Former Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell is raising questions about the likelihood of Barbados achieving its ten-year goal of power from 100 per cent renewable sources.
He said it was time Government develop a “practical, consistent policy document on alternative energy, with realistic targets and an action plan for tracking progress”, which he said would create more certainty for investors.
Pointing to the recent power outages that affected the island, Worrell said this further highlighted the need for a practical and fully informed strategy document with realistic guidelines, responsibilities and monitoring to be of the “highest priority”.
Worrell said in his December newsletter that the document should clarify governments targets for renewable energy.
“Is it to generate all electricity from renewable sources, or to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels? Neither of these objectives can now be attained by 2030,” said Worrell.
“The Barbados Light & Power has now ordered a new 33 megawatt generating plant which runs on fossil fuel, and which will still be in full operation in ten years’ time. In addition, most of the gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles imported this year will still be on the roads in 2030,” he predicted.
Worrell said Government’s renewable energy policy document should also be clear on the chosen mix of technologies to be used in achieving the renewable energy targets.
He said while solar photovoltaic was already in place and approval had been given for the first wind turbines, the expected contributions of biofuels and waste-to-energy remained uncertain.
“Government Ministers have also spoken of ocean thermal, offshore wind and other technologies which are not commercially feasible at the present time. If they are to be part of the mix, the target date will be pushed even further into the future. Also, no decision has been announced on energy storage options,” said Worrell.
The economist said the proposed renewable energy strategy document should also include a timeline for bringing tax policy in line with the renewable energy target.
“Government Ministers admit publicly that the tax on imported electric vehicles is inconsistent with the renewable energy target. There are no tax concessions or fiscal incentives for independent power producers; at least one potential investor in wind turbines has given up in frustration after failing to secure planning permission after years of effort,” he said.
Worrell said the replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy sources had the potential to transform the Barbadian economy by saving foreign exchange, liberating the country from oil price fluctuations, and creating new jobs and income.
However, he pointed out that the changeover “will not happen on its own”, insisting that it must be guided by a fully informed, expertly crafted strategy document with realistic targets and an action plan for implementation.
“The policy document must be clear on the renewable energy technologies to be adopted, and government must be clear on its own role, and on the incentives to be provided to private investors and energy users. The action plan must include intermediate targets and deadlines at three to five-year intervals, with indicators for Government, investors and users, to make sure the programme stays on track,” Worrell recommended. [email protected]