estimated value of $280,000 per year. This, Abrahams said, would represent an almost 30 per cent savings on the BWA’s spend on electricity at the Bowmanston pumping station alone, which came up to $984,000 last year.
Expressing a desire for a continued partnership with the UAE in building out the island’s renewable energy sector, Abrahams said the National Energy Policy now before Cabinet, will be Government’s main framework to achieve its 2030 targets of making Barbados 100 per cent carbon neutral.
“This policy is to be worked in tandem with the soon-to-be developed national energy efficiency action plan, which will magnify the benefits that will be accrued in utilizing both renewable energy and energy efficiency to promote growth within the economy,” said Abrahams.
He also pointed out that the Barbados Labour Party’s promised solar PV project, to put systems on the roofs of households, would soon be rolled out.
Abrahams also stated that Government was keen on entering into partnerships with energy service companies to reduce the cost of energy here, adding that Government was not limiting itself to only solar PV systems.
“Other projects and programmes will include the exploration of ocean energy, use of wind energy and increasing the use of electric mobility,” said Abrahams.