The Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) is the brainchild of four People who met back in August 2010.
The idea for the formation of the association came about because of these men of like minds. Mark Hill, Joseph Kellman, Peter Gollop and Clyde Griffith, saw the need to work towards removing Barbados from the vulnerability of the international decision making of oil barons whose prices have become a bane to our economic development. We realized that small economies like ours have no input in the global price of oil and the country was captive to rising oil prices costing millions in scarce foreign exchange resources. Not only was oil costing our economy in hard currency! Our environment continued to be despoiled by the carbons emissions resulting from high consumption of “dirty” oil. BREA was registered as an NGO in May 2011. In the initial stages, we “borrowed’ constitutions from like-minded NGO’s until we formulated our own in 2013 through the leadership of Mr Nigel Bennett, an Attorney-at-Law. As a youthful organization, BREA has gone through several challenges. But our vision, first conceptualized at the outset, remains the same.
After a series of planning meetings among the four founding members and with input from key persons involved in the sector, BREA came up with a set of objectives listed below:
- To create an awareness among the population and to encourage the adoption of best practices in energy efficiency and renewable energy technology;
- To assist the Government of Barbados in accomplishing the implementation of its policies, as outlined in the Sustainable Energy Framework (SEF);
- To serve as a national registry for Alternative Energy systems on the island;
- To foster the creation of “green” jobs and entrepreneurial development;To promote the foremost promoters of a sustainable economy through energy conservation and the cost-effective use of renewable energy in an environmentally and socio-economically acceptable manner, such that every institution in Barbados will have access to some form of alternative energy, whether directly or indirectly by the year 2020;
- To foster the creation of a Caribbean Renewable Energy Association so that the energy interest of Caricom governments will be enhanced.
Constitution and Structure
As noted before, there is a constitution in place, and it governs all activities of the association. The association is governed by a Board consisting of 10 members and a Chief Executive Officer (Clyde Griffith) who is the only staff member. The current Board for the year 2014-2015 is as follows:
- President – Aidan Rogers, Attorney-at-Law;
- Vice President – Laura Hoyte, Engineer
- Secretary – Nigel Bennett, Attorney-at-Law
- Treasurer – Peter Gollop, Engineer and Founding Member
- Board Floor – Chetwyn Ryce; Kevin Devonish; Jerry Franklin, Erica Hall, David Green
- Representing UWI – Natasha Corbin
- Representing Pig Farmers Co-op – Algernon Johnson
- Ex-Officio – Clyde A. Griffith, Founding Member
The association is currently engaged in negotiating three MOU’s with two major organizations in Barbados and one large NGO in Canada. It is also getting ready to launch a Consumer Guide to Understanding Photovoltaics.
Why Go Solar?
Solar PV systems are already collectively saving their Barbadian users over $5 million a year on their electricity bills (equivalent to 5,000 barrels of oil, or over 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions). Apart from allowing PV system users to generate their electricity, a solar PV system addresses issues relating to the island’s extremely high fuel import bill as well as its impact on the environment. Because they have no moving parts, solar PV modules (the most expensive part of a PV system) are incredibly reliable and have an expected life span of more than 25 years. They are also easy to install and require very little in the way of maintenance.
Types OF Solar PV Systems
There are two main types of solar PV systems:
• Grid-connect (sometimes called grid-tie), and
• Off-grid (sometimes called stand alone/remote power).
A grid-connect installation ensures you have the electricity you need, whenever you need it –
automatically and regardless of weather conditions. With a grid connect system your property is
still connected to the electricity grid for periods such as during the nighttime, when solar
electricity production is not possible.
An off-grid solar PV system is completely separated from the utility and is usually more
expensive to install and maintain, as it requires the use a battery bank to store electricity for
when the sun isn’t shining. However, developments in battery technology mean that battery
costs are falling, and off-grid systems are not subject to changing energy prices or utility
agreements so some PV users like the independence that homemade energy production offers.
How A Grid-Connect PV System Works
1. Solar panels directly convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electrical energy.
2. The inverter converts the solar DC power into alternating current (AC) ready to be fed back into the grid or used in your home.
3. AC power from the inverter goes through the main panel for use in your home.
4. Energy efficiency lighting and appliances receive power either from the solar panels or from the grid.
5. The meters record the energy sent to the grid from your solar system (i.e. the production meter) as well as the energy consumed from the grid.
6. Any surplus electricity being generated is automatically exported into the mains grid for use elsewhere.
Note: To protect electrical linemen, if there is a utility power outage normal solar PV systems will stop working. You could buy a more expensive ‘bi-modal’ inverter with batteries, which can continue to operate during blackouts.
Most people currently going solar invest in a grid system . DC electricity from the solar panels is converted into an AC supply suitable for domestic appliances via the use of an inverter. Whenever the system produces more power than is being used, the surplus is fed into the utility grid. As you are then exporting power to the utility, BL & P will pay you for every kilowatt-hour of electricity your solar system feed into the grid. In essence, the utility can be used as a storage system because when your solar system isn’t producing energy. For example; at night, the main power grid supplies the electricity as usual.
How An Offgrid PV Syytem Works
1. Solar panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electrical energy.
2. DC electricity flows to the batteries via the charge controller/regulator, which prevents the batteries overcharging.
3. The battery bank allows you to collect energy during the day and store it until you need to use it. These can be installed either inside the house or in an external battery shed.
4. The inverter changes the battery DC power into alternating current (AC) ready to be used in the home.
5. Energy-efficient lighting and appliances receive power either from the solar panels or from the grid.
Off-grid systems are battery-based systems. Instead of feeding the excess energy to the utility grid, it is stored in batteries for use when there is no solar energy available (e.g. after sunset!). Homeowners can choose to keep their utility connection in case the solar PV system is down for maintenance.
Which Solar PV System Suits You
|System Size||System Should Produce||How Many People Can Use It||What Can You Use It For|
|2 KW||3500 kWh/year||1-2|
|3 kW||5250 kWh/Year||2-3|
|5 kW||8750 kWh||4+|
How To Lower Our Electricity Bills
The high cost of electricity here in Barbados has taught a lot of us to be frugal with our electricity use, but there are still many things we can do to lower our energy bills, including:
- The single best thing we can do to use less electricity is for us to change our energy habits – its best to create ‘energy efficient’ people, as well as install ‘energy efficient’ products. There are products that can help us achieve this such as installing a digital energy monitor. This is an excellent way to make us more aware of our energy use and improve a family’s energy habits. After all, it’s not our homes that consume electricity; it’s the people inside our homes!
- Install energy efficient lighting. Unlike compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), modern energy LED light bulbs are now able to provide a similar colour of light to the old incandescent light bulbs that we are all used to and like. You might be surprised by just how much LED light bulbs have developed in recent years. Installing LED lighting is quick and easy (as easy as changing a light bulb!), and you will see savings right from your next electricity bill (savings from 50% to as much as 90% of your lighting costs can be achieved). LED lighting is more expensive than conventional lighting but the substantial savings in electricity consumption mean that payback can be in a matter of months.
- If you use hot water and don’t have a solar water system, get one! Barbados has an internationally recognised solar water heating industry but you may be surprised to learn that around 60% of homes still do not own a solar water heater. If you are currently using a gas or electric immersion heater, installing a solar water heater will pay for itself in savings within 3 years… and you are supporting local industry! or you could also try using tankless gas Water Heaters that works on Natural Gas, which does not only lower your electricity bill, but also helps in preserving fossil fuels.
- Replace old appliances with more energy efficient appliances. For example, a frontloading washing machine will use approximately half the electricity that a top loading washing machine uses (and approximately half the water). Often the biggest energy user in your home is the fridge/freezer. That white unobtrusive cupboard in the corner of your kitchen could slowly but surely costing you around $1,000/year to run. When replacing old fridges, new fridges with BNSI’s ‘Barbados Energy Labels’ can pay for themselves in energy savings in less than three years!
The Barbados National Standards Institute (BNSI) is working to help Barbados reduce its energy use in the residential sector by 24%. See overleaf to learn more about the BNSI and their energy label initiative.
To facilitate the growth and development of renewable energy. To promote the adoption of renewable energy, energy conversation, and energy initiatives in Barbados.