The Caribbean???s deficiency in energy resources leads to vulnerabilities in many regards; however, the use of renewable energies will help improve the outlook for both Barbados and its neighbours throughout the region.

Minister in the Prime Minister???s Office with responsibility for Energy, Senator Darcy Boyce, made this suggestion as he opened this morning???s Developing Renewable Energy in the Marine Environment: UK-Caribbean Knowledge Sharing seminar, held at the Courtyard by Marriott in Hastings.

Hosted by the British High Commission, the event focussed on the contribution marine renewables could make to island nations, a theme which Minister Boyce said was relevant, considering the inhibitive price of petroleum products, the scarcity of the foreign exchange needed to acquire them and other challenges, such as food scarcity, which came about as a consequence.

???Fortunately for us, realising the huge potential for the exploitation of renewable and alternative energy in the region will help us to reduce our energy vulnerability. As a result, the CARICOM Heads of Government last year approved the CARICOM Energy Policy which urged regional governments to diversify their energy sources and to ensure the sustainability of their electricity sectors through increased use of renewable energy,??? Senator Boyce said, explaining that wind, biomass and waste-to-energy were some of the options.

Addressing this island???s progress in this regard, the Energy Minister noted that Barbados had legislated tax incentives for energy efficiency, renewable and alternative energy production systems, and mentioned that for several decades Barbados had successfully introduced incentives for solar hot water systems.

He said: ???More recently, we have amended our legislation to make it easier and more certain for electricity from these renewable and alternative energy sources to be integrated into our electricity grid; and we have set initial short-term targets for the amounts of electricity from interruptible renewable energy sources to be absorbed into the grid.???

With biomass and waste-to-energy system projects also on the cards, and the latter set to make a contribution to the agricultural sector by providing materials for construction and fertiliser, the Minister said that Barbados was well on its way to meeting its renewable energy targets.

???A great deal of work is being done in planning wind and solar energy systems to provide interruptible power to the grid. We expect that later this year, some licences will be issued to independent power producers in all these areas. The Barbados government???s current policy is to have, by the year 2029, 29 per cent of all electricity consumption in the island being generated from renewable energy. With the work that I have already mentioned, that target will likely be reached by 2020 and may well reach 50 per cent or more by the original 2029 date,??? he pointed out.

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