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Export Barbados (BIDC) Signs MOU to Explore Wave Energy

Export Barbados (BIDC) and Wello Oy, a company from Finland specializing in wave energy technology, have announced a new cooperation agreement to explore the opportunities that lie in Barbados’ marine space for energy generation.

The agreement, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), establishes a framework for the exploration, manufacture and deployment of a commercial wave energy park off the coast of Barbados, using Wello’s proprietary Penguin Wave Energy Conversion technology. 

There are three phases to the project – a feasibility study; the development of a prototype device; and the setting up of a commercial project. The initial stage will determine the key characteristics required to create a successful project.  With all the necessary regulatory compliances in place, Phase 2 will see the full construction, deployment and testing of the prototype wave energy converter implemented under a contract negotiated between Wello and Export Barbados (BIDC). This contract will set out, inter alia, the required key performance indicators (KPIs) to advance the prototype to full-scale commercial development, and the grant funding to be committed by Wello.  Once the KPI’s have been successfully achieved, implementation of the final phase will see the establishment of a 5-megawatt commercial wave energy project.

This is all in keeping with the thrust of Export Barbados (BIDC) to contribute to the diversification and growth of Barbados’ economy through new investment, increased exports, and employment generation; and Barbados’ goal to fully embrace renewable energy.

During the Safari Oceans Barbados-Kenya Business Alliance Forum held in early October, Minister of International Business and Industry, the Hon. Ronald Toppin, highlighted the important role that the Oceans Economy can play in Barbados.

“We are also looking to develop new sources of economic growth with greater emphasis on our ocean economy and life sciences investments. We believe that a number of solutions for the challenges we face, lie in our waters. In addition to the tremendous benefits from coastal solar energy and wave energy, blue technology is opening up marine resources to obtain mari-culture, cosmetics and health care products, among others,” said Minister Toppin.   

His sentiments aligned with the thoughts of the Hon. Kirk Humphrey, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, on Unleashing the Potential of the Blue Economy, who said, “A sustainable ocean economy has the potential to transform the lives of communities via development of non-extractive industries that provide higher value-added opportunities.  He further added, “Economies of scale dictate that we (Barbados) will not compete en masse but we can compete on innovation, flexibility and efficiency.”

Chief Executive Officer of Export Barbados, Mark Hill, speaking on the signing of the MOU, explained that the Oceans Economy was one of three strategic pillars established within the Corporation, aimed at optimizing efforts to increase exports exponentially.

Hill stated, “We have set out, as a priority, to build an export sector that can deliver US$1 billion in exports by 2030. We see the Blue Economy as an under-tapped, yet vast resource that can significantly contribute to the economic development of the country, particularly now in a climate that necessitates innovation and economic diversification for survival. The Corporation is therefore seeking to advance several capacity-building projects and programmes that will help in laying the foundation for new lucrative industries to emerge over the short to medium term. I am therefore excited about our partnership with Wello Oy in birthing this new industry that will allow Barbados to be a leader in the region in harnessing wave energy as a clean sustainable and reliable alternative source of energy. In so doing, we will contribute significantly to the national goal of reducing our carbon footprint by 2030”.

Adding to these comments, Heikki Paakkinen, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wello Oy said that “Diversifying the energy mix and creating a more sustainable world for the future is what we have been striving for with our wave energy conversion technology. In this partnership with BIDC, Wello aims to not only give a means to harness this huge untapped form of energy but to also provide a new economic driver within Barbados. Our aim is to deploy wave energy not only in Barbados, but to also aid in setting up a new industry within the country, enabling the Island to export Penguin Wave Energy Converters to the Caribbean Islands, South America and to the rest of the world. We’re extremely excited to partner with BIDC in this project and look forward to Barbados becoming a leader in wave energy conversion exports with Wello’s technology.”

Work associated with the MOU is already underway, and Export Barbados and Wello Oy are together looking forward to fruitful outcomes in the not too distant future.