One player in the renewable energy space is seeking to expand his reach across Barbados as he takes a relatively new approach towards helping the island achieve its goal of becoming a fossil free environment by 2030.
However, he is banking on major improvements in the ‘doing business’ climate, and a lot more education of, and buy-in from residents, for his plan to take root.
Chief Executive Officer of Megawatt Energy Inc. Michael Smasher Cadogan says he hopes to help the island become 100 per cent reliant on renewable forms of energy by renting roof spaces from businesses and residents and installing systems.
“I have Canadian partners, the Blackstone Energy, and we incorporated a company in Barbados – the Blackstone Megawatt Energy Services Inc. I would say about two years now. So we have been here dealing with different entities in the space of energy efficiency, solar, just about anything to do with energy,” Cadogan told Barbados TODAY in a recent interview.
Last month, the Mia Mottley administration introduced its energy roadmap to 2030 which Cadogan said he welcomed since “it is the right thing to do”.
He explained that his plan was to rent roof spaces from individuals and businesses across the island, install renewable energy systems and sell the power generated to the national grid.
Noting that it was already being done in Canada and other countries, Cadogan said, “That is the way I think they should do it in Barbados and it will work better.”
“It is the international way. If you have a roof space we look at and we want to lease [it], we do a negotiation with you for a standard fee per annum and we pay you every year for your roof. It is like your roof becomes my roof, I build the system and send it straight to the grid,” he explained.
Cadogan has already negotiated a contract with the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) to lease several of its roof spaces in order to install a 5 megawatts project (MW).
“So we are just waiting now to get our licence to start to build our first project in Barbados, and we plan to do more,” said Cadogan.
“We are independent power providers. When we put in for our licence, they didn’t have the feed-in-tariff initiative so we had to go in under the Renewable Energy Rider (RER). We went in with at least 500 kW to be on the RER so we have 19 individual projects that add up to 5 MW,” he added.
“We have the property, but we are waiting now to hear from Town and Country Planning, the renewable energy division, to get our licence to do what we have to do. I love the country. I was born here and I want to do things for the country,” said Cadogan, who pointed out that he was in the process of identifying more roof spaces to rent.
He said while residents were more receptive, commercial entities were a little reluctant.
“Before, we were looking at dealing with commercial companies here that have big light bills. But we found that you say things to them and explain to them, they listen, and the next time you come back, they say maybe they could do it themselves,” he said.
Cadogan said if the Government is to achieve its goal of eliminating the use of fossil fuel by 2030, then Government agencies had to “get away from the bureaucracy”.
“Let the people in these offices do their work. That is what needs to happen. We can have a plan but if the people we have in place are not doing what they are supposed to do, then that is a different thing,” he stressed.
“I am here trying to set this up first and get this done. We have been working on this for the past four years, but the Government has changed. So the guys who are in now have to learn what happened before and then put things together again,” he added.
With a new feed-in-tariff arrangement announced recently by the Fair Trading Commission (FTC), Cadogan said he was now in a better position to know what investment to make and what returns to expect.
“So now that the [Electric Light & Power] Act is passed and the Fair Trading Commission has passed the feed-in-tariffs, we know there is a number and we will be grandfathered from the Renewable Energy Rider. Now we can say ‘yes, we know what time it is’ and we can do what we want to do,” he said.
Cadogan is pleased that the use of renewable energy was catching on in Barbados, but insisted that it will take time for everyone to get on board and it will require a lot more education to entice the average resident.
“Renewable energy, you need to explain it to the people. The average man, it is not possible for him to go to any bank and get $20,000 or $25,000 to put a system on his house,” he said.
Cadogan said his plan was to expand his reach into other countries including St. Lucia, The Bahamas, Grenada and St. Kitts, once he was fully established in Barbados.
“While Barbados is our head office, we want to go straight to the region. That is what I want to do,” he said.