BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 30, CMC – Barbados Tuesday said that its efforts towards becoming 100 per cent carbon neutral by 2030 is being hampered financing, access and supply delays.
Senior Minister and former energy minister, Kerrie Symmonds told a three-day high level international energy conference here that plans for a 85 megawatts of renewable energy have been installed on the grid since the introduction of the government's 2019 energy policy – constituting between 12 and 15 per cent of the country's electricity demand.
Symmonds said the reliability and stability of the grid need to be guaranteed through battery storage, but that attaining this storage is proving challenging.
"The reality of our experience has been that there was tremendous disappointment and, indeed, tremendous delay as a result of the fact that there is simply an unavailability due to the consolidation of production and due to the consolidation and prioritisation of sales efforts in the global north, as opposed to small island developing states predominantly to be found in the south.
"Stripped naked of all of the finesse, it means simply that though we would have wanted to be able to access battery storage as a first option, it simply was not available to us in this part of the world," Symmonds told the conference, which is being organised by the Barbados government and facilitated by the Dubai-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), through the SIDS Lighthouse initiative.
The conference is being held under the theme "Caribbean Cooperation for Fostering Energy Transition Investments and Finance".
It is being held in partnership with the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and has brought together regional government ministers, policymakers, regulators, the private sector, project developers and international financing partners.
Symmonds said that that a similar issue was encountered in 2021 when the government applied an expedited domestic license process to allow every household in Barbados to have accelerated access to a licence for renewable energy installation up to 10 kilowatts.
"But the issue was that we were told that we would have to wait on batteries at the utility level from March of 2022 to, optimistically, the third quarter of 2023. In other words, as much as you want at a public policy level to deliver, the rest of the world does not and will not accommodate that movement, and you are placed on an 18-month waiting list," he added.
The former energy minister said that the Mia Mottley government waived duties and taxes on electric vehicles and hybrids to facilitate the greening of the transportation sector, many interested persons were placed on waiting lists of up to a year to own one.
He highlighted the need for direct financing for climate change adaptation strategies, especially towards building the resilience of the electricity grid, noting the need to move the island's 1 500 kilometres of electricity wires underground.
"To move all of that underground is going to cost us billions of dollars, but there is no immediate solution for that level of investment. But for that investment not to take place leaves the country naked and exposed with respect to the visit of another hurricane," Symmonds noted.
He told the conference that the rest of the world must meet small island developing islands (SIDS) where they are, reiterating the urgent need for 50-year loans to be granted to these countries to help them build climate resilience and renewable energy projects.
Symmonds also identified the need for the fostering of cooperation in the Caribbean to speak to the state of affairs regarding "our economic and economic regulatory development" as regulators continue to struggle with limited resources, including human resource skill sets, the setting of tariffs, and the expedition of regulatory infrastructure management processes.