Caribbean nations are being urged to prioritize the sustainable management of natural, human, and financial resources, especially in the regional energy sector.
In his welcome address on Day 3 of the inaugural Caribbean Energies & Investment Summit (CEIS), Mark Hill, CEO of Export Barbados (BIDC), emphasized the vital importance of efficient usage of all forms of capital for achieving success. Moreover, Hill underscored the significance of utilizing our natural resources wisely, including the biodiversity of our oceans and atmosphere, for the benefit of global businesses. He cautioned that if we deplete our natural resources, we are essentially undermining the foundation of our economy.
“We also need to consider human capital. Do we have the necessary skills and expertise in the Caribbean to deliver on various scientific, technological, and engineering projects? It is crucial that we have the human capital to deliver these projects. Lastly, we must consider the financial capital required for investment to take place. These three types of capital are essential to our theme, ‘Barbados is Life’. Unless we continue to build the right type of ethics, industry skills, work ethic, and reputation for excellence, all of which we are discussing here will remain a pie-in-the-sky conversation. So, let us focus on what is global and bankable,” the Export Barbados CEO stated.
CEO Hill suggested that investing in electric mobility, including electric scooters, would be a wise use of financial capital to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, he emphasized the importance of establishing a safe and reliable infrastructure that would enable individuals to commute to work via bicycles. Hill asserted that this measure would boost the overall health and well-being of our workforce and contribute to our efforts in combatting non-communicable diseases.
“We should consider introducing bike lanes to enable Barbadians who live near their workplaces to commute safely, similar to how people in Holland or Sweden can ride longer distances even in unfavorable weather conditions. While electric scooters are a viable commuting option for our island, most people prefer to use cars, resulting in an average of 1.2 persons per car in Barbados. This is not a wise use of financial, human, or natural capital.”
Meanwhile, Hill highlighted the limited investment and innovation in the island’s maritime space, which is 400 times its landmass, and called for urgent action to be taken.
“There are newer technologies available, such as satellite-based systems, that can constantly monitor temperature and wave height. The oceans hold significant potential, and we need to explore them further. While many are focused on exploring outer space, we must focus on exploring our oceans and their renewable energy potential. This includes the production of biofuels, the cultivation of seaweed like Sargassum, and the untapped resources beneath the ocean’s surface. We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to utilizing our oceans as a primary source of renewable energy for our future.”
CEO Hill also mentioned the potential of green hydrogen but acknowledged concerns over cost. He remembered his experience starting in the renewable energy space 15 years ago when solar panels cost $1500 each. Thanks to innovation, significant price disruptions and adjustments have occurred. “Therefore, we can anticipate that the price of green hydrogen will decrease per kilowatt. New renewable energy sources, such as green hydrogen, offer solutions to energy and environmental challenges while creating economic growth and employment opportunities that we should embrace.
CEIS was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre under the theme Sustainable Energy Paths for the Caribbean from November 1-3, 2023, as part of CARICOM Energy Month. The Government of Barbados organized CEIS under the patronage of the Ministry of Energy and Business. Barbados National Oil Company Limited, National Petroleum Corporation, Invest Barbados, and Export Barbados co-hosted the summit.