OTEC presented as option for Barbados’ renewable energy transition

Meeting was held between Global OTEC and Barbados government representatives at the Export Barbados (BIDC) headquarters with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)

12 March 2024 – Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is getting more and more traction in the Caribbean region. Following meetings held last year with the Turks and Caicos Islands and Grenada governments, now Barbados is starting to explore OTEC for its renewable energy transition. In a roundtable at the Export Barbados (BIDC) headquarters last week, Global OTEC presented its technology and current projects, highlighting the potential for baseload clean energy from the ocean to power the country, reducing carbon emissions and generation costs, alongside the co-benefits such as desalination, aquaculture, and green fuel production.

Besides the 1.5MW floating OTEC platform Dominique, which will be installed in São Tomé and Príncipe, Africa, the company also highlighted the developments under PLOTEC, an EU-funded project that is creating a storm-resistant OTEC structure. The prototype is under construction and will soon be deployed in the Atlantic Ocean for testing. The project will contribute to improving OTEC’s accessibility in weather-prone areas, such as the Caribbean.

During the meeting, OTEC’s ability to deliver 24/7 baseload power, with an impressive capacity factor, was emphasised. MetOcean analysis for Barbados was presented, attesting OTEC’s suitability for the country, as well as the wider region. “Ahead of our installation of a tropical storm resistant OTEC structure, we are preparing a pipeline of bankable OTEC projects in the Caribbean region”, explains Global OTEC Founder and CEO Dan Grech.

The Barbados National Energy Policy (BNEP) states a goal of achieving 100% renewable energy and carbon-neutral island-state transformational goals by 2030. An OTEC project can complement the country’s wider decarbonisation efforts through both ocean and terrestrial technologies, aiding in reaching the target in the next six years.  “Export Barbados (BIDC) continues to pioneer the development of Barbados’ Oceans Economy through strategic partnerships. Barbados, as a Large Ocean State, must sustainably harness the resources from its Blue Economy to ensure national Energy Security via the development and implementation of suitable Ocean Energy Technology. Such innovative ocean energy technologies are key to achieving SDG 7 and aligning with the Paris Agreement as the island transitions away from fossil fuel dependency in light of the impacts of climate change. As the Inez Oceans Unit continues to explore collaboration with Global OTEC and the SIDS DOCK Initiative, Export Barbados (BIDC) also wishes to also thank the representatives from the Caribbean Development Bank and Invest Barbados for their valued contributions”, says the Consultant Project Coordinator at INEZ Oceans Unit of Barbados Government, Damien Prescod.

OTEC: a great fit for the Caribbean

The Caribbean is facing an energy crisis, commonly referred to as a “fuel trap“. To escape this trap, the region needs renewable energy technologies that take into account its unique characteristics, such as limited land space and vulnerability to tropical storms. In addition, there is an urgent need to reduce electricity prices, which are currently around USD 0.25 per kWh on average, more than double the average price in the United States. In some Caribbean countries, the prices can go up to over USD 0.40 per kWh. 

As these countries rely heavily on fossil fuels, with more than 90% of their electricity supply coming from this source, the consequent high and fluctuating costs affect competitiveness, productivity and perpetuate poverty. OTEC can help the Caribbean overcome its energy challenges, harnessing the power of the ocean, the islands’ main natural resource, to deliver clean and reliable power while reducing diesel costs by up to 50%. 

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