Energy death knell sounds

GUESTXCOLUMNIs it time to save the emerging solar photovoltaic sector?

For at least one small electronics company, which has invested thousands of man-hours and dollars, this appears to be the case.

Barbadians have a culture of criticism, but come up very short when identifying solutions and taking the decisions to resolve their challenges.

So we can blame falling oil prices for the gloom and doom about the future of the many companies that invested in anticipation of a boon in business, employment and reducing of the country’s whopping oil import bill and the attendant drain on foreign exchange.

We can blame politicians on both sides of the fence for not understanding and coming together to create a road map, a policy based not only officially stated goals but inclusive of the regulatory and fiscal support.

We can also blame the industry for not forking out the dollars and advocating the changes needed under the renewable energy sector.

As the late Professor Rex Nettleford would say in his lectures, there is the need to see the forest from the trees. In other words, there is a need to understand that we are dealing with a critical industry and changes have to be made now if it is to survive.

Can we afford those companies that have workers going idle in the solar photovoltaic business to open shoe stores and close their doors, along with the investment, and hopefully when oil prices rise and Barbadians become scared about the implications for their financial well-being that they get back into the business?

The emerging or dying renewable energy sector must not only be presented with talk but with action. This is critical to the island’s economic development. It is not
just about putting panels on a roof and saving some money from Barbados & Light and Power (BL&P).

The rate structure under the Renewable Energy Rider has served a purpose, but it is no longer valid if the emerging sector is to survive.

The simple fact is businesses have to make money for them to be feasible and for the society at large to benefit.
It is not only Barbados Light & Power, rate of return concerns and stability of the electricity grid that matter.

If the industry is allowed to die, then when the oil industry sorts out its political and economic issues, the Barbadian economy, which has grown sluggishly, thanks to low oil prices, will see its foreign exchange bill soar, and the jobs to be made in a fledgling sector would have dried up.

Perhaps this is why Ralph “Bizzy” Williams’ wake-up call to Barbados is one of national concern and not a self-serving rant.

It is not time to cast a net of blame.

Maybe it is time to cast a net to changing the Renewable Energy Rider and a rate structure for photovoltaic business which continues to be based on a fossil fuel agenda that is no longer relevant.

Perhaps it is time to save the renewable energy sector.

(Hallam Hope is a long-standing student of regulatory policy.


2 Responses to Energy death knell sounds

  1. Mac10 February 4, 2016 at 10:15 am

    What it boils down to is the fact that the government & it’s buddies don’t want a renewable/solar energy producing country as they would lose too much money to line their pockets with.

    The waste to energy plant is dependant on the government not having a renewable energy industry that would make it obsolete before it gets built. This is borne out by the destruction of the recycling industry & the tipping fee to discourage recycling & the effective disposal of waste in this country.

    Every country in the world is moving away from fossil fuels as they are a major cause of Climate Change. Barbados would rather hold with imported oil at $700million per year than go energy independent with solar/wind etc as it continues the gravy train for them.

    If the government was serious about renewable energy they would fully invest in solar etc, remove the duty on importing electric & hybrid vehicles & legislate that all new build properties must generate 50% of their power needs from renewables.

    One has to ask why this continues not to happen.

  2. jrsmith February 4, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Barbados , have a couple of decades start on most countries / islands in the world , when it comes to solar energy.. we are loosing that head start , what would be the best for Barbados is to find the right corporate , interested in Barbados as a manufacturing base.. other than that the island cannot sustain a level of units deployment to be profitable….

    The issue of , renewable energy, is for the corporates and Barbados is the island ,the corporates have in they sights, we need to find the type of management to engage as to , the economical benefits to Barbados, to the projects…

    There is a lot of this renewable farce , being played out around the world, in the UK, some corporates has drop the idea of wind farms , be many of the wind farm projects wasn’t profitable, even the british government has drop many solar panel schemes…

    Our aim , to survive , must be ,jobs, jobs, jobs


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