Barbados could double the size of the economy – measured as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – by exploiting renewable energy, former Governor of the Central Bank Dr Delisle Worrell has said.
In his latest monthly newsletter, Dr Worrell has urged Government to formulate a national strategy on how it will achieve its goal of 100 per cent reliance on renewable energies. The administration has set 2030 for conversion to a fully green energy economy.
The economist suggested Barbados’ location placed the island in a prime position to take advantage of wind and solar power
He said: “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 per cent renewables, around which it should build a national consensus in favour of a strategy to achieve this 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.”
Technical studies by leading experts had shown that Barbados could supply all of its current power needs with a combination of solar, wind and biogas sources with an eco-friendly power storage system, the former central banker said.
Over the course of the next 15 years the necessary technical, regulatory and financial framework would have to be put in place to achieve 100 per cent renewables, he suggested.
And with the economy still underperforming, a move to renewable energy could give it the boost it so badly needs, argues Dr Worrell in his September economic letter.
“The Barbados economy, which currently remains in the doldrums, could be revived to growth rates of five per cent or more, with the implementation of a comprehensive action plan for 100 percent renewables, provided the island’s competitive weaknesses are addressed.
“With a five percent growth rate, our GDP would double in about 15 years and future prosperity would be assured.”
He repeated a call for public sector reform, saying it would serve to restore and enhance Barbados’ international competitiveness and attract new investment in tourism, international business and other quality products.
Dr Worrell said: “That alone should provide growth of around two and a half per cent.
“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 three per cent or more to the growth rate, for an overall rate in excess of five per cent.”
He further pointed out that the switch to renewables would also make the country’s economy more resilient, noting that the country’s energy supply would be unaffected by losses in any of the three main sources of foreign exchange – tourism, international services and manufacturing.
“Furthermore, the growth of our economy and our rate of inflation would become impervious to oil price fluctuations,” he added. (RB)