BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- “Electric utilities are aware of the need to adapt to the realities of today’s environment, as well as to chart the course for the future,” said chairman of CARILEC, Thornley Myers during the opening ceremony of the 2013 Renewable Energy Forum in Barbados.
Myers was addressing over 100 delegates, including utility technical experts and their stakeholders, who have convened in Barbados from the Caribbean and around the world to discuss the latest trends in renewable energy and the way forward for the region.
He said that over the past four years the cost of solar PV systems had fallen by approximately 40 percent. He went on to state that, beyond hydro and wind energy sources, they were also considering “biomass and the immense possibilities for geothermal.”
Managing director of the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited, Mark King, echoed the sentiments of CARILEC's chairman and revealed that the BL&P had already established power purchase agreements (PPAs) with more than 200 local independent power producers (IPPs) and that interest in the programme was growing. He described the timing of the conference as ideal, even as the region seeks approaches to challenges brought about by changes in the utility sector.
King, however, expressed concerns in relation to the drafting of local legislation for the energy sector, stating that it must take into consideration its socio-economic implications, particularly the impact it can have on future foreign direct investment decisions.
He went on to outline safety, reliability, power quality and cost-effectiveness as core principles of any transition to the use of RE sources; adding that concomitant with this effort must be actions that are targeted at reducing emissions and environmental degradation.
In his feature address, Barbados ambassador to CARICOM, Robert Morris, observed that the power sector was on the cusp of a paradigm shift toward the green economy.
The historian and seasoned trade unionist shared his vision for Caribbean people to be trained in renewable energy technology and the corresponding regulatory systems.
"In some of our countries the talent pool from which such regulators can be drawn may not be as extensive as in others. This may well lead to developing a CARICOM pool of regulators, in keeping with our current ideas about national and regional self-sufficiency... as a matter of urgency we have to train our talent pool for the region,” he said.
The conference concluded on Wednesday, following two intense days of general caucuses and breakout sessions led by renewable energy exemplars from across the globe.