The challenges facing the renewable energy sector as well as the substantial benefits it can bring to the island dominated the discussion during a recent event held on the subject under the theme “Solar Energy – Let’s talk about it”.
Those issues and more were discussed when CBC Radio and The GEF Small Grants Programme implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hosted a radio show entitled “Solar Energy – Let’s talk about it” moderated by Dr David Bynoe, National Coordinator of the GEF Small Grants Programme. The show was designed to discuss renewable energy with some of the stakeholders and the public.
Participants included Nielsen Beneby – Renewable Energy Manager of Emera Caribbean Renewables – a sister company to Barbados Light and Power Co., Felicia Cox – Renewable Energy Coordinator with the Barbados National Oil Company Ltd (BNOCL), Gregory Blackman – Associate Director, Sales & Business Development at CIBC FirstCaribbean, and Aiden Rogers – Vice President Barbados Renewable Energy Association.
Dr Bynoe outlined some of the challenges facing the island in building a sustainable renewable energy sector.
He said that Barbados needed to overcome the challenges for all to benefit from the investments made into this sector, particularly as it relates to solar and photovoltaics. Some of the challenges include access to appropriate finance, addressing the uptake of solar energy at a domestic level, stabilising the energy supply from solar through appropriate regulation, energy storage and microbridge development.
One of the challenges discussed that could hinder the widespread implementation of solar energy is the access to appropriate finance, which was addressed by Gregory Blackman, of CIBC FirstCaribbean. He explained: “CIBC has been working internally on refining renewable energy financing solutions and within the past 12 months, we have seen more clients becoming knowledgeable about the benefits of investing in solar energy.”
“CIBC FirstCaribbean provides up to 100 per cent financing for up to ten years for individuals, as well as financing for commercial entities,” Blackman revealed.
He added: “An investment in solar energy today is fantastic from a returns perspective, so from a financing perspective it makes assessing applications easy. The cost of installation has come down and the returns, which have been impacted by the recent Fair Trading Commission’s decision to revise what used to be called the Renewable Energy Rider, now called the Feed in Tariff Rate, which essentially fixed the rate of return that investors would receive for 20 years from the date of approval, has provided a greater level of confidence.”
Nielsen Beneby, of Emera Caribbean Renewables, suggested that investing in renewable energy gives homeowners or investors a source of passive income and helps corporations set targets of reducing their overall emissions, thereby being good stewards of the country.
“There is a lot of non-arable land in Barbados which could be used for solar energy and be converted in the future, if required, for other uses,” he said.
In explaining the role that the Barbados National Oil Company (BNOC) will play in the achievement of the National Energy Policy, Renewable Energy Coordinator, Felicia Cox, stated that “The company’s intention is to participate vigorously in the renewable energy space including the provision of residential solar, commercial solar, utility-scale projects, wind, possibly biogas and any technology which will redound to the benefit of Barbados.”
She added that the BNOC has a residential programme for which they are in discussions for finalising third-party financing options which will be publicised once completed.
The idea is to provide options, for example, long term leases, as well as cash purchases for various sizes of renewable
Barbados National Energy Policy seeks to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy and make Barbados a carbon-neutral island state by 2030. One of the ways to achieve this is by harnessing various forms of renewable energies which can create social, economic and environmental benefits for the island while providing safe, reliable and sustainable energy sources.
In addition, another benefit is that the move away from the importation of fossil fuels will reduce the outflow of foreign exchange.
There are numerous incentives designed to persuade people to invest in renewables, including the income tax incentive for the installation of renewable energy systems. These can be found at the Division of Energy’s website – energy. gov.bb. (PR)