Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has pointed out that the high cost of energy makes the Caribbean un-competitive for business and as such regional governments must ensure that they can harness renewable sources of energy for the benefit of the people.
He was speaking on Monday at the beginning of a two-day validation workshop geared at determining the technical and institutional design of a Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREE).
Skerrit pointed out that the transformation of the energy sector from the dependence on expensive imported fossil fuels to one that is powered by clean sources of renewable energy should be a priority.
“Building capacity, resource assessment and research and development in renewable energy must be at the top of our agenda,” he said. “The consolidation of regional institutions to better service the needs of our member states is a critical component to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and to enhance energy efficiency in our region. An institution that is focused on providing training, policy advice, the mobilization of resources, and research and development would provide critical support to our countries. It is in this context that I endorse the establishment of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy.”
According to the Prime Minister one of the weaknesses of Renewable Energy (RE) initiatives and Efficient Energy initiatives (EE) in the Caribbean is the lack of projects to demonstrate the benefits.
“One of the weaknesses with EE and RE initiatives in the Caribbean is the abundance of talk, studies, policies, and recommendations but very little projects to demonstrate the benefits of RE and EE,” he noted. “Several studies that have been conducted in the Caribbean identify the lack of political will as the major barrier to the deployment of RE and EE. The lack of adequate investments in these areas has also been identified as one of the failures of regional governments. Dominica has displayed the political will and leadership to move RE and EE by its significant investments in them over the years.”
He noted further that Dominica will soon become the only small island state to export electricity indicating that this coupled with the generation of hydro electricity will allow for the transition from dependence on the importation of expensive fossil fuel.
The Prime Minister was also encouraged that Dominica could be host to the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency stating that the country has the highest percentage of Renewable Energy in its energy mix among the Caribbean countries.
The centre comes as a response to the difficult energy situation in many of the Caribbean islands.
The initiative follows up on an official request of Small Island Developing States (SIDSDOCK) to United Nations Industrial Development Agency (UNIDO) and the Austrian Government to assist in the creation of regional sustainable energy centers for SIDS in the Caribbean, Pacific, Africa and the Indian Ocean.
The proposal for creating CCREE takes place at the background of promising developments in which smal islands have adopted national renewable power generation targets and investments in renewable energy power stations, mini-grids and stand-alone systems are growing.