Reproduced with permission, the full text of Dr. Delisle Worrell – former Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados – September 2019 newsletter:
Wind and solar power offer an exciting prospect of rapid growth and energy independence to a sunny island like Barbados, set out in the Atlantic in the path of the dependable trade winds. However, a focused, all-encompassing national strategy is required, if we are to have any chance of realizing the vision of energy independence. Our Government should provide a road map to take us to the goal of 100 percent renewables, around which it should build a national consensus in favour of a strategy to achieve this goal. The road map would spell out the benefits of energy independence, and the main structures and systems that would have to be put in place to make the dream a reality. Once there is nationwide agreement on the goal and the things needed to achieve it, an action plan and timetable would be needed to monitor and report to the nation on progress towards the goal.
Thanks to recent improvements in the efficiency and affordability of solar and wind energy generation, Barbados now has the potential to double its GDP in less than two decades. Barbados’ abundant sunshine and reliable trade winds have become a more valuable resource than reserves of oil and gas could ever be. As the late Professor Oliver Headley once famously said: “The sun will still be shining when the oil runs out”. Technical studies by leading experts in the field show how Barbados can supply all of its current power needs with a combination of solar, wind and biogas, with an eco-friendly power storage system. A great deal of solar has already been installed and we have an idea where wind turbines might best be sited. We also have a report on the elements, technical, regulatory and financial, that would have to be sustained over a period of 15 years, to achieve 100 percent renewables.
The Barbados economy, which currently remains in the doldrums, could be revived to growth rates of 5 percent or more, with the implementation of a comprehensive action plan for 100 percent renewables, provided the island’s competitive weaknesses are addressed. With a 5 percent growth rate, our GDP would double in about 15 years and future prosperity would be assured. As I have said elsewhere, the reform of the public sector would serve to restore and enhance Barbados’ international competitiveness and attract new investment in tourism, international business and other quality products. That alone should provide growth of around 2 1/2 percent. The switch from fossil fuels to renewable sources of power adds to growth directly through investment in renewables and the acquisition of new skills and services. In addition, the savings from reduction in fuel imports increase every year, until the entire amount now spent on fuel is available for expansion of other activities. Investment in renewables plus foreign exchange savings could together add 3 percent or more to the growth rate, for an overall rate in excess of 5 percent.
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