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$40M, 100% Green Electricity for Barbuda Nearing Completion

by Shelton Daniel

A renewable energy project on the sister isle of Barbuda will provide 100% of the island’s electricity needs, but Government must spend an additional US$4 million to acquire storage batteries.

This was discussed on Saturday by Prime Minister Gaston Browne during his weekly radio program, The Browne and Browne Show, on Pointe FM 99.1.

He explained that the power plant will fully meet electricity needs from solar energy during the daylight hours, but needs backup or storage capacity for the overnight period from sunset to sunrise.

“The project will provide Barbuda with electricity 100% renewable during the daytime hours. It has some battery storage, but not [enough] to carry it for the full period from, let’s say, 6:00 p.m. to, maybe … 6:00 a.m. I believe it may have about two hours of battery – if I’m mistaken, maybe about four hours of battery storage – so we need to buy between 8-10 hours of battery storage, which may run us about US$4 million.”

According to PM Browne, who is also the nation’s Minister for Finance, “Once we achieve that, Barbuda will be totally 100% percent green in terms of the production of energy.” 

He however clarified that the project, as it stands now, is really a hybrid power generation system.

“It comprises the solar panels. It also has batteries, and it has the diesel generating plant. So, what will happen during the night when no solar energy is being generated and there is no battery storage, the [diesel] generator will provide electricity for the Barbuda people,” he elaborated.

According to PM Browne, Barbuda is closer than most other places in the Caribbean to becoming fully powered by renewable or green energy. “I mean it will be probably the only community-based project in which we’ll have this type of green energy; clean, resilient, affordable electricity supplied to locals.”

He said when it comes to utility cost, the Barbuda green energy project “will also reduce the price to locals. I believe that, currently, APUA has been subsidizing the cost of electricity in Barbuda by about 50%. What this [project] will do is to reduce the cost significantly; so the subsidy that APUA had to provide, I think that will be eliminated. And I believe there is scope to reduce the cost of electricity to even below what they pay now.”

The Prime Minister stated that Barbuda is being used “as a template, but this is exactly where we intend to take Antigua … We expect to achieve a [carbon] net zero situation by about, I’d say, 2040. We are going to have a reduction within the next 18-24 months from the acquisition of the LNG plant. But that is a transitional situation. Our preference would have been not to engage in any fossil fuel [use] at this time. But we do need base load.”

Browne said, in light of this, his government has “decided to transition from the heavy fuels in the interim for the next 10 years, and then between about 2032 to 2040, we fully transition into green energy.”

But he observed that, “The LNG, in any case, has probably about 40% less [carbon] emissions than the heavy fuels, so we will see an improvement in our carbon footprint when that plant is actually introduced here in Antigua.”

Prime Minister noted that other benefits of the green energy project on the sister isle is the employment it would generate for Barbudans in areas such as providing maintenance for the plant.

“In fact, Barbudans are being employed there already during the construction period, and there will also be a transfer of technology. So, ultimately we will be spending about 40 million dollars in Barbuda to have this plant which will provide 100% solar energy to Barbudans,” said the PM.

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