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Solar energy to cut bills

Ricky Jordan

Solar energy to cut bills

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A LOCALLY-BASED Caribbean company is offering to feed electricity into the national grid, almost immediately lowering household electricity bills, and saving Barbados millions of dollars in the long term.
Solaris Global Energy Ltd, which has been on the solar water heating market for the last three decades, yesterday offered its plan to Government at the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF) at Hilton Barbados, with general manager David Rowe suggesting the installation of photovoltaic (PV) solar systems on 20 000 homes.
“The plan is that over ten years, 20 000 house owners will provide PV solar electricity to the Barbados Light & Power grid through PV systems installed on their roofs [by Solaris],” said Rowe, adding that the project, dubbed Sun Stream, would have to be on roofs where the PV panels faced the south or west and were free of shade.
According to Rowe, while all of the solar power feeds into each house, thereby satisfying the energy needs of each household, energy would be simultaneously feeding into the national grid.
As a result, an average homeowner using 13 kilowatts per hour with an average BL&P bill of $280 per month would automatically get a new BL&P bill of $246.40 – about 12 per cent less. And, Rowe added, if a homeowner defaulted on payment, the energy supplied to the house could be suspended while, at the same time, that energy would still be feeding into the grid.
“This is a win-win. If I can get the firms on board to help me with the funding for it, or if a bank – each system averages between $20 000 and $40 000 – is going to lend $30 000, they’re going to ask how can they be sure they will be repaid.
“What is going to happen is if a house owner quits the system, loses his job or any worst-case scenario, and the power system to the house has to be cut off because of non-payment, there is still solar power coming through the roof to the grid, so that bank is guaranteed to be repaid every month by the BL&P,” Rowe explained.
He added that, with 20 000 homes fitted with grid-tied PV systems, it would be a $100 million saving every year for Barbados and $1.03 billion over ten years.
“I have [also] spoken to the Light & Power and their heavy usage is in the day time [when the PV systems draw most of its energy fron the sun]. The use by householders at night is much less than what the companies, firms and manufacturers use in the day, so the bulk goes into the factories . . .  .
“So I’d be feeding power, good, clean solar power to the grid when it needs it most,” added Rowe, noting that it would also accrue savings on foreign exchange and accumulate carbon credit.
Solaris, formerly known as Aqua Sol, is a Trinidad-Barbados owned company.