Energy Minister Darcy Boyce says once the island’s natural gas infrastructure is upgraded, the operation costs for the Barbados National Oil Company and the National Petroleum Corporation should be reduced.
Boyce was speaking on Monday at the official launch of the multi-million dollar Deployment of Cleaner Fuels and Renewable Energies programme.
The project, which is being funded through a US$34 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is intended to enhance the country’s energy security and sustainability by diversifying the energy mix through the promotion of renewable energy sources, as well as the modernization and expansion of the natural gas infrastructure.
The Energy Minister says the the programme is part of the island’s thrust towards becoming one of the greenest economies in the Western Hemisphere.
“Further, the project gets the national oil company into becoming a major producer of renewable energy, either by wind or solar, or both,” Boyce said.
The project has three components, the first of which will cost just over US$25 million, and involves the expansion and upgrade of the natural gas infrastructure.
The second component will cost US$3.35 million and will see the installation of photovoltaic systems, as well as energy efficient systems in administrative buildings, while the third component, costing US$4.05 million, will consist of technical advisory services, including the training of staff, as well as various studies.
The remaining US$1.6 million will be spent on evaluation , as well as management and monitoring efforts.
IDB Country Representative for Barbados Juan Carlos De La Hoz Viñas said just over 2,000 residents, seven businesses and two industrial customers are scheduled to be added to the natural gas grid, and, ultimately, the island’s entire 126,000 electricity users will benefit.
Boyce also announced a plan to approach the IDB for a larger loan, to expand an approximately US$5 million Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) pilot energy efficiency project.
“In all these things that we are doing, it is not just a case of Government just borrowing the money and having to find taxes to pay for it . . . . My view is that we can do all this renewable energy and energy efficiency work and let it pay for itself,” he said.