CARICOM Energy Month launches with focus on Energy Finance, Technology, and Capacity
News > The Caribbean
By STEM Caribbean | Posted on November 7, 2020
November 2020 marks the fifth observance of CARICOM Energy Month (CEM). On Monday this week, a group of regional and global entities launched the annual month-long observation with a virtual panel discussion and live Q&A session. The theme this year is ‘A Resilient Community: Energy at the Centre’.
To hold this event, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat’s Energy Unit collaborated with the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE); the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC); the European Union (EU); and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) funded Technical Assistance Programme for Sustainable Energy in the Caribbean (TAPSEC).
Mr. Joseph Cox, CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration, opened the event with a message pointing out that energy was central to building a prosperous and resilient Caribbean Community. In his message, he also highlighted the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Caribbean Community and the region’s energy sector, which saw a considerable decrease in the use of electricity and transportation fuels.
Tobagonian media personality Ms. Davia Chambers hosted the virtual discussion with a panel of regional experts in energy, finance, and policy. During the event, one of the panelists, Dr. Devon Gardner, who is currently the CARICOM Energy Programme Manager, highlighted the region’s renewable energy goal of 40% usage by 2030. He also mentioned that in 2010, 6% of the energy used in CARICOM was renewable energy. In 2020, this usage increased to 12.3%.
Dr. Gardner further discussed that to achieve the region’s renewable energy targets, it’s necessary to improve policies and regulations while also increasing financing opportunities from public and private financiers.
When asked a question about equity capital in the region, Dr. Gardner responded by saying that there’s enough equity capital in the region to achieve the region’s target and that capital was not an issue. He noted that the issue lies in the terms and conditions associated with risk management and interest. Also, he highlighted that to achieve 3.5 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy by 2030, between US$12billion and US$15billion was required.
Another panelist at the virtual launch event was Ms. Angella Rainford, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Soleco and Rekamniar Frontier Ventures, two regional renewable energy-focused companies.
Ms. Rainford focused on finance and highlighted how the possibilities of extreme weather conditions could affect investors’ decisions on renewable energy projects due to the risks associated with these events. Another point she highlighted was the cost of getting insurance for such projects, which could affect the projects’ execution. Rainford believes that creating regulatory frameworks to encourage investments in the renewable energy sector.
Professor Sharma of the UWI St Augustine’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department was also a part of the discussion. He discussed renewable energy technology and how energy is connected to a country’s development and the human development index.
The fourth panelist was Ms. Griffith Tang-How, Customer Solutions Director at Barbados Light and Power Company Limited, who noted the National Energy Policy of Barbados, which targets 100% renewable energy by 2030. Ms. Tang-How further noted that Barbados currently has 117 megawatts of renewable energy and 50 Megawatts of this energy is solar energy.
The virtual event ended with a live Q&A session. Following this event will be several activities including trainings throughout the rest of the month. On the list of activities is a roundtable for young people where the future of energy will be discussed, and participants from across the region will share their vision for the energy sector.
Another activity carded for the month is a weekly showcase of two ‘energy personalities’ who made significant contributions to the region’s energy sector and highlight their advancements through academia, the public or private sector, civil society, or youth.
For more information on the upcoming events, visit https://energy.caricom.org/events/.