Warning that it will take upwards of $40 billion (US$20 billion) in investment for CARICOM to reach the goal of 100 per cent renewable energy use and energy efficiency, a senior regional civil servant has expressed disappointment at the slow pace of some member states in going green.
This, despite the fact that every country in the 15-nation bloc has either approved or drafted a national energy policy and that most member states have set “ambitious” targets for green energy.
But only three nations have so far developed agreements to hook up renewable energy generations systems to their national grids, he said Tuesday.
And many of the energy policies are in danger of being made obsolete by events, CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General Joseph Cox told the launch of a project preparation facility (PPF) in the public sector, hosted by the Barbados-based Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE).
The PPF is a project development support resource designed to help accelerate the preparation and development of sustainable energy projects so they could attract financing.
In addition to technical support and advice, the PPF links bankable projects within the public sector, non-governmental organizations, private sector and mixed capital companies to bankers and financiers.
But Cox warned: “Without massive investments upwards of US$20 billion, the CARICOM energy revolution and the achievements of our respective sustainable development goals, especially for economic growth and social improvement, will remain out of reach.”
He hailed those member countries that made “considerable” progress in building out the clean energy industry and creating the right enabling environment for the creation of green energy and energy efficiency.
Cox said: “All 15 member states have either adopted a national energy policy or have a draft policy that is in an advanced stage of development under consideration. The majority have been setting increasingly ambitious domestic targets for renewable energy use and energy efficiency.”
But he quickly pointed out that a significant number of policies were becoming outdated as a range of disruptions including climate change issues, lack of finance and technological advancements were outpacing the revisions that were necessary to meet the desired needs.
“On the other hand, the gap between policy and regulations continues to be significant and many countries suffer from an absence of legal certainty that often times deter investments action to promote sustainable energy,” he said.
Cox expressed disappointment that after an agreement between regional energy ministers some eight years ago, only three member states had the necessary laws in place to support grid interconnection.
“Countries have frequently failed too, to negotiate contracts and agreements including power purchase agreements that are linked to current and future progressive utility business models,” he added, declaring that having policies and regulations in place was simply not enough.
The CARICOM assistant secretary-general said: “There is seeming inability of member states to effectively identify and develop the transformative projects along with the concomitant commercial partnerships that are necessary for the CARICOM energy revolution.
“Nothing short of an aggressive and disruptive turnaround is required to move our countries from their current states of inefficiency and dependence on the mostly expensive imported petroleum fuels to a future in which energy is sustainably managed through cost-effective, efficient conversion, delivering use of diverse sources of energy, including indigenous sources.”
Barbados is one CARICOM member state that already has laws in place and measures relating to power purchase agreements and grid interconnectivity.
Bridgetown has one of the more ambitious renewable energy goals in the region, with the aim of getting all its energy from 100 per cent renewable energy sources by 2030.
Joseph Williams, Coordinator for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), agreed there was a need for countries to “intensify” their efforts and “emphasize some areas”.
Describing the PPF as an important step in helping the region to ratchet up its efforts towards becoming 100 per cent renewable energy reliant, he said too often projects have been deemed difficult to finance due to a lack of preparation and other factors.
Williams said it was important that the project would generate enough revenue to repay the loan, adding that the issue of environmental and social impact was also critical.
“I have found that for large projects it is important to pay attention to the environmental and social dimension,” he said. “That is critical to the bank… Those are things I think have not been addressed sufficiently over time. As we face constraints it means more attention will have to be paid to these aspects.”
The CDB official also called for greater emphasis on regulation to create clarity and certainty. (MM)