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Alternative energy and its place in Barbados’ future was discussed this morning, when the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum hosted a workshop on Barbados Investment Opportunities in the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Sectors, at the Hilton Barbados.
In his opening remarks, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Barbados, Wayne Kirton, who chaired the proceedings, observed that while government was "very supportive of renewable energy investment", with a range of deductions, rebates and waivers to encourage the use of energy efficient machinery and processes, prospective financiers for such projects still faced serious challenges.
"There are three critical stumbling blocks…that are deterring investors.?? Currently, the only entity that has the legal right to sell electricity is the Light and Power Company. ??
There is no established, regulator-approved rate for any of the forms of renewable energy…. and thirdly, there are some challenges in terms of location permission. ??Several projects have been thwarted by uninformed objections to sites or by refusal to sell or lease suitable sites for commercial reasons," the CEO noted.
Mr. Kirton stressed that "investors require certainty and an established energy policy framework" which was not presently a reality in Barbados, but stated that "the good news, however, is that the first draft of the National Energy Policy and Framework has been approved by Cabinet," with additional matters related to rate regulation to be resolved within the next six months.
The issue of land suitability was one which the Invest Barbados CEO believed could only be resolved through public sensitisation and a firm position by Government.
"The third issue which I mentioned is primarily a matter of education and negotiation and perhaps, some strong, governmental persuasion…Our government needs to send the message that they are serious about their energy policy and the greening of Barbados by making some judgment calls in land use policy," he said.
Panellist and, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Andy Armstrong, revealed that Barbados’ work towards becoming a green economy was supported by Protocol Six, which is a three-year, written agreement between government, business and the trade unions.
"In the last Protocol [signed] in May, we all signed on that we would use our best efforts to make Barbados the greenest economy in the Caribbean and Latin America…to reach the 29 per cent of our energy coming from renewables by 2029, the goal from the Ministry of Energy is to install 70 megawatts of renewable energy capacity," he said, adding that wind energy would be the source to lead the way in this effort.
Other panellists were Retired General Manager of the Barbados National Oil Company Limited, Ronald Hewitt; Managing Director of Solar Dynamics, James Husbands; Managing Director of Light and Power Holdings Limited, Peter Williams and Chief Executive Officer of Williams Industries, Ralph ???Bizzy’ Williams.