Industry Minister, Donville Inniss is of the view that Government has a role to play in lowering this country???s dependency on imported fossil fuels.
Speaking this morning at the opening of the Electric Vehicle Conference at the Crane Beach Resort, the first ever of its kind to be held in the region, the Minister stated that it was no secret that CARICOM relied almost exclusively on imported fossil fuels to meet its energy needs at the commercial and personal level.
Referring to the Central Bank???s recent report that fuel imports averaged an ???uncomfortable??? 11 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, Mr. Inniss said a closer look at recent deviations from this average caused greater discomfort, as it revealed that between 2007 and 2009, the amount mushroomed from seven per cent to over 20 per cent, as the cost of oil soared to USD$147 per barrel in 2008.
He explained: ???This scenario would have replicated across the region. These increased prices have reverberated across every aspect of our daily lives. Fortunately, oil prices have dropped over the last few months but this does not mean that we as a region should feel some sense of comfort in view of the volatility of the oil market.???
Pointing out that the harsh reality was that 40 per cent of Barbados??? fuel imports goes towards power generation, the Minister continued that 30 per cent went towards transportation; 10 per cent to the commercial sector; nine to the industrial sector; eight to the residential sector; and five per cent was classified as other.
???It is therefore no surprise that unpredictable fuel import costs have such an immediate and palpable effect on our daily lives,??? he maintained.??Therefore, Mr. Inniss disclosed that it was for this reason that the Government of Barbados entered into an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank and the European Union in November 2013 to execute the Public Sector Smart Energy Programme.
???The programme is part of the Sustainable Energy Framework for Barbados and as such, shall contribute to reducing energy costs, promoting energy sustainability, reducing Green House Gas emissions and mitigating climate change. It is estimated that the over US$24 million dollars invested in this programme will save the public sector US$45 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years and avoid the production of more than 132,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions,??? the Minister revealed.
On another point, Mr. Inniss stressed that Caribbean islands must not fall prey to unsustainable financing programmes for fossil fuel, as it was more borne out of selfish geo-political desires. ???We have to invest in renewable energy as part of the walk towards a greater level of political and economic independence. Too many islands are too faint-hearted when it comes to rolling out and sustaining renewable energy policies and programmes,??? he charged.