Republic Bank Opens Solar-Powered Branch in Barbados

Republic Bank (Barbados) has opened an eco-friendly branch at One Barbados Place, Warrens, St. Michael, Barbados. Fully powered by an ultra-modern photovoltaic system (PV), this is the only solar-powered banking facility in Barbados. Photo Courtesy of Republic Bank

(Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, Sasha Harrinanan, 8.Aug.2018) – Barbados has its first ever solar-powered banking facility – the newest branch of Republic Bank (Barbados) at One Barbados Place in Warrens, St Michael.

The branch is part of the bank’s Going Green initiative – launched in 2017, and features an ultra-modern photovoltaic system (PV) which was designed to supply solar power to the entire building. The PV system is mounted on an equally modern 28-vehicle car park, which includes two charging stations for electric cars.”

Opened to the public on July 30, Republic Bank said the branch provides customers with “the full suite of retail and premium banking services, including three Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs), one of which was specially designed to facilitate the differently abled and a drive-through ATM, as well.”

The bank said moving to an eco-friendly branch helps propel it and Barbados closer to a more holistic, environmentally and economically friendly business focus.

Republic Bank also said the branch is a reflection of its commitment to setting the standard for service excellence across the region and of its dedication to being a socially responsible member of the corporate community.

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Caribbean Plugs into Electric-Car Revolution

(Trinidad Express, Sophie Hares, 7.Aug.2018) – With her foot down to show off the acceleration of the zippy electric car, Joanna Edghill spins around the car park before plugging the vehicle into a charging point beneath rows of solar panels converting Caribbean rays into power for the grid.

In the five years since she and her husband started their company Megapower, it has sold 300 electric vehicles and set up 50 charging stations plus a handful of solar car-ports on the 21 mile-long (34 km) island of Barbados.

Read the full story here.

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LatAm’s Solar Park Turns Mexican Desert Green

(AFP, 18.Jul.2018) – Driving through the endless dunes and cacti of the Chihuahuan desert in northern Mexico, a shimmering blue field suddenly appears on the horizon — not a mirage, but the largest solar park in Latin America.

This silent stretch of sand in the state of Coahuila is the spot Italian energy giant Enel picked to build the Villanueva power plant: 2.3 million solar panels that sprawl across a sun-soaked area the size of 2,200 football fields.

When the plant reaches full capacity later this year, it will supply enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes.

It is the biggest solar project in the world outside China and India.

The panels are designed to turn in tandem with the sun, like a field of metallic sunflowers.

They are part of Mexico’s push to generate 35 per cent of its electricity from clean sources by 2024.

Mexico won plaudits from environmentalists in 2015 when it became the first emerging country to announce its emissions reduction targets for the United Nations climate accord, ambitiously vowing to halve them by 2050.

A key part of that push is a sweeping energy reform undertaken in 2013.

One of outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto’s signature initiatives, it was initially criticised by President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who will take office on December 1.

But the anti-establishment leftist has warmed to the overhaul, and analysts now say it is likely here to stay.

The reform made global headlines for reopening Mexico’s oil sector to foreign companies after 76 years of State monopoly.

A lesser-known, but perhaps ultimately more important aspect was to allow private companies, to generate and supply electricity.

Under the new law, Mexico is now holding clean-energy auctions in which private companies bid to produce and sell electricity on an open market.

“We’re very happy with the business environment and opportunities that exist in Mexico,” said Enel’s global director for renewable energy, Antonio Cammisecra.

“Since the reform, we see better market conditions and potential for a company like ours.”

CUTTING COSTS

Projects like this are also benefiting from a sharp drop in prices for solar technology in recent years.

“Photovoltaic solar energy is the fastest-growing energy in the world — and that is driving technology innovators,” said Arturo Garcia, an energy specialist at international consulting firm Deloitte.

The energy reform and price plunge are together reshaping the solar market in Mexico.

“Before the reform it was an environmental issue,” said Victor Ramirez, executive director of the National Solar Energy Association.

“Today it’s not just about the environment, it’s about economics. If solar sources are cheaper, investment is going to gravitate there.”

The new opportunities are attracting international interest.

Besides the US$650-million Villanueva project, Enel has another solar park and is building two wind farms.

Last May it pledged an additional US$97 million in investment to expand its projects in Mexico.

Spain’s Iberdrola is building two solar parks, Dutch firm Alten is building another, and British-backed Atlas Renewable Energy recently acquired yet another.

“Mexico has world-class solar resources,” said Camilo Serrano, Atlas’s general manager for Mexico.

“The potential is absolutely proven, and investors’ appetite is obvious in the auctions.”

ELECTRIC

The auctions have so far raised an estimated US$8.6 billion in investment.

Mexican Energy Minister Pedro Joaquin Coldwell recently said they would lead to the construction of 40 solar parks and 25 wind projects.

Mexico, which had nine solar parks in 2015, aims to have 68 by 2021, he added.

Three auctions have been held so far. The production price offered by electricity suppliers has dropped from US$50 per megawatt-hour to US$20.

Thanks to the programme, Mexico is now on the top 10 list of countries with the most clean energy investment, according to the Government, – which predicts the price plunge will continue at the next auction, slated for November.

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Barbados: A $3 Billion Exercise

(Barbados Today, Marlon Madden, 17.Jul.2018) – It will require an estimated $3 billion worth of investment in a diverse set of renewable energy sources if Barbados is to achieve its goal of 100 per cent renewable energy usage by 2030.

At the same time, officials are predicting that the island could reap as much as $2.5 billion in economic benefits within ten years of becoming 100 per cent dependent on renewable energy sources.

Chief Project Analyst in the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources Brian Haynes said investment was critical if Barbados was serious about achieving its vision for the sector, adding that without diversity “we are not going to make the targets that we are hoping to make”.

“This diversity needs about 545 to about 550 megawatts of power dependent on the configuration that we advance. We are talking about capital investment of between BDS$2.4 to BDS$3 billion. This level of investment is large, but it is not insurmountable because we have a certain amount of liquidity here. We also need to be able to unlock that liquidity to get that investment happening,” Haynes told the opening of a high level round table meeting on the renewable energy industry at the 3W’s Pavilion at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus on Monday.

“With that investment the expectation is, and we are talking about ten years in the future and beyond, BDS$2 billion to BDS$2.5 billion [annually on average] in terms of economic profit. That takes into consideration not only what is done with the firms and businesses and households, but it also the indirect – so those persons who are working and investing [in the sector],” Haynes explained.

A 100 per cent renewable energy policy means that the country would move from its current 944 gigawatt hours (GWH) per year usage to between 2,000 and 2,400 GWH/year.

Data showed that between 2006 and 2015 Barbados was importing an estimated 11,654 barrels of oils per day to meet its needs.

The rate of solar photovoltaic electricity going to the national grid slowed considerably in 2017 to reach a mere 0.01 per cent, after a spike in 2013 when oil prices reached an all-time low of about US$30 a barrel.

Up to the end of 2017, only 3.8 per cent of electricity or 27 megawatts came from solar photovoltaic systems.

Haynes explained that a lack of implementation, a lack of adequate financing and human resources, low technical capacity and low pricing certainty had led to low investor confidence over the years, which had hampered the expansion of the renewable energy efforts.

He said in order to achieve the island’s energy goal a multipronged approach was necessary, which would tackle energy for cooling, lighting, transportation as well as energy efficiency.

“We cannot only look at the 900 plus gigawatt hours we are currently consuming, but we have to speak about what is happening on the road. The transportation sector accounts for between 37 and 40 per cent of our fuel consumption and we have to address that,” insisted Haynes.

Executive Director of the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) Meshia Clarke said she believed the recovery of the ailing Barbados economy depended heavily on the renewable energy sector.

She insisted that as Government embarked on its mission critical action plan to address Barbados’ balance of payment challenges, the renewable energy sector should be given priority.

“What is needed more urgently now than ever is the recognition that the country’s economic recovery must be aligned to an overall strategy [that addresses] economic growth and curtails our foreign debt,” said Clarke.

“Our position has been centred [on] the understanding that the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector present a pathway for the country to stimulate economic growth through the creation of new job opportunities, increased investment prospects and [an] overall reduction in the level of foreign exchange spend on purchase of oil,” she explained.

Acknowledging that Government’s policy objective regarding the sector will require significant levels of investment, Clarke said banking institutions and insurance companies have a significant role to play.

Monday’s meeting among private and public sector representatives, donor organizations and other stakeholders, and insurance and financial services sector officials, sought to among other things, identify a new coordinated and collaborative approach towards developing the sector.

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