Minister with responsibility for Energy, Senator Darcy Boyce. (FP)

A prefeasibility study to assess the commercial potential of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) will be carried out in Barbados next year.

This was revealed by Senator Darcy Boyce recently, in an address to an audience participating in the Caribbean Water-Energy Nexus Dialogue hosted by the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Senator Boyce disclosed that the study would assess the potential of OTEC as a provider of electricity, potable water and nutrient rich water for fisheries.

He revealed that another island in the region had already started work on the construction of a plant to generate electricity through OTEC, and Barbados would be closely watching the results from this pilot.

The Minister with responsibility for Energy noted the growing acknowledgement of the nexus between energy and water, which, he said, had been heightened by the awareness of the challenges related to climate change.

“Increase in the use of energy generated from fossil fuels leads to more emissions of greenhouse gases which will accelerate the negative impacts of global climate change,” he submitted.

Senator Boyce identified these impacts as primarily water-related, as evidenced by the growing frequency of extreme hydro-climate events, such as hurricanes, floods and droughts.  “These in turn have adverse social, economic and environmental consequences,” he stated.

He said the world had begun to take action through the development of technologies which offered strong opportunities to address the water-related impacts of energy use.

Barbados and many other countries in the region were already moving towards the use of renewable energy technologies, such as wind and photovoltaics, the Energy Minister said.

This, he explained, reduced the need to use greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels to generate the electricity needed to produce and distribute potable water.

Senator Boyce reported that to date Barbados had a cumulative installed capacity of 24 megawatts of photovoltaic solar power on the grid, where 10 megawatts was centralised and produced by the utility, and the remaining 14 megawatts was distributed across businesses and households.

He further disclosed that the Barbados Water Authority had moved to take steps to produce its own electricity of three megawatts from solar photovoltaics for the pumping of water.

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