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Barbados Renewable Energy Association calls for more financial assistance for RE installations

THE BARBADOS RENEWABLE ENERGY ASSOCIATION (BREA) is not satisfied that financial institutions are doing enough to assist ordinary people in setting up renewable energy systems, but one player in the industry has tossed the ball back in the court of Barbadian businesses and individuals interested in making the transition.

Clyde Griffith, executive director of non-governmental organization BREA, contends that many Barbadians who wanted to set up systems weren’t getting the financial support.

However, founder and chief innovation officer of Innogen Technologies, Mark Hill, believes that while financial institutions could do more, it was also up to people to “do what they had to” in an effort to expand the industry.

Griffith told the BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that money was a stumbling block for those interested in using more alternative energy sources.

“I don’t think we are making enough progress. The Government had provided incentives in the Budget but that is not enough because in order to benefit from the budgetary proposals, people have to first invest money,” he said.

“The financial institutions there to assist ordinary Barbadians have not been as forthcoming as we would like them to be. If you can borrow money and invest in retrofitting then the incentives make sense, but the incentives right now are only incentives on paper. We are hoping that somehow we can be able to find the requisite financing.”

Currently, individuals are given a tax incentive of $10 000 while registered small businesses are allowed a tax incentive of $25 000.

Following last year’s Budget, which outlined the incentives for setting up renewable energy systems, Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell suggested that there was no shortage of funding available. He said the sector had the potential to save the island millions in foreign exchange but implementing the necessary measures was too slow in coming.

Griffith revealed that some of the association’s members were currently doing proposals for clients “but the big headache is having the requisite financing to do the retrofitting”.

In a separate interview, Hill said he believed the Government’s intervention to assist individuals and businesses had so far been adequate and a number of financial institutions had already “stepped up to the table” by offering somewhat creative financing.

“It is an innovation task. So I think it is just how much more innovative the financial institutions can be within the context of the financial arrangements that the laws allow,” he said.

“The issue right now in the Caribbean is about offering innovative financing, but we are seeing significant breakthrough in that area and we expect to see other financial instruments come to the table that will make it a lot more exciting for customers to come on board.”

Hill was quick to point out, however, that over the past two or so years there had been an increase in the number of both residential and commercial customers showing interest.

“We are seeing a rapid uptake on the domestic side as the finance solutions become more viable,” he said.

Government currently spends close to $600 million annually on imported fossil fuel and is seeking to reduce that amount through the use of alternative energy.

Category/ies:Barbados News.
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