by Jerry Franklin
Barbados has the opportunity to become a pioneer in renewable energy systems deployment, and an innovator in renewable energy public policy and regulatory framework development.
The move to 100 per cent renewable energy has now become a serious and credible aspiration for all developed countries.
Germany has led this discussion for a while but there is now a plan for the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Netherlands, a number of states in United States like California, and now France is joining this group.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has prepared a road map to 100 per cent renewable energy capability for Europe and North Africa, and there is even a plan being developed for the whole world.
All of these plans identify the primary renewable energy source to be the sun and the wind.
The fact that PwC has developed a plan should tell you this is not a technical challenge.
It is the policy, regulatory and social evolution challenges that are the hardest to address for this vision to become a reality.
Small nation states are likely to have a distinct advantage over larger nations in this regard, because our populations and economies are smaller and therefore there should be less social inertia to overcome to achieve the social engineering of a new national energy culture.
It is for this reason I believe we have a real chance to put Barbados on the map and create new opportunities to export our renewable energy expertise/experience and develop a new tourism market – the “100 per cent green tourism” market.
Moving to renewable energy has many benefits for evening the biggest economies that are oil-rich.
Mitigating the environmental impact of fossil fuels is a major driver for renewable energy in most developed countries.
The Global 100 per cent Renewables is an organisation that has taken up the mandate of driving 100 per cent renewables across the globe. They have cited the reason for this as: “By burning and depleting the world’s natural resources, the conventional energy system has led to multiple convergent existential crises, including climate change, air and water pollution, destruction of the oceans, the threat of mass extinction, water and food shortages, poverty, nuclear radiation problems, poverty, nuclear radiation problems, nuclear weapons proliferation, fuel decline, and geopolitical tension.”
Their position on a number of these topics is aligned with my own views. The World Future Counsil has cited five areas that should be included in a policy to move to 100 per cent in their Policy Handbook – How To Achieve 100 Per Cent Renewable Energy.
These are making energy efficiency a top priority, electrifying the heating/cooling and transport sectors, maximising opportunities for citizen participation and the development of new business models, educating and informing citizens and businesses, and adopting an integrated approach to fiscal, economic and energy policy
Most of these plans have set 2050 as the year to achieve this vision. We in Barbados are in position to do it a lot sooner but we have put this plan in motion now.
The Government has for the most part started programmes to touch on all these areas, however, the policy and regulatory framework to create the environment for the 100 per cent renewables agenda to move forward has not been implemented.
Why are we waiting? I believe we are waiting to see what other countries do.
We don’t see the value in being a leader on this yet although we are in position to do so. Currently Hawaii is one of the world leaders on this.
Everyone is looking at Hawaii to see what works and what doesn’t. Hawaii has now made a bold step and legislated its intentions to reach 100 per cent renewable energy by 2045.
I believe we have learnt enough from Hawaii on the impact on the grid at different penetration levels to chart our own path and accelerate our progress.
Let the world visit Barbados to see 100 per cent electrified transportation.
MegaPower has done an incredible job of pushing the electrified transportation on their own without the enabling policies in place and there are now more than 50 electric vehicles in Barbados with charging stations all around the island. Let the world visit Barbados to see an environment with no pollution caused by the generation of power.
I am sure many people would come here to see what environmental, cultural and social benefits could accrue in a country with 100 per cent electrified transportation.
This is not even considering the enormous economic benefits from the reduced cost of renewable energy power.
We have had a reputation as a small country that punches above its weight. We have had the reputation of being leaders in education and health care policy, we were also seen as leaders in solar water heating.
To turn Barbados around and achieve greatness again will require a change from “business as usual”.
We have to be bold and agile. I believe we have a perfect opportunity to be a leader again.
Moving to 100 per cent renewables is a critical step to our economic recovery, so it needs to be given the same level of importance and priority as any other economic strategy the Government is contemplating.
Jerry Franklin is managing director of EnSmart Inc. Franklin is an engineer, energy auditor, equipment tester, and energy solutions provider.