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Challenges regarding implementation of renewable energy systems not insurmountable

DURING his recent lecture at the 3Ws Pavilion at the Cave Hill Campus on renewable energy’s benefits and its capability of availing economic development and creating green jobs, internationally acclaimed consultant, J. F. Scarborough highlighted some of the setbacks that may be encountered, along with possible solutions.

The featured speaker noted that the first problem comes in the form of economic challenges, whereby these technologies tend to be more expensive than existing fossil fuels when compared on a pure cost basis. Also to be considered are technical challenges encountered as new technologies are introduced. “You have to have the right know-how and engineering skills, both of which are surmountable with the right kind of programmes,” suggested Scarborough.

He then urged that the third and largest challenge is political, noting that political will is necessary in order to get these things done. “To do any form of large infrastructure investments that affect the whole population of a region takes political will and there is a lot of vested interest that is going to fight to keep the status quo in place,” Scarborough stated.

“You cannot try to go around the vested interest[s], you have to work with them because in order for these programmes to be long term and sustainable, everyone has to buy off on them. Getting over those political hurdles is the biggest challenge to be faced, and it is one that takes time,” he furthered.

“Proactive politics need to be executed in place of reactive politics – we cannot wait for the economic fallout to then try to hastily introduce the fix. Yet the argument for proactive politics will continue to be challenged by the difficulties of cost factors, resources and the changing of the status quo.

“You really need a champion in each shareholder group – someone in the public utilities that understands renewable, someone in the government that is pro-renewable (and Barbados seems to have some of these pieces in place) and someone within the private sector with knowledge of the technologies and the issues. These people need to be brought together to see how a policy can be put together that makes sense for all involved parties,” advised Scarborough.

His point on the matter of political will was backed by Ralph “Bizzy” Williams, who moved, “You have to put a system [or] regulations in place where it makes economic sense to go to renewable energy … [if not] it isn’t going to happen. The Government has to put regulations in place and associate with the Barbados Light and Power so that you can sell the energy that you generate at a price that makes sense to make the investment.”

“If we were to put a wind farm up at the Vaucluse site, we would want to transmit the power along the [existing] lines to our desalination plant at Spring Garden. This would save the Government a tremendous amount of money in electricity and reduce the price of water, but existing regulations do not permit it,” he continued.
Williams noted that while the company “would like to be able to generate electricity from wind in the highest wind regime in the island … [and is willing] to pay a fee [to the relevant authorities] per Kilowatt transmitted in order to do it”, the company is still not permitted to do such. He emphasised that it is imperative that “the Government [demonstrates] the political will to deal with these things”.

Source: Barbados Advocate



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