Caribbean nations are looking to attract as much as $30 billion of investment to expand the clean power sector and cut reliance on fossil fuels, according to the Caribbean Development Bank. “Most of our countries are highly dependent on fossil fuels for power generation,” Caribbean Development Bank president Warren Smith said in an interview to Bloomberg News in London. “This vulnerability to volatile oil prices has contributed hugely to the competitiveness challenges of Caribbean industries.” About $20 billion is needed in the next five to 10 years to replace power plants and upgrade distribution and transmission, he said. There is potential to replace 4,750MW of fossil-fuel generation with renewables through 2019, Smith said. The bank is talking with regional utilities interested in building clean energy plants to feed power into the grid. Smith also noted that the region is starting from a very low level of renewables deployment and needs policy support from governments if it is to realize this clean energy vision. For example, only two countries - Jamaica and Barbados - currently allow households and businesses generating their own power through technologies such as solar panels to sell it back to the grid, leading to a policy gap that acts as a barrier to wider investment. "The regulatory environment is a prerequisite for a major uptake of renewables," Smith says. "If you want to move to a situation where you can attract investment in renewable then you have to have the ability to sell to the grid. Right now, we are behind the eight-ball on that. But we are working with the countries to try to ensure that legislation is put in place." Sources for this post: Bloomberg New Energy Finance Week in Review; Business Green.
Two recent technical papers published by the InterAmerican Development Bank highlight the economic and societal benefits of renewable energy and energy storage technologies to Latin America and the Caribbean: Societal Benefits from Renewable Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean and Potential for Energy Storage in Combination with Renewable Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Caribbean nations, including St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands, committed last week to start replacing diesel generators, the most common means of producing electricity on islands, with renewable sources like wind, solar or geothermal.
Because diesel must be imported, the cost of electricity on the islands is generally very high, which makes renewable alternatives economically as well as environmentally attractive.
The countries signed the pact at a multiday meeting organized by the Carbon War Room, a nonprofit organization that Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, established to fight climate change. More here.
The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are attracting more clean energy investment as governments strengthen policy support and local supply chains expand, according to Climatescope 2013, a new report from the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
The LAC region captured 6% of the total $268.7 billion invested worldwide in clean energy in 2012, up from 5.7% in 2011. (For purposes of the Climatescope analysis, clean energy is defined as wind, solar, biomass, small hydro, geothermal and other renewable power generation, and biofuels.)
“The rapidly falling costs of clean technologies such as solar and wind power combined with an improved investment climate means that clean energy generation in the region is now truly affordable,” said Nancy Lee, General Manager of the MIF.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has established new targets for the incorporation of renewable energy in to the region's energy mix. The initial targets are: 20%, 28% and 47% by 2017, 2022 and 2027, respectively, for the contribution of renewable energy to total electricity generation in the region. The high cost of energy and the overdependence on expensive imported fossil fuels are contributing to the drive to adopt new clean energy technologies. It is estimated that more than 90% of the region’s commercial energy consumption comes from petroleum products, according to the announcement.