Caribbean Gets Clean Energy Boost

A Caribbean Energy Security Summit brings new commitments to clean energy development in the region.
Published: Mon 02 Feb 2015

The Caribbean, with many of the nations reliant on costly fossil fuel imports, has a significant potential for renewable energy development. A number of these nations have introduced targets, and several initiatives have been introduced, including the Ten Island Challenge, which seeks to facilitate low carbon use in the region. [Engerati-Renewable Energy Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean and Bahamas Takes On Renewable Energy Challenge]

Caribbean Energy Security Initiative

Another of the initiatives is the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI), which was launched by US Vice President Joe Biden in June 2014 to promote and support energy security in the region. Its three-fold portfolio of activities are:

● Increasing access to finance, good governance, and diversification of energy resources

● Transforming Caribbean islands through individual country partnerships

● Maximizing the impact of existing donor efforts.

As a follow up a Caribbean Energy Security Summit was held in Washington, DC on January 26, with participants including Vice President Biden, US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Caribbean Heads of Government, multilateral development banks, and other international partners. There, several new commitments were announced (in addition to those in the now usual high level ‘Statement’ from such events).

New commitments to renewables and energy efficiency

New proposals and/or commitments include the following.

● The World Bank presented a proposal to create a Caribbean Energy Investment Network to improve coordination and communication among development partners and to empower Caribbean nations to direct and align external support with their own national goals.

● The US-Grenada pilot programme that was launched in September 2014 is intended as an example of an energy diversification programme for the region and for other small islands elsewhere. The programme is based on a model that was implemented in the US Virgin Islands and Hawaii and that seeks to identify tailored, comprehensive energy solutions for island jurisdictions, including integrating policy and regulatory reforms and encouraging private sector investment in sustainable technologies.

● The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will intensify its focus on developing clean energy projects in the Caribbean. A team has been identified with specific responsibility for identifying and arranging financing for such projects.

OPIC also announced it will disburse the first tranche of approximately US$43 million in financing for Blue Mountain Renewables’ 34 MW wind project in Jamaica. Construction is due to begin in June.

Clean energy developments in the Caribbean

Other ongoing US supported activities include the following:

● The Department of State is supporting technical assistance in Saint Kitts and Nevis to support development of their geothermal resources. Work includes competitive procurement processes, electrical system analysis, environmental review, project management and technical and commercial island interconnection studies.

● Under the Haiti Energy Policy and Utility Partnership Program, the US Energy Association is supporting power sector reform in El Salvador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

● Through the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Capacity Building Project, the Organization of American States (OAS) is providing project development support to Caribbean governments and utilities for sustainable energy projects.

● The Department of Interior, together with State, is working with Jamaica to facilitate commercial renewable energy on public lands.

● USAID’s Improved Cooking Technology Project in Haiti resulted in the sale of more than 50,000 biomass and LPG stoves to reduce charcoal use and is encouraging the widespread adoption of this technology.

● The OAS is assisting Trinidad and Tobago in the Closed Loop Cycle Production project to promote cleaner production methods among small businesses.

● USAID will support a multi-year programme to promote energy efficiency and integration of renewables into island energy grids. The Jamaica Clean Energy Programme, which will be the largest portion of the overall effort, aims to establish the pre-conditions for clean energy development, optimize renewable energy integration, and accelerate private sector clean energy investment. In the Eastern Caribbean, support will emphasize the development of new financial tools for energy efficiency and renewables with a particular focus on the hotel and tourism sectors. 

● The US Trade and Development Agency has provided grant funding for three projects in the Dominican Republic that will support the development of clean energy. These are for a feasibility study and pilot project to assess the viability of modular electric generators, technical assistance to analyze new smart grid options and technologies for improving system reliability, and technical assistance to develop financial tools for commercial users to acquire solar PV power systems for self-generation.

● The Department of Energy, OPIC and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are developing the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CHEER) programme. CHEER will provide technical assistance, training, and attractive financing to hotels that commit to reduce their energy and water footprints through efficiency and renewable technology solutions.

● Through the Sustainable Communities in the Caribbean and Central America project, the OAS is promoting clean energy and efficiency in Antigua and Barbuda and the Dominican Republic.

● USAID is working to rehabilitate a 4MW power plant in Northern Haiti.

● DOE is providing technical support to the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs to design and carry out a Caribbean-wide Regional Energy Research Centre.

A Caribbean Clean Energy Technology Symposium will be held March 24-27, 2015, co-hosted by the DOE, Virgin Islands government and Caribbean-Central American Action. The event is intended as the first in a series of regional stakeholder engagements to formulate concrete goals, share best practices and address implementation strategies for clean energy adoption. Working Groups will create networks to address Caribbean clean energy issues, including energy education, efficiency, renewable energy and electricity diversification, and climate change.