We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.

— Old Indian proverb

For humanity, energy is a primary basic physical need. Our economy and ecology is inextricably linked. Production and use of most goods we enjoy requires energy. It is the lifeblood of our society. The SUN which shines anew every day is the ultimate source of all energy on earth and is responsible for:

  • Solar thermal energy (heating)
  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity
  • Direct wind power
  • Water cycle which provides hydro power from waterfalls and rivers
  • Ocean movement (waves and currents)
  • Plants / Algae grow and provide bio-fuels, biomass and bio-gas.
  • Geo-thermal

Energy from these naturally occurring cyclical processes, and not from mining reserves that have been sequestered over a millennium such as oil, gas and coal reserves (ever deeper beneath the earths’ surface) and harvesting indigenous forest, is referred to as renewable energy.

Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”

(World Conference on environment and development 1987).

Renewable Energy (RE) goes hand in hand with energy efficiency (EE) and prudent energy management is considered key to a sustainable energy future. Our region is perfectly suited for solar applications. The benefits of harvesting thermal energy for heating water has been realized for decades. The roofs of our homes, commercial, industrial and public sector buildings provide the necessary resource required to generate all of our electrical needs using Photovoltaic (PV) technology. This has already been tested and proven in other countries.

Our travel distances are conducive to the use of electric vehicles which can get their charge from solar PV arrays and help build a SMART grid.

Economic no brainer

Current pricing due to mass production, coupled with recessionary spending, is now offering a 50 % discount on implementation rates from recent years.

Zero-rating on renewable energy systems for VAT purposes announced in the recent budget (pg. 72, 73) with pilot project feed-in tariffs of 1.8 X Fuel Charge Adjustment (FCA) offered under the renewable energy rider (RER) are yielding returns of better than 15 % per annum for investors. Payback periods are projected at less than five years. Looking at it another way, amortizing equipment over a reasonably expected lifespan equates to the possibility of us buying electricity at less than a third the cost. Borrowing on the commercial market at 9 % on a reducing balance, over 7 years, to install an affordable system will produce positive cash flow from the outset. After the loan is repaid, credit on your electricity bill could even yield extra personal retirement income or more corporate revenue at year-end. Substitution with solar electricity is now a given, an ‘economic no brainer’ whether utility interactive battery systems or grid-tied are chosen, as are conservation and energy efficiency measures.

  • The Ministry of Finance has referenced Section 37 H, Cap 73 for information about energy incentives.
  • A Consultation Paper and Summary of Pilot Programmes, Evaluation and Recommendations are available on www.ftc.gov.bb.

There are regulatory issues, standards and safety requirements. Government, the Fair Trading Commission, the utility, a growing list of service providers and inspectorate should guarantee implementation of systems to suit most budgets.

Developmental financing offered by egfl.bb for loans between $ 30,000 and $ 1.5 M with 3.75 % interest on reducing balance over 10 years, along with more income / land tax incentives when Government legislation is finalized has the potential to quickly encourage projects to the newly proposed ceiling of five Megawatts. Rates being favorable, Independent Power Producers (IPP’s) stand to benefit from excellent returns on utility-scale projects if other technologies, better suited to base-load power, using wind, waves, ocean currents, biomass, bio-gas, algae, etc. can be sought out. Recovery of energy from waste (WTE) could also be considered as a renewable resource.

Innovations welcome

Local venture capital, availed to encourage proposals for funding, in tandem with the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) and other existing organizations can create opportunity for our citizens to innovate and contribute. We can be the exporters of ingenuity, intellectual property and patents, creating jobs and increasing GDP.

  • Devise modifications to cool PV panels, increasing power output and preheating water for other processes.
  • Thermal systems might be retrofitted with devices to produce electricity using surplus hot water or combinations developed conjunction with thermal differential in swimming pools and the oceans nearby to achieve more efficient air conditioning.
  • New water saving devices can be developed.
  • Hydrogen Fuel cell technology is a new area to be explored.
  • Utilizing more locally available food parallels harvesting energy from renewable sources. Breadfruit flour (solar dried of course)for baking fish cakes flavored with coconut jelly, mango and goose-berry drinks, sweetened with cane juice rather than processed sugar brought back from abroad are but a few examples.

Convenience costs

Being part of the industrial revolution opposes diversification and erodes independence. ‘No man is an island’, but we must plan and organize to maximize benefits for our people. We must not waste our natural resources and it does not hurt to be prepared. Measures to attain energy security and stave off water scarcity are wise.

Our Honorable Prime Minister has recently set a target of 25% renewable energy use by 2025. Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Delisle Worrell has recently called on the people of Barbados to serve by seeking new horizons. We can use the equity we have built up to improve the national economy. Invest in technologies that reduce dependence on imported food and fuels, preserve valuable local resources and conserve foreign exchange thus truly securing our freedom.

Renewable energy resources

Private Companies Actively Engaged in Renewable Energy (PDF download)

Information is available and tours of various installations can be arranged as part of a consulting package from Andrew Simpson at Attic Developments Ltd. on 437-8188 island@caribsurf.com.

Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA)

The Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) was established in 2010 as an NGO to represent service providers, to raise the level of awareness and educate the public. BREA is also working as a lobby group to influence the policy makers on behalf of its membership. In January 2013, it will launch a major public campaign to inform the country on issues of energy efficiency. It is currently seeking sponsorship to further this effort. Individuals and the corporate community are invited to contact Rawle Chandler, President or e-mail clydeag@yahoo.com.

About the Author

Andrew Simpson
Andrew Simpson -

Andrew Simpson, Managing Director at Attic Development Ltd. Environmentally minded Christian, husband and father of two. I have been increasingly using RE and EE in our family home and business for many years, enjoying lower electricity costs, energy security and much personal satisfaction. As well, in assisting others, I have been able to evaluate performance and value of many products.