“Why Barbados?” is perhaps less of a question when you are Barbadian. That said, I’ve worked and lived in a number of countries including Australia, China, England and Papua New Guinea. Returning to Barbados in 2011 after 12 years abroad to launch Megapower Ltd., with my husband Simon, and promote the uptake of electric vehicles powered by renewables, was undoubtedly a risk and a choice.
Barbadians are interested in eco-friendly products
Barbados has significantly higher taxes on electric vehicles than most of the Caribbean countries that Megapower works with to promote EV uptake, including Antigua, St. Lucia, Trinidad and The Bahamas. However, with organisations championing positive environmental change, such as The Future Centre Trust, Be The Change Barbados and Slow Food Barbados, Barbadians have gained an explicit interest in preservation and reducing emissions. With growing knowledge and understanding of climate change, including through The annual Barbados Film Festival and screenings of “Chasing Coral” and “A Plastic Ocean”, there has been a “call to action” across Barbados and demand for alternative, eco-friendly products on the market.
BICO’s launch of Vegeware, sustainable packaging and catering disposables, as a plastic and styrofoam alternative has resulted in many businesses and individuals swapping products despite the higher cost. This has also been the case with electric vehicles. Global companies operating in Barbados, including Brookfield Bank, Gildan, Viking Heat Engines and Regus for the most part have Environmental Sustainability and Emissions Strategies, Policies, or similar, across all offices and this influence has trickled into some local organisations as well. This local, “green” outlook has assisted Megapower to develop partnerships in the rollout of publicly accessible EV charging infrastructure across Barbados at strategic locations. This includes charging infrastructure at Emerald City, Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, Massy Warrens and Sunset Crest, Sheraton Centre, SkyMall, The Walk and The Crane Resort.
Effective renewables influencers in Barbados market
Testing the market for electric vehicles on an island has been ideal. Where range anxiety has been a challenge in larger countries, this is not the case in Barbados. EV customers such as DHL and UPS are on the road all day every day and now saving over 50% of their fuel bill. Further, DHL is recharging their delivery vehicles with electricity generated from their solar photovoltaic system. This is possible because Barbados has an established regulatory framework and feed in tariff for solar photovoltaic systems. This is not the case in many countries across the Caribbean region, where in extreme cases it is illegal to generate your own power from renewables and connect into the grid. Barbados’ non-state actor in this area, The Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA), is active and progressive, providing opportunities for its members to network, influence regulators and shape the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector.
Barbados’ sole electrical utility, Emera Caribbean/BL&P, is forward thinking. The company publicly acknowledges electric vehicles as part of their growth strategy, swapping to eleven electric vehicles in their fleet. Moreso, the utility has itself committed to generating electricity from renewable energy with a 10MW solar plant in St. Lucy and a wind farm planned.
Barbados is well-connected with over 20 cities directly accessible, including St. John’s in Antigua where Megapower opened a second office in 2016. As the company develops EV battery after-use applications, including mobile lighting solutions and solar generators Barbados is perfectly placed as its headquarters.