C'bbean poised to be next hotbed for renewables, says IRENA official

Friday, June 26, 2015

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FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique (CMC) — A senior official of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said Wednesday that the agency is convinced of the potential that renewables present for sustainable development for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) including those in the Caribbean.

Director of the IRENA Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre, Henning Wuester, said renewable energy is abundant, scalable and replicable and every SIDS has indigenous renewable energy resources that can be harnessed and integrated in the domestic energy mix.

"As renewable energy technologies have matured, costs have come down impressively, and they continue to fall (so) for many islands renewables are now the most cost-effective energy solution," Wuester told a conference here on Island Energy Transitions.

"In addition, renewable energy development generates jobs -- so far 7.7 million worldwide -- and it enhances local value creation. Shifting from diesel to renewables for power generation will yield major cost savings, and it is possible to integrate a higher and higher share of renewables reliably into the power grid.

"Last but not least, renewables enhance energy security and help to create resilience, which is critical especially for SIDS that are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change," Wuester added.

The IRENA official said it is the dual global benefit that makes it so important to advance renewables in an island setting, especially this year.

He noted that on the one hand renewables advance development and growth of SIDS in a sustainable manner and thereby create an example for the rest of the world how to effectively mitigate climate change; while on the other hand it enhances resilience that will be desperately needed as climate impacts set in.

"Advancing on this agenda in real and practical terms will send a powerful signal to the world in the lead-up to the Paris Climate Change conference," he said.

Wuester cited the Island Lighthouse Initiative, launched at the UN Secretary General's Climate Summit in 2014, as providing a holistic framework for action to transform island energy systems supported through a platform for communication.

The number of partners of the SIDS Lighthouse Initiative continues to grow. With Belize joining recently, there are now 27 SIDS and 19 development partners.

The initiative pursues as an overall strategic objective, to enable a sustainable energy transformation for people on the front line of climate change on small islands around the world; and to enhance their energy independence and economic prosperity.

Under the Island Lighthouse Initiative, Renewables Readiness Assessments have been completed in Grenada and other islands; and are starting in Antigua and Barbuda and the Bahamas, among others.

Wuester said that based on the discussions of the last two days on what is technically possible and economically viable, the three-day conference needs to come to an action agenda that will chart a path of concrete steps for the remainder of this year up to the UN Climate Change Conference, COP21, in Paris.

"The Martinique Action Agenda that we will endorse here today will live and grow as the basis for follow-up events in Hawaii in July, in Bangkok in August, and in Cape Town in September -- all on the road to Paris in December," he said.

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