Change to solar power will be more expensive
If Barbadians want reliable solar power across the island they must be prepared to first pay more for electricity, according to Central Bank Governor Dr Delisle Worrell.
Delivering what he described as “a layman’s observations” to a Barbados Renewable Energy Association seminar last evening, Worrell spoke of a future with a solar power generating system for the entire island that could halve the $1 billion annual fuel import bill.
He said obtaining a suitable grid for safe and efficient distribution of solar energy across the island was the biggest obstacle to his vision of a green Barbados.
And he warned that because the present electricity distribution infrastructure has to change to suit the requirements for solar energy transmission, the path to cheaper and greener energy consumption would be costly and Barbadians must be prepared to foot the bill in the initial stages.
“The grid that would be required for solar generation across the country would need to be a low-powered one across the entire system and would have to have a smart computer brain to help it manage daily fluctuations in generation,” he said.
“The design testing and implementation of such a grid would be a very major undertaking and it would have to be planned and implemented over several years. Finance would have to be secured and the cost of servicing funds raised to remake the distribution grid would require an increase in electricity supply cost in the near term.
“In order to realize our real potential for green energy, it seems to me that Barbados must make strategic decisions with respect to the cost of reengineering the grid.”
Elaborating on this concept “that could be the future of energy in Barbados”, Worrell spoke of a system generating electricity by solar power for the most part and having only a small off-peak traditional power generation plant, with surplus solar power being stored during hours of sunshine for use in darkness.
He acknowledged that Barbadians have been for years converting energy from the sun for water heating, but said there was much more potential.
“That is trifling compared to the potential for near self-sufficiency . . . ,” Worrell said.
“Fuel imports are in the range of $1 billion every year, or about one-third of everything we import. Converting fully to solar generation would probably cut that bill in half, or even lower.
“An island-wide solar powered grid would create a sufficient demand for energy products and services to be the foundation of industry with potential for hundreds of jobs,” he added.