According to the 2014 Private Sector Assessment of Barbados, it was noted that the ‘Green Energy Sector‘ was among the largest and fastest growing sectors on the island. The utilization of and conversion to systems of energy production via renewable means, continues to grow much faster than was anticipated. However, various contingencies continue to decelerate the progress our nation has made.
Of these contingencies are: difficulties in finding compatible banking initiatives which facilitate green energy, a recent economic cap which makes business start-ups through financial institutions much harder as well as an austere sector of business averse to the industrial integration of renewable energy.
Fortunately, amidst the web of challenges, there is good news. Illuminating the future, the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) is spearheading the nation’s movement towards a “100% renewable future” as stated by the organisation’s Executive Director Clyde Griffith. BREA was founded as an NGO in 2011 and since then has contributed significantly to promoting renewable energy as an alternative to the use of fossil fuels and non-energy efficient practises. The work of BREA is vast, they have facilitated and supported the St. Lucy solar farm, conduct roadshows and have in fact attracted foreign direct investment and international prestige in the renewable energy world of CARICOM, GIZ Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance (REETA) project and the European Union (EU).
We are aware, that Barbados’ strategic location provides the opportunity for the country to capitalize on the vast amounts of energy that are accessible to us 365 days a year. However, what is not as understood by some, are the actual policies in place which act as incentives towards adopting renewables. For example, there is no VAT on renewable energy systems, the import duties on renewable energy systems has been reduced to zero, but arguably the most gripping of all the incentives is the “buy all/sell all” billing arrangement with the Barbados Light and Power.
Perhaps the most exciting news for Barbados at the moment, with respect to renewable energy, is the highly anticipated BREA conference on November 10th – 11th 2016, which will facilitate members of government, representatives of CARICOM, GIZ REETA and the EU dealing with issues pertaining to the next step toward accomplishing 100% renewable energy, not only in Barbados, but across the region.
Renewable energy as a sector in Barbados has the potential to significantly reduce our annual expenditures. As it stands, we derive over 90% of our energy demands from fossil fuels, the majority of which is imported. As a nation, switching to renewable energy not only lowers our national expenditure, but simultaneously reduces our carbon footprint. This can have the domino effect in further glamorizing Barbados in highly competitive tourism markets, as we would be globally recognized and credited for its exemplary attitude towards climate change and renewable energy.
As we look toward the future, there is no doubt renewable energy has a vital space there. It is our job therefore, not only to foster and accept the transition, but to acclimate ourselves with the wisdom of conservation, efficiency and sustainability when it comes to our precious resources.
Written by Adiel Batson Future Centre Trust, Barbados Youth Corps Intern ( BREA)