Barbados is quickly becoming a leader in renewable energy. A former English colony, Barbados is a small island in the Caribbean known for its scenic beaches and tropical ecosystem. Natural disasters in the past and the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the need for a more diverse economy in Barbados. Renewable energy is a promising solution moving forward. Barbados is investing in renewable energy to reduce poverty and ensure sustainability.
4 Facts About Renewable Energy in Barbados
- Investing in the Future – Barbados may be a small island but it has taken large steps to transition to renewable energy. By 2030, Barbados plans to have 100% of its energy consumption come from renewable sources. Although this goal may be ambitious, Barbados put its words into action by securing loans, including a $30 million loan in 2019 from the Inter-American Development Bank. The focus is on building solar photovoltaics for both residential and commercial purposes. Barbados is also interested in growing wind, waste, biomass and ocean and wave energy in order to modernize its energy grid while cutting costs for energy imports and creating jobs.
- Geographic Advantages for Wind and Solar Energy – The political feasibility of renewable energy in Barbados is unique because it does not have large petroleum reserves that would cause competing interests. This is a problem that is characteristic of countries in other regions such as North America and the Middle East. The tropical climate in Barbados makes it ideal for wind and solar energy. Barbados averages 8.3 hours of sunshine per day and 5.6 kilowatts of solar irradiation per square meter. Additionally, the annual wind speed averages 5.5 meters per second. These averages make Barbados well-positioned to utilize wind and solar energy compared to the rest of the world. Barbados also has the ability to use the ocean not only for energy produced by water but for installing offshore wind turbines. The ocean provides stronger wind regimes. Since there is very little space to build large wind turbines onshore, this feature will become increasingly valuable.
- Renewable Energy Cuts Costs – Barbados experiences very high electricity costs due to its reliance on crude oil. The high electricity bills for an individual household or business and the economic burden of purchasing oil from other countries caused the need to transition to renewable energy. Fuel reflects an average of 15% of its import costs and about half of this is used just for generating electricity. Cutting down the cost of fossil fuel spending and having a more sustainable and efficient energy source would cut costs for citizens and improve the overall economy.
- Economic Vulnerability – Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy of Barbados has suffered a major setback. With 40% of its GDP and 30% of the workforce in the tourism industry, many are without an income. About 90% of the industry, including hotels, had to close or reduce their normal operating levels because of the pandemic. In addition, Barbados has a hurricane season every year. Hurricanes damage infrastructure, harm the health of beaches and prevent tourists from coming to the island. Hurricane Dorian cost the country an estimated $3.4 billion or a quarter of its GDP when it hit the island in 2019. In the United States and around the world, renewable energy jobs are some of the fastest-growing occupations. Barbados would greatly benefit from being a part of the trend.
Barbados is planning ahead for its future and moving forward with renewable energy to ensure economic stability and lessen the effects of natural disasters. The country stands as a strong model for other nations in approaching renewable energy and preparing for the future.
– Stephen Illes