The Freundel Stuart administration has entered another phase of its Public Sector Smart Energy Programme (PSSEP), hoping to save the country between $32 million and $42 million over the next 20 to 25 years on its electricity bill.
Government and electrical installations company Solar Watt Systems Inc today signed a deal worth $5.5 million for the installation of photovoltaic (PV) systems on 13 Government buildings.
The total cost of the PSSEP project, which is designed to promote the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the public sector, is US$24.664 million – US$17 million of which is in the form of a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank and a US$7.664 million grant from the European Commission.
The components of the project, which began in 2013 and is scheduled to be completed next year, include the retrofitting of public buildings, an ocean energy study, capacity building, the changing of street lights and procurement of electric vehicles.
Part one of the project is the changing of close to 30,000 street lights across the country. That contract went to the Barbados Light & Power Company in June when Government and the electricity company paved the way for the project to start by signing a memorandum of understanding.
Government is hoping to shave $2 million to $3 million a year off the country’s electricity bill as a result of the entire project.
Giving details of the PV retrofitting phase of the project this morning at Government headquarters, Managing Director of Solar Watt Joshua Hunte said each PV system would be 2.5 megawatts, producing approximately 105 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity.
He said it was estimated to save Government approximately $42 million over the estimated 25-year lifecycle of the systems.
“There will be 172,000 [fewer] barrels of oil being imported to Barbados because of this project. This project will produce every year, approximately enough electricity for 10,000 homes. The PV installation also saves critical foreign exchange; not initially, but over the lifetime it will save critical foreign exchange which is very important in these days,” said Hunte.
Addressing this morning’s signing ceremony, Minister with responsibility for Energy Senator Darcy Boyce said Government was keen to reduce its dependency on fossil fuel imports in an effort to save foreign exchange.
Noting that the public sector was one of the island’s largest users of energy, Boyce said up to 2008, Government, inclusive of statutory corporations and agencies, was spending approximately $100 million per year in electricity.
He could not say what that figure is now, but said it had indeed decreased.
“That has driven us into this programme to continue to bring down our electricity cost,” Boyce said.
Head of Delegation for the European Commission Daniela Tramacere welcomed the initiative, saying Barbados had made “amazing steps forward”, but it was simply not enough.
“Now is really the moment to keep the pace and I would say we are in a very critical stage,” Tramacere said.
“The rest of the world has embraced the transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency and there is no reason why Barbados and the Caribbean should be falling [behind]. You have meaningful targets now and we want to support you in achieving those,” she said.