by Marlon Madden
Prime Minister Mia Mottley is making it clear that every Barbadian will be made to get on board in Barbados’ bid to achieve its goal of making the switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources by 2030.
Her declaration came along with the disclosure that at least a quarter of the local renewable energy market will be reserved for the water and transportation sectors, and non-governmental organisations.
She also reported that her administration had recently decided on a new housing programme that would see residents occupying highly-subsidized housing on land for which they would not be required to pay, once they enter a contract with Government to assign their roofs for the benefit of solar photovoltaic panels.
Mottley was speaking at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Wednesday during the joint launching ceremony of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) Project Preparation Facility (PPF) and the Credit Risk Abatement Facility (CRAF), an initiative of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF).
She expressed disappointment that the country had imported about $728 million in fossil fuel last year, despite the need to “make haste” in achieving the goal of becoming 100 per cent reliant on renewable sources of energy by 2030.
She said there was now recognition that there will have to be an “intervention role” for the state in the process.
“A determination will be made that the economic benefits and the benefit for national security justify our involvement in the areas of renewable energy even at this time when the prices of oil have not necessarily reached the levels that would justify in all aspects, a financial return.
“This is a serious conversation to have because in many instances it is going to require some level of intervention on the part of the state if we are going to see any action that is appreciable over the course of the next few years while the price of oil remains depressed,” said Mottley.
“For us, it is fundamentally an issue of survival and it is meant that we will have to discuss whether in truth and in fact, we may need as a country, to recognise there is a cost to smallness and there is a cost to our wanting to survive and that cost will be borne by us all by making the transition to renewable energy,” she warned.
Mottley said her administration had already made critical decisions as it’s related to the renewable energy sector and it would continue to do so, ensuring that economic enfranchisement was a part of the objective.
“We have just agreed to the establishment of a company called HOPE Inc. it will essentially undertake housing and will enter arrangements for those potential homeowners who are interested in being able to access property at significantly subsidized prices, by assigning the rents to their roof for those who are prepared to put on the photovoltaic panels, hence remove from them the cost of the land that they would otherwise have to find the money for,” she explained.
“Put simply, those potential homeowners who are prepared to enter a contract to assign the benefits of their roof for energy production through solar photovoltaic panels will then be able to have access to the land on which their house will be built without having to pay
for the land,” she said.
Stating that it would result in a “modest” rate of return for the development of the housing programme, Mottley said at the same time, it would allow people who otherwise would have had difficulty in getting a mortgage to now be able to do so.
In relation to reserving 25 per cent of the renewable energy market for the public transport sector, the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) and civil society, Mottley said these were areas that were critical to national development.
With respect to the water sector, Mottley highlighted the need for the BWA to eliminate leakages or non-revenue water and replace water mains across the island, a venture which she acknowledged would require a lot of funding.
She explained that it was through the use of renewable energy that the water utility would be able to help finance such a project.
Mottley said her Government had taken a decision that would see the BWA realise another revenue stream in the switch from fossil fuels use.
“Fifteen per cent of the renewable energy market will be reserved for the Barbados Water Authority to act either singularly or collaboratively . . . in a joint venture in order to be able to ensure there is a solid revenue stream for the Barbados Water Authority so that it may literally confront the challenges of distribution and augmentation as a result of the climate crisis over the course of the next 20 to 25 years, which we believe is a minimum time necessary to replace the 2,500 kilometres of pipe that we have on this island.”
In relation to the transportation sector, Mottley said Government had decided to purchase electric and hybrid vehicles starting this year because it was a critical decision even as consultations with stakeholders continued about a full national switch over to electric vehicles.
She did not say what percentage of the renewable energy market the Transport Board would account for or what percentage of the 25 per cent would be reserved for the non-governmental organisations.