Islands in the Sun!

No comments:
Current trends and lessons from history on energy development in the Caribbean

By Rebekah Shirley
Rebekah at Wigton Windfarm in Jamaica

In 2011 I graduated from the MSc program at the Energy and Resources Group and an edited version of my thesis was recently published in Energy Policy! I thought I’d share a share a short synopsis: 

Island regions represent an understudied area of clean energy development and innovation. The Caribbean region’s electricity supply sector, for instance, is currently witnessing important changes in its regulatory framework, as evidenced by recent developments in government policy and an increasing emphasis on alternative energy sources. This shift is driven largely by the fact that petroleum products are the main source of energy in the region, with 90% of commercial energy supplies being imported and with some islands spending as much as half of their export revenues on imported fuel. In my paper I examined cases of renewable energy projects in the Caribbean – the solar water heating industry in Barbados, photovoltaics in Grenada and wind energy in Jamaica. This allowed me to locate renewable energy advances in a broader historical framework of each country’s energy sector development, revealing a number of lessons.

In Grenada the electricity company is private, foreign owned, unregulated and is the only company allowed to provide or distribute electricity on the island. A cost benefit analysis also shows small solar installations to be more expensive than wholesale diesel-based electricity. This leaves no demand or economic incentive to develop new technologies and highlights the need for government involvement.

The government of Jamaica has established a state agency mandated to explore local sources of energy which constructed and owns a 30 MW wind farm on the island. However the wind farm has been plagued by financing problems, still being entirely funded by the state outside of carbon credits from the Netherlands. This highlights the need for the government to create financial incentives and security for local and foreign investors, which could be achieved by developing standardized protocol for contractual arrangements and by working with local financing institutions.

In Barbados, a locally designed and manufactured solar water heater has become largely popular, backed by government subsidy. Similar success has been difficult to achieve for electricity innovations due to the lack of legislation which allows access to the national grid.

As our cost analysis has shown, there are many scenarios in which renewable energy technologies already provide significant job and carbon reduction benefits and are competitive with current electricity costs. This potential for small scale resource development could be supported by better regulation, local investment opportunities and reduced barriers to grid integration. Articulation of such needs could help Caribbean states create focused and explicit national energy agendas and contribute to enabling regional policy.

If you are interested in more of the details I encourage you to read the full article here.  Contact me for a pdf copy or to chat about the Caribbean. Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a comment

© ERG. Design adapted from Main-Blogger Blogger Template.