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By Kadeem Joseph

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Engineers at the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) and the ministry of energy are forging ahead with plans to complete a hybrid energy plant for the sister isle of Barbuda by 2021.

Itajah Simmons, energy officer within the ministry of energy said the efforts form part of the Green Barbuda Project, which is being funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development aimed at reducing the island’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“A part of the problem was the issues Barbuda experienced after the hurricane, so we saw it fit to modify the way in which energy is produced,” he said, noting that the project will contribute to the reduction of Antigua and Barbuda’s carbon emissions.

Residents in Barbuda had a slow return to the energy grid due to infrastructural damage following the passage of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017.

The power plant is expected to be erected in the northeastern side of the main Barbuda settlement of Codrington, according to the energy officer.

Simmons explained that the hybrid plant will not only have diesel engines but solar panels and a battery backup system “that would help to stabilise the grid over there in Barbuda”.

“During the day, most of the energy will be produced by the solar panels,” the energy officer added, with the battery system acting as a backup during times when the sunlight may be low. However, the system has one more back up protocol where the diesel engines on the plant will be automatically engaged when the power provided by the battery runs low.

Simmons said the project began in May 2020 with excavation work, and with engineers already on the ground in the sister isle, the work is expected to be completed in June of 2021.

The Antigua Barbuda Labour Party-led government has long touted plans to make the sister isle more dependent on renewable energy.