THE Caribbean Community Caricom has placed special emphasis on the development of renewable energy in the region, a decision taken following the Second Meeting of Energy Ministers of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held in Montego Bay, St James, last week.
Manager, Caricom (Caribbean Community) Energy Programme, Joseph Williams, said the decision to move forward with some specific actions around co-operation for renewable energy is significant for Caricom countries because it is advancing their priority objective.
In an interview with JIS News, Williams pointed out that most of the Caricom member states are net importers of energy and as such, have agreed in their regional policy to put priority focus on renewable energy development.
This, he said, had been agreed at the level of ministers. "The reality though is that there are constraints (across the region) as it relates to capacities, financial resources, knowledge base, technology and that is where co-operation as a part of a bloc, especially countries that have similar challenges but are also more advanced in their own development, Caricom can benefit," he said.
He noted that Caricom also has some things to share, as small island developing states, that could be useful for some of the countries in CELAC, so it is a two-way process with significant gains to be had.
Williams described the two-day meeting at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James from as being very useful.
"For me as a representative of the Caricom Secretariat, it has been very useful. We got a good sense of what is happening in the other areas and where the opportunities are; and through the documents that have been put forward, we were able to make contribution in the interest of the Caricom member states. So, I think it was a very useful and very satisfactory meeting...and there are some tangible outputs that will form the basis for action," he informed.
In the meantime, Jamaica's Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell, while delivering the keynote address at the official opening ceremony last Friday, noted that the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region has been referred to as the new frontier in energy.
"By stint of geography, it is well suited for the development of renewable energy sources," he pointed out.
The minister said that in 2006, the LAC had approximately 11.3 GW of generating capacity from renewable energy, which grew 135 per cent to 26.6 GW last year.
"In 2012 LAC was the destination for six per cent of the world's renewable investment; a US$16 billion slice of a US$268 billion pie. The investment is set to grow, but must be nurtured and facilitated by Government policy and initiatives," he said.
Minister Paulwell noted that the growth in investment can be traced to countries with renewable energy-friendly policies, such as tax incentives, feed-in tariffs, and net billing/metering arrangements.
He also pointed out that to move to the prospect of increasing the contribution of renewable in the energy mix, in CELAC's deliberations, it must actively consider and plan carefully to realise an energy future that promotes the sustainable use of all renewable energy resources -- hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and ocean energy.