A proposal from an independent multidisciplinary team has presented a strategy for developing a wind industry in T&T covering the period until 2035.
The study undertaken between September 2022 and April 2023 was compiled by Nikos Sakellariou, Stephen Badrie, Dale Ramlakhan, Sanja Simmonds, Randy Ramadhar Singh and Sarah Hosein.
The report, which was made public last week, noted that achieving 2 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity by 2035 would require investments of more than US$7 to US8 billion and can be achieved with the involvement of investors and the commercial banking sector or development finance institutions.
The proposal’s aim is to create a sustainable energy future for the country while promoting growth and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, outlining that success will depend on the active collaboration of stakeholders, namely the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, Ministry of Public Utilities, Ministry of Planning and Development, the Ministry of Legal Affairs, State agencies and technocrats, funding agencies and developers, financial institutions and, crucially, the private sector.
Further, the study said the Government will play a critical role in facilitating the development of the wind industry by promulgating a vision for wind; amending and enacting laws and regulations supporting a policy framework that promotes growth; initially providing financial and economic incentives; and establishing a transparent process for developing wind energy projects according to the best international practices.
The report builds on the work of a baseline study where an analysis of suitable locations in T&T was conducted. That study identifyed potential utility-sized windfarm sites, both onshore and offshore. These sites were identified and ranked for suitability together with an estimate of their levelised cost of electricity.
For the country to benefit from its untapped wind energy potential, a clear and transparent legal and regulatory framework should be adopted to effectively enable wind energy development.
Therefore, an assessment of the legal and regulatory framework as it pertains to wind energy was also conducted to identify gaps to help create a sustainable wind energy industry.
According to the proposal, approximately 2.75 GW of onshore wind power is expected to be available and 32 GW offshore.
In outlining how the proposal will be executed the study explained, “To achieve the target of two GW installed wind capacity by 2035, the actions proposed are time bound in sequential horizons/milestones. To build local capacities and capabilities the wind journey should start from exploiting the onshore wind energy potential and gradually move towards exploiting its offshore vast potential,” the report said.
It added that while discrete projects can be developed on an ad hoc basis, the creation of an industry that can “green” the country’s energy mix and add further value to the local petrochemical industry, must be carefully thought out, nurtured, and enabled.
Proposed legislative amendments
To develop wind energy in the country, the policy, legal and regulatory environment will need to include provisions enabling the uptake of the wind industry.
The study made several suggestions to ensure that the transition to wind power in the native power generation matrix is just, inclusive and equitable.
Regarding the legislative review process, the report said if it is determined that legislative action is necessary, then the minister should submit the proposal to the Cabinet for approval along with a request that the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs be tasked with drafting the law.
On specific legislation the study advised that while no amendments are proposed for the EMA Act however, it is suggested that the EMA integrate into its licensing and permitting process, a new regulation to the effect: “For any projects which involve the use of solar energy or wind energy for the production of electricity, the board of the EMA shall treat with these projects as priority and ensure that measured against best global practice, a timely and just decision be made for which the board will provide a comprehensive explanation to the minister within one year of the initial application for such projects.”
Pertaining to the T&TEC Act there is a recommendation for a new clause or section of the existing T&TEC Act entitled “Wind Power.”
“A standard interconnection agreement and grid code should be developed to ensure that developers are aware of the standards and regulations that govern interconnection with the national grid.
“The clauses would introduce the guarantee of interconnection, costs of interconnection, grid upgrades costs, and commitment offtake generated electricity,” the proposal further advised.
The clauses, it said, would introduce the guarantee of interconnection, costs of interconnection, grid upgrades costs, and commitment offtake generated electricity.
The study also recommended that the RIC Act should be amended to support the deployment of utility-scale wind power by consideration of a number of issues which will also be addressed in the amendments to the T&TEC Act.
The proposal added that these would include the imposing and collection of license fees; and ensuring that service providers make a sufficient return to fund essential investment.
The act should also clearly outline a transparent and accountable process on providing recommendations on license awards and monitoring and enforcing compliance with license conditions.
Pertaining to local content policy and participation, the study said to create a sustainable wind industry in T&T, special emphasis must be given to developing the local talent in all areas of the wind value chain.
Relating to financing options for wind energy projects, the study said wind projects are capital-intensive, outlining that main financing options to be investigated for the development of the wind energy sector in the country would involve for instance, blended financing, a combination of equity and non-recourse debt (project finance) or balance sheet finance.