Government???s efforts to develop a comprehensive alternative energy programme for Barbados got a jumpstart today thanks to a BDS$50 million injection.

The monies are in the form of a number of agreements that were signed by the Government of Barbados, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union (EU) in support of the Barbados Public Sector Smart Energy Programme (PSSEP).

The PSSEP comprises a range of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. The IDB is making available BDS$34 million in the form of loans, whilst the EU is contributing BDS$16 (EURO 5.8 m) million as a grant.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, IDB Representative to Barbados, Joel Branski, and Head of the EU???s delegation to Barbados, Ambassador Mikael Barfod, signed the agreements in a ceremony today at Government Headquarters.

In welcoming the signing of the agreements to set the programme in motion, Mr. Stuart said: ???This Public Sector Smart Energy Programme of course, will put us in a position where we can retrofit our government buildings and to put them in a position where they can make effective use of renewable energy technologies. It will also put us in a position where we can do the necessary capacity building and institutional strengthening to make the programme effective. And, of course, it will put us in a position too, to do some pilot projects and to indulge not in wild and wanton implementation, but to experiment nevertheless with electrically powered vehicles and other such exercises.???

Mr. Stuart noted that the signing was the first step in laying the foundation for enhanced competitiveness of the Barbados economy. He pointed out that the country had been ???going through very challenging periods in recent times??? as a result of the global economic environment.

And, he added that one of the more salient features of that global economic environment was the ???skittishness??? of oil prices. As a result of this, he said that Government had no choice but to turn to renewable and alternative sources of energy to make sure that Barbados??? development was sustainably guaranteed.

The Prime Minister added that one of the defining features of the Barbados economy was the need to import most of the oil to enable business to be conducted and the ???lopsided dependency on the use of fossil fuel???.

He disclosed that at present Barbados needed approximately 10,000 barrels of oil per day to keep it functioning at optimum levels. However, he lamented that of this amount, the country only produced about 800 barrels.

???Unfortunately for us, we do not determine the price at which oil is sold on the world market and, therefore, we have been subject to the vagaries and the volatilities of oil prices over the last five, [or] six years in particular.

???Against that background therefore, it was thought that we needed to put in place a sustainable energy framework for Barbados to rationalise the way in which we are able to do our business and to conduct our affairs,??? he noted.

Mr. Stuart added: ???Of the oil we import, of course, 50 per cent is spent on power generation and another 33 per cent is spent in the area of transport. So, you see how important the importation of oil is to us.???

The Public Sector Smart Energy Programme and the agreements are equivalent to the Energy Smart Fund which targets the private sector and private households.

Mr. Branski said that the Smart Energy Programme would also ???finance capacity building for government agencies, and public information campaigns as a way of raising awareness about renewable energy and energy conservation measures???.

He added that it would complement the broad range of policies, programmes and actions that Barbados was adopting to cut energy costs and reduce the dependence on imported fuel.

Mr. Barfod explained that the process to completing the agreements had been a long one, adding, ???For the EU-Barbados relations, the signature of this EUR 5.8 million (BDS$16 Million) grant contribution marks the opening of a new and highly topical chapter of cooperation on renewable energy.” He promised that the EU would be working with the Barbados Government to explore other areas of cooperation.

The main components of the programme are the retrofitting of at least 12 government buildings with renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and the installation of solar photo voltaic systems on government buildings.

In addition, approximately 25,000 street lights will be retrofitted with energy efficiency technologies.

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