After a successful Renewable Energy Rider pilot programme, plans are in place to significantly increase the existing eight to nine megawatts produced by the end of the year.

This update was given by Managing Director Designate Barbados Light & Power Co. Ltd (BL&P) Roger Blackman yesterday as he addressed the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (BCCI) luncheon, where he outlined some of the companies’ immediate plans for renewable energy.

According to Blackman, “We already have closer to nine MW of customer owned systems on the network… plans are in place for an additional 20 MW by the end of 2015. So we would have had seven or eight in the last three years and you are talking about tripling it by the end of the year. That is a signal of what is taking place in the advances of technology and the reductions in cost to make these technologies economically competitive.”

He further noted that by early 2016, this will move to 30 MW and 40 MW by late 2016. “So that is the evolution of the renewable energy rider system,” he said.

Blackman told the audience at Hilton Barbados that the island can be the e-showcase for the world, adding that with the strides being made within the sector and with rapid technological advancements, 100 per cent renewable energy could be a reality within the next two to three decades.

“You have heard positive stories, Germany and other places in the world have done things and gone ahead of us, but we do have an opportunity to do what is unlikely they would do in the same time frame that we can achieve here. Germany [reached] 30 per cent. I think we can do better here.”

“We were pioneers in the solar water heating sector and [we] were leaders at one point, in times of the penetration of solar water heaters. We have the potential again to set an example and showcase a successful reliable transition to 100 per cent clean energy.”

Blackman also stated that this could also be a niche [area] from a tourism standpoint. “We can really transform our tourism product. Electric transportation… plug-in cruise ships. [In parts] of the world cruise ships when they dock are not allowed to run their engines because of the impact that emissions have on the environment, so there is a unique opportunity to provide a lower cost solution that cruise ships will embrace and provide them with power when they are in port.”

Blackman said with transformational change in the electric utilities sector there is a greater level competition to be expected.

“We see a future where there are multiple players competing in an area where we have enjoyed dominant positioning for many years. So what you have been hearing about, in terms of the press in terms of our restructuring exercises, is a means essentially of ensuring our efficiency so that we can continue to provide a level of reliability and a quality of service Barbadians have come to expect from BL&P.”

“We can’t ignore these trends and technologies, we have to adapt. It means becoming a smaller, more nimble utility but that is required to provide that type of service that Barbadians deserve and we strive to provide,” he said.

Excerpts from : Barbados Advocate