Barbados cannot sustain $800 million fuel import bill, says minister
Bridgetown, Barbados (BGIS) Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, has expressed concern about the rising fuel consumption bill in Barbados, saying that the country could not sustain an $800 million import bill for fossils fuels.
However, he is of the view that the local alternative and renewable energy sector could offer some respite to Barbadians from this challenge.
Inniss made the comments on Tuesday while touring Paradise Green Energy (PGE) Inc., which collects and recycles used vegetable oil for the production of bio-fuel.
He also reiterated the government’s commitment to the alternative and renewable energy sector.
As such, the industry minister revealed that government would soon bring to Parliament legislation which would highlight the importance of the sector.
“There are two matters up for debate in Parliament, perhaps as early as this month. The Income Tax Act Amendment which will speak to some incentives being granted to those who are involved in renewable energy sectors and perhaps more profoundly, the new Electric Light and Power Bill, which would change the landscape of energy provision and use in Barbados. This is focussed quite a bit on the renewable energy side of it,” he said.
Inniss pointed out that, while many Barbadians remain focussed on the challenges associated with rising electricity bills, increasing fuel consumption was another cause for concern.
He disclosed that more than 40 percent of Barbados’ fossil fuel imports went towards operating vehicles and heavy machinery and he praised entrepreneurs such as PGE for their efforts at reducing this dependency.
Managing director of PGE, Joseph Del Castilho, outlined some of the advantages of using bio-diesel to the industry minister.
He said: “For one, it’s renewable, zero sulphur, almost zero carcinogens from the exhaust. It’s clean burning which is good for the engine, and while it is not cheaper to produce than petroleum, right now it is 10 cents per litre cheaper than diesel.”
He explained that PGE collected vegetable oil mainly from private households and, in turn, produced some 1,000 litres of bio-diesel per day for the general public.
Del Castilho disclosed that he was also seeking to expand his customer base by offering a bio-diesel/petroleum blend to the public. This, he pointed out, would not only ensure that more Barbadians could take advantage of the service but the process would reduce the high sulphur content in petroleum.
“This would increase the buying capacity for the public and would also help petroleum burn a lot better. We are trying to get permission where we can have a tank of petroleum here and then do a blend. This would be good especially for fleet vehicles whose volume is quite substantial… It is a bit difficult to supply fleet vehicles at this time as the [bio-diesel] fuel stock is very limited,” he said.