A lack of reliable statistics – a long-time failing of governments in Barbados and the region – could be standing in the way of tapping more renewable energy sources, a senior development banker said today.
That information, said the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) chief economist Dr Justin Ram, could reveal the potential for developing wind and geothermal sources in addition to solar power.
While commending Barbados for its ambitious goal to become 100 per cent energy-dependent by 2030, he said energy data was essential for implementing strategies for developing the sector.
But, speaking to journalists at a training workshop on Caribbean renewable energy statistics opened at Accra Beach Resort, Dr Ram suggested digital technology could provide a solution to the data challenge.
He said: “When you look at the renewable energy potential that we have in the region it is tremendous.
“So from the sunlight that we have for most days of the year we can harness energy.
“Recent research that CDB has done along with the Inter-American Development Bank suggest that we also have significant offshore wind potential, as well as in the Eastern Caribbean we have significant geothermal potential.
“Now, what I think we have to do is to get the market conditions correct because ultimately many of our governments are quite highly indebted.”
The CDB economics chief suggested that in addition to gathering statistics on the energy industry, the private sector must be encouraged to become involved in the generation of electricity, particularly from renewable sources.
Dr Ram said: “I think that there is a wonderful market opportunity there for us.
“The engineers back at the Caribbean Development Bank have also suggested to me that the technology is there that can allow us to have some kind of joined up grids as well.
“Now if you think about that, that is a tremendous resilience-building initiative.
“So take, for example, if we have joined up grids and there is a hurricane that perhaps hits one of our territories and takes down the energy system there, could you imagine if we have a joined up electricity grid to another territory that you can start feeding energy into that territory that was impacted.”
Chief Project Analyst in the Ministry of Energy, Brian Haynes, told the representatives from regional institutions at the three-day workshop that the rationale for developing and establishing energy statistics and information systems was to support the planning and decision-making process within the energy sector.
The workshop’s primary objective is to build and enable capacity within the member states to develop effective energy information systems consistent with international best practices, and following a clear set of agreed definitions and methodologies used to develop, analyse and disseminate energy statistics, he said.
Haynes added: “The work of developing an energy information system is by no means an easy task as it requires the commitment of all stakeholders to make it a success.
“Indeed, we in Barbados started this as far back as 2009 and while we have made considerable headway we are still working to improve the system to keep it relevant.”