Barbados: Electric vehicles being seen as answer to bus shortage

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Barbados: Electric vehicles being seen as answer to bus shortage
Minister of Energy Wilfred Abrahams took this BMW i3 for a test drive today.
Minister of Energy Wilfred Abrahams took this BMW i3 for a test drive today.

(BARBADOS TODAY) – Minister of Energy Wilfred Abrahams said Government was seriously considering more energy efficient options to address the shortage of vehicles at the state-run Transport Board and the Sanitation Service Authority.

In an address this morning at the opening of a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) conference aimed at establishing a framework to enable greater use of electric vehicles in the region, Abrahams said the Mia Mottley-led administration would seek help from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union for such an endeavour.

“Under our public sector Smart Energy programme we are working with key stakeholders to buy much needed electric buses for the Transport Board with help from the IDB and European Union. We are also looking at electric garbage trucks to resolve our shortage of those trucks, and our overall goal is to replace all Government vehicles with electric ones where appropriate or possible,” he said.

Currently one-third of Barbados’ fuel imports go towards transportation, which the minister said translates to “approximately 3,500 barrels of oil every day”.

“Using a conservative cost of US$50 per barrel, this costs US$64 million per year, but with oil prices now projected to rise closer to US$100, this could increase to as much as US$120 million,” he told the gathering.

Abrahams added that there were approximately 300 all electric vehicles on the road here, which can save 2,390 barrels of oil a year.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but with the international price of oil at US$65 per barrel, we could save US$155,000 per year. And since the main dealer installs solar photovoltaic systems with every vehicle they sell, the real savings is 3,600 barrels of oil, or US$235,000 per year,” the minister said at his first official function since being appointed to the Mottley Cabinet following last month’s general election, which swept the Barbados Labour Party into power.

He said Government’s long term plans for the energy sector are aimed at making Barbados “the first small island developing state in the world to become a 100 per cent green economy by the year 2030”.

The two-day conference has attracted delegates from 14 CARICOM member states and two associate members, and includes representatives from utility companies, companies that are actively promoting the use of renewable energy, electric car dealers and representatives from Caribbean universities. On Friday there will be an exhibition of electric cars and other renewable energy technology at the Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium.

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