The main focal points on the agenda for the Barbados Power Summit which was held on April 16th -17th were; utilizing local renewable energy sources, efficiently managing oil use and implementing clean energy practices. Present during the conference were regional utilities, government representatives and energy representatives from the Caribbean who discussed potential development for renewable energy integration into the regional energy markets along with its associated challenges.Over the two day summit, several barriers to renewable energy development in small countries like Anguilla and Bermuda were raised including the difficulty in acc
essing technical funding and support from Muli-laterals working in the region due to their small size as well as limited governmental capacity to support the development and implementation of new energy policies.
Other presentations highlighted the importance of a strong and well defined regulatory environment which would effectively provide a solid foundation for renewable energy integration and growth in the region. The importance of finance and different financial approaches to fund renewable energy initiatives were also discussed at length during the conference. This financial impetus plays a crucial role in getting renewable energy initiatives off the ground in the Caribbean. An example of this financial importance is through the assistance being provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to the Barbados government in providing incentives to homeowners and commercial entities for the use of alternative energy. Review of Barbados’ Economic Performance for the First Quarter of 2012
The Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) sponsored project in Anguilla generated great interest and discussion throughout the length of the summit. This project is aimed at providing international expertise on advising the government of Anguilla on improving its legal and regulatory framework to facilitate integration of renewable energy into the islands’ existing energy structure. This project can and will serve as an example to other Caribbean islands as to how the regulatory framework and energy policies must be altered to effectively allow alternative energy generation and grid tie. This project also highlights the importance of open and frequent discussion of key stakeholders such as government, utilities, private sector and the civil society in shaping and successfully augmenting renewable energy into any island’s existing energy structure.
An address given by Steven Worme, Chief Operating Officer of the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited stressed the importance of net billing for small closed grids in the Caribbean based on avoided generation cost to the utility over net metering which is a more volatile structure and places the burden of pioneering renewable energy primarily on fragmented consumers. Often times it is difficult for individuals to negotiate with large institutions to recover their net metering credits or rebates. In addition some countries are reluctant to adopt the net metering principle because of the complication in paying and refunding the Value Added Tax payable on electricity. Mr Worme illustrated in his presentation the set up of the Standard Offer Contract in the purchasing of distributed generation in Barbados. He showed that payment at avoided cost for solar PV generation at peak daylight hours with distributed generators purchasing retail electricity at off-peak hours and at off peak rates, provides a win-win savings for both the distributed generator as well as the utility.
With the advent of renewable energy being increasingly talked about on the Caribbean stage, the general public may be left to ask the following questions:
- How does the government of Barbados and other regional governments easily provide incentives and encouragement for homeowners and commercial entities to make use of renewable energy? How does this impact the country’s existing tax structure?
- What kind of financial structure must be set up to provide loans to assist the small business man in undertaking alternative energy ventures?
- What major infrastructure changes will be required to the grid to handle increased distributed generation back into the grid?