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Untapped potential

 

There is a belief that the recently passed Electric Light and Power Act could provide an excellent opportunity for farms across the island to become much more viable than they have been in the past.

 

Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul, told The Barbados Advocate that where the previous legislation restricted electricity generation by independent producers, the new Act provides a number of avenues for anyone desirous of getting involved in such business activity, including farmers, to utilise technology to produce renewable energy and reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. 

 

As such, Paul noted that in addition to capitalising on solar and/or wind energy, livestock farms in particular, by virtue of the nature of their operations, also have an energy source that remains virtually untapped in this country.

 

“We have not seen a lot of use of animal waste from farms for anything other than fertiliser. We are looking at a project at the moment which looks at biogas digestion, as is being done in parts of the United States, and what we are looking to do is do two things – generating energy and using the animal waste as fertiliser to help provide crop nutrition, and that in itself is another revenue stream,” he stated.

 

“Renewable energy generation will help the farms to be more efficient because we have to be very competitive and efficient in what we do. And if it is possible to feed the excess energy into the grid, businesses can become more viable. The more revenue sources a farm business can have, the more competitive will be its price, because it can offset the costs by having other revenue sources.”

 

Paul said that it is therefore important that those interested in expanding their operations in this direction have access to the necessary finances to do so. As such, he said that where Government programmes exist for this purpose, public education programmes will need to be conducted as a matter of urgency to raise awareness about the availability of the funds and criteria that must be met. 

 

“I understand that the Smart Energy Fund, they have a line of financing which helps persons to invest in this area and the Central Bank has a similar facility; what I think we need to do is educate people about the lines of financing that are available if we want to see uptake increase,” he said.

 

Additionally, he suggested that commercial banks and other financial institutions must also get on board, if a strong alternative energy sector is to be created. 

 

“The banks have not been very supportive of new investment projects or new technology projects as they need to be and maybe we can have a discussion with the banks that would encourage them to do this. There is nothing wrong with leveraging funds – suppose Government has provided $10 million to the Fund, why can’t we have a financial sector that says we are prepared to match those funds?” Paul added. (JRT)

 

Source: http://www.barbadosadvocate.com/newsitem.asp?more=local&NewsID=34091



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