Renewable energy objectives set out by Caricom will become the saving grace of members states saddled with high energy cost, says to Niebert Blair, project officer with the Energy Caribbean Community Secretariat.She said benefits of those plans could yield results as early as next year, based in the organisation's Caribbean Sustainable energy targets for renewable power and energy efficiency.
The renewable energy agenda set out in the short term plan, with progress to be realised with the next ten months, includes 20 per cent renewable energy generation. Five years after that, in the medium term, the projection for development of this energy source based on calculations would be 28 per cent, with a 19 per cent hike by 2027.
Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre said laws governing the operations T&TEC and the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC) will be amended to facilitate government's renewable energy agenda.
Despite lower global energy prices, she said, energy efficiency continues to be a priority as Government is committed to a development strategy which promotes conservation and efficiency, as well as the manner in which resources are managed.
To ensure that the life of T&T's resources extends to meet the needs of future generations, a target has been set that by 2030 ten per cent of T&T's electricity generation will come from renewable sources.Blair said with importation of petroleum and related products became an even greater burden for Caricom countries, renewable energy will be an even greater priority for regional leaders.
"Energy plays a vital role in the economic development of any society. Energy is the engine for the production of goods and services across all economic sectors," she said.
"A critical issue is that the majority of Caricom countries import petroleum in high volumes, which is the chief source of primary commercial energy. Paradoxically, the majority of countries have vast renewable energy resources which remain to be developed. They are ideally suited for development of cost effective renewable energy systems, with ample wind, biomass, solar and other resources."
Blair said energy systems across the region continue to depend on expensive, imported fossil fuels, with electricity and transport sectors characterised by small volumes and inefficient fuel use which result in high energy prices.
"In essence, the confluence of the aforementioned actions will likely empower Caricom countries to transform their energy situation from their current state of inefficiency with dependence of mostly expensive, imported fossil-fuels to one in which their domestic and productive sectors are powered through cost effective, efficient indigenous sources," she said.
She said other benefits to the plan include reducing the volume of GDP while preserving foreign exchange resources spent to pay for energy imports.
Blair said in April 2008 the Caricom Secretariat embarked on the Energy Programme which is a departure from the traditional "project approach" and facilitates greater responsiveness in carrying out the energy related mandates through a harmonised approach.
"In March, 2013, Caricom member states adopted a regional energy policy. The policy called for a transformation of the energy sector in the region and identifies a number of common strategic objectives. Key among these are energy efficiency; secure energy supplies; and trade in energy, especially as this related to the impact on relative competitiveness in the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) and purchasing and transportation arrangements," she said.