BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business Co-ordinator email@example.com
CARIBBEAN Community (Caricom) energy ministers have approved an initial target of 47 per cent renewable energy contribution to total electricity generation in the region by 2027.
The ministers approved the target last week in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, at the special meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Energy. They also set 20 per cent and 28 per cent renewable energy targets for 2017 and 2022 respectively, breaking new ground in the push towards alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and bio-energy, according to the Caricom Secretariat.
Jamaica is highly dependent on imported petroleum to meet energy needs, with a little more than 90 per cent derived from imported oil and the rest from renewable sources. The country, through its national energy policy, has set a target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2030, but Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell has repeatedly expressed a desire to move the goal to 30 per cent by 2030.
Paulwell, who was travelling to Venezuela to attend the funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, was not available for comment yesterday. But the Energy Ministry told Caribbean Business Report that it is expected that the additional supply of up to 115 megawatt (MW) of electricity from renewable energy to the national grid will increase the amount of renewable energy in Jamaica's energy mix to 12.5 per cent.
The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) issued a request for proposals (RFP) on November 26, inviting interested entities to submit proposals for the supply of one or more plants of varying configurations greater than 100 kilowatt and up to 115 MW of renewable energy electricity generation to the national grid on a Build Own and Operate basis.
Jamaica's oil import bill stood at US$2.4 billion in 2011.
The initial targets set at the meeting in Trinidad were established as part of the broader Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS) which is being developed to provide an implementation framework for the sustainable energy dimension of the Caricom Energy Policy, which energy ministers approved at the meeting on 1 March.
"The Energy Policy is the lynchpin of the region's efforts to increase its energy security, sustainability and affordability. Renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency will play important roles in this endeavour," said the Caricom Secretariat in a press release.
"C-SERMS is intended to provide a more focused and sustained approach to the region's drive to significantly increase the contribution of renewable energy and to increase the level of efficiency of energy use across Caricom," added the secretariat.
CSERMS is being developed in phases with the first phase which began in 2011 and funded by the Inter-American Development Bank through a Technical Cooperation Agreement. Phase One concludes this year. The second phase begins in 2013 with support from the Government of Germany through the German Agency for International Cooperation and other agencies.
Renewable energy and energy-efficiency targets for the total energy system including transportation sector will also be developed, said the Caricom Secretariat, adding that C-SERMS is being pursued against the background of the main energy sector challenges of the region which are rooted in the high cost of energy and the overdependence on expensive imported fossil fuels.
The region's total energy bill exceeded US$14 billion in 2008.
The need for energy diversification became even more urgent following Tuesday's death of Chavez, who used Venezuela's oil wealth to aid allies through a programme that gives out petroleum at preferential terms. More than a dozen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have benefited through billions of dollars from the Petrocaribe pact that was created in 2005 with the goal of unifying the regional oil industry under Venezuelan leadership and countering US influence.