Green hydrogen for local energy and agriculture in Barbados
On the Harrow Plantation, a vast grass plain in the parish of Saint Philip in the South-East of Barbados, HDF Energy, together with its partner Rubis Caribbean, is currently pioneering an innovative business model that addresses two widespread issues on the Caribbean island: the lack of access to clean, affordable energy and the scarcity of agricultural land. Like many islands around the world, Barbados aims to transition to renewables to move away from costly and volatile imported fossil fuels. With an abundant natural resource endowment, such as solar and hydro, the Caribbean offers excellent opportunities to tap into renewable energy potential. At the same time, land that can be used for agricultural or farming purposes is limited, which creates a conflict of interest considering the usage of free land for solar or wind power plants.
HDF Energy has found a unique solution to capitalise on the available resources in the most efficient way possible, leveraging the advantages of green hydrogen. In their Renewstable® Barbados (RSB) project, they combine solar energy generation, leading-edge hydrogen storage and animal farming, thus aligning economic, environmental and social benefits.
The core component of the large-scale, grid-friendly energy project is a photovoltaic power plant and a hydrogen energy storage system that will create 24/7 access to clean and affordable electricity for an estimated 16,000 inhabitants. The chosen technical setup is particularly well adapted to Barbados as it uses less amount of land in the first place. In addition, the 181 acres of land locating the solar PV arrays will be home to a flock of over 1,800 blackbelly sheep that will not only serve as natural lawnmowers and keep the land fertile, but also increase local production of meat and hide, thus making full use of the available land space. This integrative approach realised in collaboration with local agri-businesses hence stimulates decarbonisation and clean energy access, while simultaneously contributing to increased self-sufficiency in Barbados.
Typical to innovative business models, HDF Energy faced initial challenges including identification of financiers and navigating the local regulatory terrain. The financial regulatory environment posed additional challenges with respect to currency convertibility and repatriation.
Throughout this journey, the GET.invest Finance Catalyst provided instrumental support to HDF Energy in shifting focus to the local sphere and identify and approach financiers and equity investors including ElectriFI.
In particular, the GET.invest advisors have provided on-going targeted assistance regarding international best practices in dual-use solar/agri projects, including additional legal support towards local land-owner contractual MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) discussions.
The Renewstable® Barbados project welcomed Rubis Caribbean Holding as a new majority shareholder in February 2022. The beginning of the project construction is envisioned for Q2 2023.
Beyond that, HDF Energy is having discussions with various stakeholders on how to further add value and develop the project that will be key in demonstrating the hydrogen potential for island states, while addressing land scarcity issues and breaking down the energy and food silos through an integrative approach. Above all, 16,000 people will gain access to clean and reliable electricity, stimulating decarbonisation in the Caribbean.
Disclaimer: This story was last updated in March 2022.