Barbados is transitioning from a petroleum-based economy to the first green, 100% renewable energy and carbon neutral island state in the world, and aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. And one Barbados-based cleantech start-up, called Rum & Sargassum Inc., is aiming to produce fossil fuel-free biogas as a renewable alternative to traditional compressed natural gas.
“Rum & Sargassum Inc. is at the forefront of sustainable energy innovation in the Caribbean. Our process co-digests three waste materials—rum distillery wastewater, Sargassum seaweed, and Barbados blackbelly sheep manure—converting those waste streams into affordable, fossil-fuel free energy in the form of renewable CNG,” said Dr. Legena Henry, CEO and co-founder.
The company will be one of several industry players represented at the upcoming Caribbean Energies and Investment Summit (CEIS 2023) in Bridgetown from November 1 to 3. CEIS 2023 is co-hosted by Export Barbados, and supported by Barbados’ BLOOM Cleantech Cluster and by the Harnessing Innovative Technologies to Support Resilient Settlements on the Coastal Zones of the Caribbean project (HIT RESET Caribbean).
“Since Rum and Sargassum Inc. became a BLOOM member in January, we have been competitively selected to receive a €300,000 HIT RESET Caribbean research grant toward the blueprint for a pilot biogas refuelling station, and the implementation of a mobile app to help predict Sargassum seaweed biomass influx patterns. So it’s clearly an attractive proposition for scale-up investors, and we’ve been taking calls from several interested parties,” she said.
Funded by the ACP Innovation Fund and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States’ Research and Innovation Programme, with the financial contribution of the European Union, HIT RESET Caribbean aims to help government entities, coastal development agencies and coastal communities by giving them the tools to be better prepared for climate change and less likely to be harmed by it. One major challenge facing the region is the massive offshore buildup and shoreline deposits of Sargassum which threaten to disrupt an entire way of life in the region.
“The Caribbean is staring down the barrel of the 5000-mile wide Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, and everything is at stake: the future of our tourism industry, the sustainability of livelihoods for our fisherfolk, and the quality of life of our coastal communities,” she said.
“What we are doing at Rum and Sargassum Inc. provides a pattern for how to convert this environmental crisis into an energy solution, by using Sargassum seaweed removed from deep water areas of the Barbados exclusive economic zone at road-traffic scale, before it beaches.”