Wind energy over new refinery, experts caution

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Alternative energy experts are discouraging the proposal to construct an oil refinery in Antigua & Barbuda. They are of the view that the country should make a move towards wind energy instead.

Venezuela’s lead diplomat in Antigua & Barbuda, Ambassador Carlos Perez, recently disclosed that the South American country and government are holding discussions for the establishment of an oil refinery on the twin- island nation.

Perez said more talk is necessary before the project can become a reality, but added that negotiations are “well advanced” at this stage.

But speaking on OBSERVER’s Voice of the People yesterday, Director of Wadadli Industrial Renewable Energy Ltd (WIRE), Chante Codrington, said wind is the most efficient and affordable source of energy.

Codrington said his organisation plans to install a 20-megawatt offshore wind farm, with a goal to reduce the country’s dependency on fossil fuels by 50 per cent in 10 years.

“Solar energy would not be a good fit for Antigua, we don’t have the land space … but one wind turbine is the equivalent of 16,000 solar panels.”

“Antigua has a template to follow,” he said. “Aruba in 2009 installed a 30-megawatt wind farm. Since then their electricity rate has fallen by 25 per cent and they have reduced their dependency on fossil fuels by 20 per cent.”

Codrington said an oil refinery could potentially cause a bad odor, air pollution, water concerns, fire/explosion risks, as well as health effects for residents.

The energy expert also expressed concern about the possible damage of our natural environment, which could have a harmful effect on the tourism industry.

Energy expert John Burke agreed, saying an oil refinery would have negative long-term effects on the country.

“A project like this in the short term will economically benefit with jobs, but in the long term it is the wrong way to go,” he said.

Burke also advocated the use of electric cars, which would reduce the need for fuel.

Reposted from the Antigua Daily Observer: