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Caribbean off target in meeting goals on renewable transition

Regional officials are concerned that Caribbean countries are significantly behind on their renewable energy transition targets.

In fact, chief executive officer of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator (CCSA) Raquel Moses said the goals set by some countries were not even enough to put a major dent in their fossil fuel use.

“What the global stocktake, sadly, will reveal is that we are far behind where we need to be, and it wouldn’t be so bad if where we’ve committed to be would take us where we need to go. The fact is, where we’ve committed to be is not going to take us where we need to go and we’re not even reaching that,” explained Moses.

She was speaking during a panel discussion in the Central Bank of Barbados Caribbean Economic Forum series on Wednesday night, on the topic What Does Moving to Green Energy Mean for Us?

Moses urged all stakeholders to play a greater role in accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

“So it is going to be a bit of a come-to-Jesus [moment] where everyone’s gonna have to decide, ‘okay, what does this really mean that we should do?’ . . . We treat the cost of the transition as though it is burning money. It isn’t. That is economic activity. What we need to make sure is that as much of that money that needs to be spent is spent within the region on solutions that we create,” she urged.

“So this is calling all entrepreneurs and solution providers. We may not be able to create big wind turbines but there are components of the solution set that we need that we can create, and we need to make sure that we are fixated on how we participate in this new economy.”

Moses said the CCSA is working with other organisations on creating a climate-smart map “to identify where we are against the objectives that we’ve set”.

Executive director of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) Dr Gary Jackson noted that ten countries in the region had set a goal to produce 100 per cent of their electricity needs from renewable energy sources by various dates.

He said more than half of countries in the Caribbean had a goal of producing more than 50 per cent of their electricity needs from renewable energy sources.

So far, Costa Rica and Suriname have achieved their goal of 100 per cent and 35 per cent of electricity generation from renewable energy sources, respectively.

In the case of Barbados, the Government is seeking to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy reliance by 2030. However, the country is still well below the 50 per cent mark with just about seven years to go.

“The total generation capacity right now in CARICOM member states is 6 620 megawatts. The total renewable energy capacity installed today is 680 megawatts. So you can understand how far behind we are at this juncture. So we need to accelerate and scale up, and I believe regional integration is going to give us that opportunity to do that,” said Jackson.

He reported that CCREEE is in the process of putting together a regional energy publication on energy security. Work on this, he said, was being done in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank.

He said a “baseline report” will be released by November this year.

“One of the things that we are working on with utilities across the region is what we call an integrated utility service model,” added Jackson.

“That is an operation that happens behind your metre. So, the utility will come into your home and do what we call an energy audit, they will assess all your energy needs and see if you are being conservative and if you are being efficient.”

The CCREEE executive director explained that under that programme, householders will have their inefficient equipment changed for free initially, but will pay back the cost through an on-billing mechanism.

“That is a mechanism for the consumer to get affordable energy in their household and that can also happen at the commercial level,” he said.

Jackson did not say how soon that programme would be rolled out, or in what countries. However, he suggested that investors and financial institutions could create a special fund to support the initiative.

“We are trying to get that done now in a number of countries, either through the regulatory regime of that country or unregulated, meaning that the utility could set up a special purpose vehicle to get this done in record time,” he said.


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