Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Division of Energy, Debra Dowridge, speaking at a press event to announce that the Energy Smart Fund has been re-capitalised to the tune of US$13 million from the Sustainable Energy Investment Programme. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

As Government continues its mission to have the country powered by 100 per cent renewable sources, robust investment in renewable energy (RE) and thriving energy efficient (EE) programmes have been identified as a key component of the road to 2030 and beyond.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Division of Energy, Ministry of Energy and Business Development, Debra Dowridge, expressed this view, saying Government’s partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union (EU) to provide the necessary loan and grant resources to businesses under Smart Fund II, was a major strategy to achieving this goal.

Ms. Dowridge made the comments at a press event on Tuesday, where it was announced that the Energy Smart Fund has been re-capitalised to the tune of US$13 million from the Sustainable Energy Investment Programme (Smart Fund II).

She noted that energy consumption plays a key role in the Barbadian economy, not only from an economic point of view, but also a social, developmental and an environmental perspective. She continued: “This target (to power the country by renewable sources) is deliberately coupled with the goal of also achieving carbon neutrality across all sectors.

“These ambitious targets were identified in the Barbados National Energy Policy 2019-2030, the objective of which is to make Barbados energy independent through renewable energy and to reduce the cost of energy for all Barbadians. With seven years left to implement – we, therefore, do not have time to waste!”

Representative of the IDB, Viviana del Carmen Alva Hart, said reaching net-zero emissions was one of the most critical and complex challenges being faced by the world.

She stated that it was encouraging to see how this country’s leadership had started the process of decarbonisation, by planning resilient energy systems and establishing an overarching framework.

“In the last decade, Barbados has shown tremendous progress in the use of renewable energy, specifically with the installation of solar projects. Anywhere you go, it is evident how many factories, warehouses and enterprises in general have solar panels on their rooftops, which are producing energy for their daily activities. And not just energy, but clean, reliable, and sustainable energy from renewable resources,” Ms. Hart added.

She proffered the view that it was important to support Barbados’ small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with financial resources to develop energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and grant resources to finance the required pre-investment studies and pilots.

Representative of the IDB, Viviana del Carmen Alva Hart, said , Barbados has shown tremendous progress in the use of renewable energy, specifically with the installation of solar projects. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

“Having access to convenient interest rates and financial conditions is key for continuing the expansion of sustainable energy solutions and projects. This allows small and medium-sized enterprises to overcome barriers which, in the past, prevented the uptake of energy projects such as lack of appropriate resources to kick start the planning and presentation of project ideas for their financing to become a reality,” Ms. Hart indicated.

In his remarks, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, Luis Maia, described the Smart Fund II programme as “extremely important and timely”. He said it was the best example of what could be done through partnerships, as he called the programme another solid step in the right direction as the country aims to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

Mr. Maia continued: “Like Europe and any other part of the world, but with a higher degree of urgency due mainly to the high costs offered by the “old ways” – the Caribbean needs to decrease its energy dependency on fossil fuels, while transitioning to use sustainable, zero-carbon resources to fuel its economy.

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives have the potential to reduce electricity costs and prices, reduce the amount of recurrent foreign exchange committed to fossil fuel imports, and contribute to energy security in Barbados, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Head of Cooperation underscored the importance of Smart Fund II, saying that responsibility, sustainability and results were the guiding principles of the programme.

He pointed out that it would promote investments in renewable energy, diversify the energy mix, increase energy security, lower energy costs and improve competitiveness of SMEs, and consequently reduce negative environmental impacts.

To begin the application process for Smart Fund II, businesses may fill out the contact form on the website http://www.smartenergybarbados.com/energy-division/financing/.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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