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Cost of electricity undermining Caribbean economic growth

Dominica, Carribean (source: flickr/ kreyten, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 27 Oct 2013

The high cost of electricity is undermining economic growth in the Caribbean region, so officials from the region at a recent renewable conference. Renewable Energy is a key in the future energy scenario, with geothermal being possibly one important element.

At the recent Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF) held in Aruba October 9-11th. Over 425 delegates- Energy Ministers and Utility officials- from 42 countries were in attendance, including representatives from 20 Caribbean territories.

“The high cost of electricity is undermining economic growth in the Caribbean region”, says Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin.

Ramdin advised the Caribbean officials to explore renewable energy sources in order to address high energy costs. He said the effect on the cost of almost all goods and services is high, ultimately undermining economic growth and investments; however decision makers seemed to not be embracing the idea of going green for their energy needs.

“The Caribbean is capable of solving some of its own problems in this sector. Sun, heat, water and wind, all offer opportunities. In spite of this, renewable energy does not appear to feature prominently on the priority list of many of our policy makers,” he said.

The OAS Executive called for regional collaboration to promote greater use of renewable technology in the Caribbean. He said there appears to be a “disconnect between understanding that renewable energy technology will facilitate less dependence on traditional sources of energy and fossil fuels…and the ability to implement and pursue a renewable energy agenda”.

Ramdin encouraged policymakers to utilize the expertise and financial assistance available in order to establish renewable energy projects.

Other presenters at the event included Energy experts from the US and other countries along with financiers and renewable energy equipment providers. The esteemed list included Lynn Tabernacki, Managing Director- Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development, OPIC- USA; Miguel Toledo, Principal Investment Officer, International Finance Corporation (IFC); Dr. Carl Kukkonen, CEO & Co-Founder, Viaspace- USA; Adam Warren, Group Manager, Project Development & Finance, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)- USA; Migara Jayawardena, Senior Energy Specialist, World Bank; and Ernie StapletonPermanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Utilities and Renewable Energy in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA).

With the price of oil continuing to trend upwards experts posit that the Caribbean, with almost no fossil fuel sources, needs to pursue renewable transactions and projects.

Against this backdrop, St. Kitts and Nevis has made significant strides in confronting its energy challenges- the Nevis government is still pursuing geothermal exploration while St. Kitts recently opened a solar energy farm.

As an incentive for persons to acquire energy efficient technology the federal government has removed Customs Duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) on the importation of renewable energy products.”

Source: The St. Kitts and Nevis Observer