Sunday, April 8, 2012

Choking on Rising Fuel Costs for Electricity, Barbados Launches Multiple Source-Multiple Use Renewable Energy Plan

Another sign of the rapidly changing (for the better) energy landscape: the southeastern Caribbean island nation of Barbados is taking an integrated, multiple source-multiple use approach as it launches a program to shift away from its almost total reliance on imported fossil fuel imports to clean, homegrown renewable sources for electricity generation and other uses.

The Barbadian cabinet on April 5 approved the US$188.5 million Mangrove Pond Green Energy Complex, according to a Caribbean Journal report. The complex is to include solar power and wind power facilities, a new Mechanical Maintenance Facility, a Waste-to-Energy Facility, and a Landfill Gas Management System.

In total, the Barbadian government expects the Mangrove Pond Green Energy Complex to produce more than 25 MW of clean electrical power that can be sold on to the island nation’s grid, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Barbados relies almost entirely (96%) on fuel oil and diesel to generate electricity; 90% of it imported. That’s comparable to what the island nation spends on education. Barbados’s bill for oil imports in 2009 and 2010 totaled some $230 million, which amounts to nearly 6% of national GDP, about what it spends on education, Senator Darcy Boyce was quoted as saying in a Barbados Today article.

Barbados’s Sustainable Energy Framework

The government intends to reduce Barbados’s oil import bill significantly, Boyce, who heads the Prime Minister’s Energy Office, told attendees gathered for the launch of the Energy Efficiency Awareness Programme of the Sustainable Energy Framework for Barbados Pilot Project.

The aim of the Sustainable Energy Framework for Barbados Pilot Project is to reduce fossil fuel use by some 30% by bringing renewable energy resources online, and to reduce electricity demand by over 21% by implementing energy efficiency measures and technologies over a 20-year period. TheInter-American Development Bank (IADB) is contributing $1 million in investment grants and loans through the World Bank Group’s Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Rising global market prices for crude oil and derivatives have been rising consistently for several years, putting greater financial pressure on local businesses and residents alike. The direct effect rising fuel costs have on ratepayers’ pocketbooks and businesses’ operating budgets is compounded by the indirect effects, as they flow through into prices of all imports and are passed on to consumers. More