Barbados’ second Sustainable Energy Conference and Expo opened here on Monday with strong commitments from two global funding agencies to continue supporting the country’s renewable energy campaign.
The conference, which was being held virtually, heard from the Country Representative for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Viviana Del Carmen Alva Hart who, while retracing a history of millions of dollars in investment in the renewable energy sector, pledged to keep the money coming for this purpose.
Alva Hart pledged the IDB’s ongoing backing as she praised the country for the recent release of an integrated resource and resiliency plan which aims to assess the demand and supply of energy options to achieve a more efficient, diversified and sustainable energy sector.
She said these initiatives by Barbados are in line with the bank’s vision which is its blueprint for achieving sustainable and economic development.
The country representative said Barbados has a solid foundation in accelerating its energy policy, and that in the next few years, it can take advantage of the substantial reduction in the cost of solar and wind technology because it has an abundance of these natural resources.
“The IDB has been a long-standing partner with the Government of Barbados in building this foundation and for the past 11 years, loans, grants and technical cooperation resources have been mobilised to develop and diversify the energy matrix for the island. We are committed to continuing our financial and technical support for Barbados as the country works towards its 2030 mission of having the power sector driven by renewable energy sources,” Alva Hart said.
Head of Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska said this country’s political will and drive to make energy greener and more affordable was beyond doubt.
In using Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s speech at the recent COP23 Climate Summit in Glasgow as the yardstick, the EU Ambassador said the commitment of Barbados is solid just as its will to achieve carbon neutral status by 2030.
Wasilewska suggested though that with all the will in the world the Government cannot reach its 2030 goal without the support of all key players in the country, especially ordinary citizens.
But she gave the assurance that the EU would always be there for Barbados to assist in whatever way possible.
“International and regional partners like the European Union and the IDB, will always be reliable partners to Barbados and Barbados can count on us,” the EU representative promised.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy Andrew Gittens also addressed the conference and disclosed that the ministry was committed to reviewing its energy conservation and renewable energy policy to ensure the sustainability of the sector to benefit Barbadians.
Gittens said under the national energy policy, new vehicles must now be energy efficient.
He also updated the country on other initiatives by the Government to introduce green energy.
“As at August 2021, the ministry has successfully installed 25,720 street lights, which represent about 85 per cent of street lighting across Barbados. Additionally, major audits were completed on 14 Government buildings. These 14 buildings will be retrofitted with energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning,” the permanent secretary informed the conference.
He said that to date, the ministry has installed 3.7 megawatts of renewable energy on 22 of its buildings.
Gittens disclosed that a study that was conducted on the use of ocean energy suggests that offshore wind has substantial potential for Barbados.
He said steps are being taken to determine its viability and incorporation into the energy system.
“The ministry is undertaking an energy services consultancy to determine the main services of storage. Through this consultancy, it is anticipated that the storage sector would flourish in the coming years,” he stated.
The conference, which is organised by the Energy Division in collaboration with the IDB and EU, has been discussing the Progress of Barbados’ 100 per cent Energy Transition, the Electric Mobility Transition, the Potential for Wind Energy in Barbados and Financing the Transition. (EJ)