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ON THE LEFT: Energy The Next Economic Frontier

Alternative energy is the thing that can transform the Barbados economy. It can also provide a platform for global leadership in this area. The Barbados brand is a strong brand; we are a coveted brand in the things that we are competitive in.

Our tourism and our international business and financial services sector are the main elements of our economy in recent times and we have done so because of the quality of the services that we provide. And I think that with alternative energy we have a major opportunity to add to that mix with a third element of diversification.

We used to think that the greatest windfall a country could experience was to find oil in commercial quantities and we all envied Trinidad’s status as CARICOM’s only oil exporter. However, technology has now evolved to the point where the entire Caribbean and sunny countries everywhere have much better prospects than oil producers do. We can produce all the power we need from renewable energy sources and, unlike oil, supplies will never run out. In Barbados’ case, we can generate all the electricity the country could possibly need from solar and wind energy.

If the necessary solar and wind generation had been in place last year Barbados would have saved about $209 million in fuel imports and if in addition all cars, buses, trucks, construction machinery, etc. were powered exclusively by electricity we would have saved another $182 million and in all we would have reduced our import bill by 15 per cent. In 2014 when the oil price was higher we would have reduced it by 20 per cent. The money we would have saved could have been used to invest in new hotels or infrastructure, or other things that would create employment-generating opportunities. It would have increased investment by over 50 per cent and might have created hundreds of new jobs. The overall impact on the economy would have been to raise our economic growth from a little less than one per cent, which is the Central Bank’s estimate of the growth last year, to more than five per cent. In the Caribbean growth league tables Barbados would have been number one last year.

What stands between us and this beckoning future is the investment that must be made in solar photovoltaics, wind generators, storage facilities and power distribution. In addition, all gasoline and diesel powered vehicles would need to be phased out in favour of electric vehicles, which higher performance by the way. This requires Government to commit fully to the 100 per cent renewable energy and provide the incentives and support needed to accelerate the required investment. We have already made a promising start in the direction of energy independence.

All this can done with systems that are tried and proven, and we have studies available which demonstrate how these systems can be combined in a way to satisfy 100 per cent of the country’s needs with fuel that is abundance, free of cost and that will never run out. A remarkable opportunity is now ours for the taking. What is needed is firm commitment on the part of our Government and from Barbados and the entire Caribbean nation.


Category/ies:Articles, Barbados Articles, Regional Articles, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Trinidad and Tobago Articles, Wind energy.
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