As the Government’s largest solar power array to date was commissioned today, a development banker suggests that alternative energy is already available to begin meeting the country’s 100 per cent green energy target in a decade.
Even as Government agreed to the Barbados Light and Power Company’s rental of temporary diesel fuel generators to shore up the national grid, the Inter-American Development Bank’s chief of operators Francisco Javier Urra said the mission to shore up an overwhelmed power supply, which broke down two weeks ago, does not have to mean more investment in fossil-fuel technology.
Urra contends that the short-term power plan need not defy the Government’s long-term goal of being 100 per cent carbon neutral by 2030.
Barbados was hit by two days of power outages last month, forcing schools and some businesses to close and interrupting water supply prompting an agreement to bring in temporary power generation using low-grade fuel.
Light and Power, a subsidiary of Canada’s Emera Inc., suffered an engine failure beginning early on November 18, causing a nationwide blackout. The outage prompted intervention from Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who bluntly described the outages as embarrassing. Light and Power has since opted to lease generators as a short-term solution to ensuring the stability of the country’s power supply.
But the IDB senior official argued that both the long and short-term energy goals are one and the same. He was speaking at the unveiling of a new photovoltaic system at the engineering section of the Grantley Adams International Airport, the majority of which was financed by the IDB.
Urra said: “Prime Minister Mottley has shown great leadership in ensuring that addressing any short-term needs or challenges does not take the energy sector off its course of having a carbon-free Barbados by 2030.
“Commissioning this solar PV system into the grid illustrates that working towards renewable energy is also working towards efficiency and reliability of the system as a whole.”
The project is the largest photovoltaic system installed under the Government’s Public Sector Smart Energy (PSSE) programme and has a total capacity of 381 kilowatts. From this system, the airport is expected to generate approximately $290,000 (US$145,000) in annual revenue by feeding into the grid.
Apart from the clean energy component, Urra contended that renewable energy technology was actually becoming cheaper each year and is therefore another reason for the Mia Mottley administration to stay the course on its clean power plans.
He said: “More and more, solar PV technology is becoming a better alternative to imported fossil fuels generation.
“Prices of Solar PV systems have dropped more than 50 per cent in the last seven years and, storage technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries, are also dropping the costs at a rapid rate, therefore making these technologies more economically viable.”