Representatives from the Barbuda Council, the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy and the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) met with a representative of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to discuss plans for a project aimed at enabling Barbuda in transitioning to become a 100% green energy island in terms of its electricity production.
The meeting, which took place in Barbuda, was aimed at providing Masdar with a first-hand perspective on the opportunities and challenges for renewable energy development in Barbuda.
The mission to Barbuda comes against the background of a US$50 million grant funded by the Government of the UAE for supporting renewable energy projects in sixteen Caribbean countries. Antigua and Barbuda is among a number of Caribbean countries, which have already submitted requests to the UAE – Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund for the development of renewable energy projects in the region.
Technical implementation of the UAE Fund is being managed by the Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, which works to advance the development, commercialization and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions.
The project proposal for Barbuda, the brainchild of Prime Minister Gaston Browne, is aimed at a smoothly phased movement by Barbuda away from expensive and polluting imported fossil fuels to a situation where the island’s electricity would be supplied by a mix of renewable energy technologies, expected to be primarily solar and wind power, backed up by modern battery storage technologies.
The team visited the APUA electricity plant in Codrington and obtained data which would be required for advancing renewable energy uptake on Barbuda as well as visiting possible sites for installation of the facilities.
While in Barbuda, the team met with representatives of the Barbuda Council led by the Honorable Arthur Nibbs, Parliamentary representative and Minister with responsibility for Barbuda Affairs, who confirmed his government’s full support for the project and pledged his assistance in taking the project proposal forward.
Accompanying the team was Ambassador Conrod Hunte of Antigua and Barbuda’s Mission to the United Nations and whose office has played a lead role in the discussions to date with the UAE and Masdar officials. Ambassador Hunte noted the importance of the project in supporting Antigua and Barbuda’s commitments in meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Accord on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and emphasized the need for full stakeholder buy-in at all levels if the project was to receive the support being requested under the UAE’s Caribbean fund.
In an earlier meeting with UAE officials in January, Prime Minister Browne and Energy Minister Asot Michael, had pointed to the need for ensuring that tourism and other developments planned for Barbuda proceed in a sustainable manner, and pointed to the possibility of the Green Barbuda project serving as a model for other small Caribbean islands and communities seeking to move away from fossil fuel based sources of energy and utilizing their abundant renewable energy resources.
If approved by the UAE, it is expected that management of the Green Barbuda project would be led by the Energy Unit of the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy. •