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Exploring ocean power

Dr. David Estwick

The Barbados Government is exploring the possibility of using the power of the ocean to generate electricty.

Minister of Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, informed a news conference at his Graeme Hall office this afternoon, that he was heading off to Japan tonight to look at similar projects there.

Estwick said while the Government was pushing the green economy concept of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, tapping the potential of the ocean, known as the blue economy, was worth pursuing.

He observed that this country’s ocean resources were significantly greater than its land resources.

“As a result of that, we have been exploring for some time since the last energy conference that was held here at the Hilton about six months ago, where the Minister of Energy, Darcy Boyce, would have met with a contingent from Japan regarding an evaluation and doing a study tour of an ocean technology to produce electricity and to produce desalination water as well as aquaculture known as ocean thermal energy conversion,” announced the minister.

He explained that because of the new oil crisis and the potential for sustainable increases in fossil fuel costs, the technology was now back on the front burner. As a result, he continued, Bahamas was now constructing two new OTEC plants to produce the electricity that they want from the ocean.

“Can you imagine if you can produce electricity from the ocean what it would mean to Barbados not to import fossil fuel ever again. Can Barbadians imagine what that would mean. And the cost of producing electricity from the ocean is comparable to coal in the United States, which is eight cents per kilowatt hour,” Estwick declared.

The Cabinet minister observed that Barbados now paid 90 cents per kilowatt hour.

“You understand if we could get this technology in Barbados. So, in addition to the cost of electricity, the process produces desalinated water. We would have enough water to service all over this country with the greatest of ease,” he asserted.

“It is for that reason that I am going to see several plants in operation and I am going there with the acting general manager; he’s the manager of engineering at the Barbados Water Authority.”

He also disclosed that Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands and some other countries were constructing OPEC facilities.

“We don’t want to be left behind in relation to this new technology so that we can get our electricity bill down. In relation to the Barbados Water Authority, right now we are paying something like $30 million per year in electricity costs. Can you imagine that six years ago, the electricity costs to the Barbados Water Authority was $21 million?” he asked.

“Now how can any company absorb an increase of six or seven million dollars in electricity costs in a matter of two, three years. We can’t pass it on to the consumers.”

Estwick told reporters that one of the things he wanted to do in going to Japan to examine the process, was to find a way where Government could give concessionary rates to the development interests in Barbados. He said that, for example, manufacturers and farmers should be paying a developmental water rate.

“But I cannot do it at this stage, unless I can have an abundance of water at such volumes, where we can pass on those significant savings on the production side to the people of Barbados. That is why I am going to Japan and spending a week plus on the study tour to the Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion study facilities,” announced Estwick. (EJ)

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