Barbados and other borrowing member countries of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) could soon have greater access to funds from that financial institution to ramp up their renewable energy transition.
President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Gene Leon made the announcement on Wednesday as he issued a call for regional governments to take urgent steps to quickly phase out the use of fossil fuel.
He argued that the region’s high dependence on imported fossil fuel and the associated high cost of electricity has been “stifling” the pace of growth and development in the region including poverty reduction efforts and remains a continued threat to the attainment of the sustainable development goals.
“There is a dire and urgent need to accelerate the transition to increase renewable energy generation, utilising our abundant solar, wind, hydro and geothermal resources. While doing so we need to ensure that the transition is managed to minimise the potential negative effects of disruption and to ensure that it is just, it is not a zero–one – fossil fuels today and 100 per cent renewables tomorrow. The cost of disruption cannot be ignored and therefore the pace at which we make that transition has to be an essential element of that development agenda that we are talking about,” he said.
He said based on initial estimates by the CDB, the scale of sustainable development envisaged for the region would require investment of “upwards of US$100 billion” over the next decade, with sustainable energy projects alone accounting for about US$40 billion.
Leon was addressing the opening ceremony of the CDB’s 52nd annual meeting on Wednesday, which is being held in the Turks and Caicos Islands under the theme Measure Better to Target Better: Adaptation and Resilience.
The CDB president indicated that the agreed target at the level of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for a 47 per cent contribution from renewable energy sources by 2027 was lagging.
Noting that this target equates to about 55 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2030, Leon said “On an annual basis our renewable energy penetration rate will need to increase 13-fold if we are to achieve the target of 55 per cent target by 2030.
“Therefore, there is a tremendous amount of work that needs to go forward.”
However, Dr Leon gave the assurance that officials at the CDB were in the process of updating the energy sector policy of the financing institution so it could better assist countries in accelerating their renewable energy goals.
“At the bank, we are updating our energy sector policy and strategy and have proposed to embed within it, a framework called the Accelerator Sustainable Energy and Resilience Transition 2030 (ASERT),” he said.
“You will be hearing from CDB when we talk about the ASERT initiative one and ASERT initiative two. That is all about accelerating the sustainable energy framework. That is intended to support our borrowing member countries as they urgently ramp up their energy sector transitions,” he said, though not providing a timeline for the availability of this initiative.
He also warned of the need for oil-producing nations in the region including Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad, to also make the transition to renewable energy sources.
“Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. Over the last decade the region has been pursuing a shift towards sustainable energy through the increased use of renewable energy sources and improvements in energy efficiency,” he said.
Barbados is aiming to become 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy sources by 2030. According to the implementation plan of the revised National Energy Policy 2019-2030, the estimated cost of achieving this target is about $4 billion.
While Bridgetown is believed to be ahead of many of its regional counterparts when it comes to the build out of the renewable energy sector, the island is slightly behind its own energy targets under the revised policy.
Up to 2020, Barbados was said to have some 52 megawatt (MW) of installed photovoltaic (PV) systems and about 5 MW of storage capacity and just over 350 electric vehicles on the road. Overall, the island was at about 20 per cent of its renewable energy target.
It was estimated that by 2020 the island should have achieved closer to 40 per cent renewable energy penetration. (MM)