Energy Month 2019 has been appropriately themed Empowering People: Building Resilience. This theme reflects the true experience of all Barbadians fortunate enough to be here as we perform the revolutionary work necessary to have our island state powered with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
The need for us to build resilience into Barbados’ electricity grid stems from our understanding of the havoc which has been visited upon our sister islands of Dominica, Barbuda and most recently the Bahamas.
Here at home, we must never take the potential threat of natural disasters for granted. We must never allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security on the basis of our relatively good fortune.
The inevitable effect of climate change suggests that each hurricane event we are spared may bring us closer to the hurricane event which will change our reality and indeed our lives. These unpredictable natural disasters have, in some instances, erased decades of growth and inflicted untold hardship on entire populations. Preparation, vision and foresight are therefore key elements to readiness in the event of a natural disaster.
Pursuit of true resilience requires that this Government must consider, in addition to the distributed generation of electricity through renewable sources, investments in emerging technologies such as battery storage.
Battery storage is critical as energy back-up to supplement the preponderance of Photovoltaic systems (PV’s) already installed at a number of critical institutions, such as the seaport, the airport, a number of schools which are hurricane shelters, some community centres and other government buildings.
As a result of these initiatives and with the reality of a very different future in mind, Barbadians will eventually observe, in a practical way, a changing Barbados with electric buses, wind turbines, waste to energy generation through investments in anaerobic digestion, the exploitation of ocean technology and many other new, radical types of alternative fuels.
Moreover, as we move towards the achievement of our 2030 target more and more Barbadians are opting to democratise the potential savings from electricity self-generation by investing in the PV revolution, or by investing in electric vehicles powered without the direct use of fossil fuels.
The reality is that the future will be one where new types of alternative fuels will become as commonplace to the next generation as the internal combustion engine is to ours.
This is the type of transformational shift in thinking and technology that was crucial in achieving what was thought to be impossible, when in 1961 the first man attempted to orbit the planet and only eight short years later, in 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.
There is no doubt in my mind that Barbadians will be empowered; that we will build resilience into our electricity sector as we accelerate on the road to 100 per cent Renewable Energy: building a clean and energy efficient future together. The achievement of our 2030 goal will be Barbados’ ‘Man on the Moon’ moment!
Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred A. Abrahams