Barbados stands to reap?? close to USD$300 million in energy savings over the next 20 years, if officials move with haste to adopt the recommendations contained in the comprehensive Sustainable Energy Framework document.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Investment, Telecommunications and Energy, Senator Darcy Boyce, made this revelation last Monday, while addressing the Government and the Central Bank of Barbados’ two-day seminar entitled: "Alternative Energy: Pathway to a Sustainable Future in Barbados".?? It was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

In outlining the importance of the report, the Minister of State said the consultants advised technocrats to "unlock the viable investments in energy efficiency to reduce energy costs, improve energy security and enhance environmental sustainability".

Additionally, the document’s guidelines would assist technocrats in reducing the vulnerability of the island’s economy to price increases and price shocks as it related to an over-reliance on fossil fuels.

Senator Boyce opined: "You would recall when oil prices went to as high as $147 a barrel during the course of 2007 and 2008, there were shocks on, not only our [Barbados] economy, but all economies.?? So, we have to seek to reduce that level of vulnerability of economies to these impacts and to put a cap on the volatility of energy prices when they move."

He suggested that greater emphasis be placed on renewable energy education to create a highly skilled industry for tertiary education graduates to utilise their expertise.

The Minister of State alluded to the creation of a Smart Energy Fund, as the impetus to reducing the cost of energy in hotels and other businesses across the island.

Senator Boyce also spoke about government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions through the Sustainable Energy Framework.?? "The estimate is that we would be able to reduce carbon emissions over the next 20 years by seven million tonnes.?? This would result in a cleaner environment for all Barbadians."

He said the document highlighted ocean thermal energy conversion; wave energy conversion and sea water air conditioning, as areas where more research can be carried out by the academic community.??

Senator Boyce added: "Over the next seven years, government would put funding in place to jump-start some much needed vibrant research with the University of the West Indies to study the viability of these technologies, with the view to implementing them in our alternative energy mixes."

He said the consultants suggested that the island could reduce its demands for fossil fuels in the next two decades by 70 per cent as opposed to a situation where the island’s dependency on fossils stood at 97 per cent.

"That is a fairly aggressive target … but it is not an impossible target… since many of the decisions to reach that objective have already been taken…," Senator Boyce noted.

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