Waiting on law


Barbadian entrepreneur Ralph Bizzy Williams is keen to construct “a really large” plant harnessing the sun’s energy to produce electricity.

But the absence of the necessary legislation and regulations permitting the power generated to be fed into the national grid via the Barbados Light & Power remains the major hindrance.

The chairman of Williams Industries Inc., who is also pushing for “electric vehicles” to be imported and used here, expressed his disappointment with the status quo during a presentation at the Institute of Chartered Accounts of Barbados’ 19th annual conference, held today at Hilton Barbados.

“The bottom line right now is that we have no regulations in Barbados that state and specify how much you are going to be paid for electricity generated by photovoltaics or any alternative source of energy,” he said.

“I have been told by several ministers of Government that the legislation is about to be passed … and we hope it’s going to be passed very soon, but right now the reason why Williams Industires could rush ahead and install the biggest photovoltaic systems in the Eastern Caribbean by far is because our factories can use the power.

“What I would like to be able to do would be to go in a greenfield site and build a really large photovoltaic generating station, but you can’t do that because we can’t finance that unless the regulations are in place that state how much you are going to be paid for electricity over a long period of time,” he noted.

Williams saidbuilding the plant he had in mind would not necessitate more infrastructure, including power lines, since he believed “that the right way to do it is to transmit the power via the national grid to wherever you want it to and if it’s the Light & Power that buys all and sells all that’s fine in my opinion”.

“Photovoltaics generate electricity at direct current, you have to pass them through an inverter or inverters to convert the electricity into alternating current and then they are synchronised with the national grid,” he pointed out.

“So what we need is legislation which permits independent power producers to feed power into the national grid and transmit it along the existing power lines to customers at different points in the island.

“This is called wielding of power. Wielding power is what we need to be able to do in Barbados and then we could build … out in St. Thomas or St. Philip on land that is not producing anything now and generate electricity from there and transmit it.”

Williams also said that while the overseas manufacturers of the electric vehicles he wanted to bring into Barbados were hesitant to agree to the arrangement, he intended to sustain his quest to have them on Barbadian soil. “There is absolutely no reason why Barbados could not shift almost entirely to electric vehicles, whose batteries would be charged by the sun. I am a firm believer that this could happen; it is happening in Denmark, it is happening in Israel … and Australia has just signed on as well,” he stated.

“Right now we are trying our best to persuade the company that is producing the switchable battery vehicles and they will not ship us the vehicles because they don’t believe that we are able to maintain them at this stage.

“So that is a little fight that we are going to get involved in because I am sure that we can maintain them and I believe that that is really the future because apart from producing electricity to power what we use it for now there is a tremendous amount of savings to be had if we can power our transportation by the sun.” (SC)

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