Government is being cautioned that its 2030 goal of making Barbados 100 per cent dependent on renewable forms of energy would not be complete without careful attention being given to energy efficiency.
This caution has come from Project Manager of the United Nation’s Environment Programme (UNEP) United for Efficiency (U4E) Bryan Holuj, who pointed to the need for improved regulation of cooling appliances being imported into Barbados and other Caribbean countries.
“The Government, all the way up to the Prime Minister level, is setting world-class targets that over the course of the next decade are going to transform this economy. That is not going to be possible in terms of energy and environmental targets unless you address the elephant in the room, which is cooling. It uses so much of the country’s power,” warned Holuj.
He said there was need for authorities to get a better idea of the kinds of air conditioners and refrigerators being imported so that decisions could be made on how to encourage greater energy efficiency and make sure that the rules are being well enforced and people are being held responsible.
Holuj was addressing the opening of a two-day capacity-building workshop at the Divi Southwinds hotel on Thursday, where officials from several countries gathered under the Caribbean Cooling Initiative to discuss issues relating to cooling in the Caribbean and come up with strategies.
The participants included representatives from Barbados, Jamaica, the Bahamas, St Lucia, Grenada and the Dominican Republic, as well as the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
Stating that the countries involved were “ready to lead the way”, Holuj said they have already started the process of encouraging energy efficiency, but insisted that more should be done including the implementation of a minimum energy performance standard.
He said it was expected that over the next two to three decades there would be an increase in the amount of electricity being consumed by residential appliances, a “big chunk” of which would be refrigerators and air conditioning (AC) units.
He suggested it was therefore necessary for countries in the region to gather better data on the kinds of cooling products being imported, improve regulation of those products, and monitor and enforce rules and standards.
“If you are not thinking about how you measure the impact of this, it is going to be an unwieldy challenge for most governments around the world,” said Holuj.
Stating that the process would also require outreach and awareness, the Paris-based energy efficiency advocate said countries in the region should also consider working together to implement a product registration system.
He said by establishing minimum energy performance standards and a database for the kinds of AC units and refrigerators being imported countries could reduce their electricity waste, reduce their green house gas emissions and residents would save on their electricity bills.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment Anthony Wiltshire said with the use of refrigerators and AC units set to increase drastically over the next two decades, it was important that those systems being used were more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
“In view of this reality, we must work to ensure that effective measures are implemented in order to guide the transition towards the use of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment that is ozone and climate friendly as well as energy efficient,” said Wiltshire.
He said it was for that reason that Government was taking several steps to phase out the consumption of some harmful gases by 2030 and transition to the use of non-ozone depleting climate friendly and energy efficient refrigerant alternatives.
“In this regard, the development of a product registration system that works in conjunction with energy labeling standards and minimum energy performance standards has been identified as an important tool that should be considered for implementation in Barbados and other participating countries,” reported Wiltshire.