PM recommits to renewable energy, tells consumers change behaviour
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives.
He was speaking at the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Conference 2020.
In his address, the Prime Minister lamented the effects of the novel coronavirus which has crippled already low commodity prices. This as expressed concern that the viral respiratory illness could slow the world’s efforts to transition to cleaner energy. However, he admitted that likewise, new opportunities have presented themselves.
“Our very own Roadmap to Recovery recommends stimulating activity in the area of energy efficiency and setting ambitious targets for increased power generation from renewables.”
Dr Rowley said as people begin to return to work across the globe, the drastic reduction in energy demand will cease, though he could not describe the extent of the new normal. He quoted the International Energy Agency which is expecting a recovery of energy prices in the latter half of May 2020 and recovery in demand during May 2021.
The Prime Minister also discussed climate change which persists despite a temporary reduction in global transmissions during the quarantine period.
“As a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), and with the majority of our CARICOM neighbours also being Small Island Development States, it is our duty, as an energy leader in the Caribbean, to make responsible decisions on behalf of our citizens, and to plan for our future generations.”
Dr Rowley said Trinidad and Tobago has been privileged for many years since becoming one of the earliest global adopters of power generation from natural gas, some seventy years ago. He reminded that the local energy sector has been shielded from the volatility of global prices and threats to energy security faced by many other nations, thanks to the available natural gas.
He further noted that energy technologies are expected to bring electricity prices on par with the current average subsidized cost of electricity generated from natural gas in Trinidad and Tobago.
Some of the industries that have set aggressive targets to increase energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints include agriculture, transportation, hospitality, retail, manufacturing and construction.
Dr Rowley said local organisations have not been left behind with many moving to greener energy as he recalled that in 2016, the country joined 174 nations in signing the Paris Climate Change Agreement. He added that T&T deposited its instrument of ratification, signalling the formal commitment to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, in 2018.
“The aim of Trinidad & Tobago is to achieve a reduction in overall emissions from the three (3) sectors by 15% by 2030 from Business as Usual (BAU), which in absolute terms is an equivalent of one hundred and three million tonnes (103,000,000) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).”
He said this commitment was elaborated in the Government’s National Development Strategy “Vision 2030” under “Theme V - Placing the Environment at the Centre of Social and Economic Development”.
To this end, he noted that the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (MEEI) recently announced the winning bid for Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Projects.
“A consortium formed by Lightsource Renewable Global Development Limited (Lightsource BP), Shell Trinidad and Tobago Limited and BP Alternative Energy Trinidad and Tobago Limited submitted successful proposals for two projects. These projects will generate 92.2 MW of electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) sources at Couva; and 20 MW of electricity from solar PV sources at Trincity, at a cost that is on par with the current electricity prices in T&T.”
Additionally, he said the Renewable Energy Division (RED) at the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (MEEI) is engaged in numerous other initiatives. These initiatives range from:
- utility-scale to distributed and smaller-scale RE projects;
- education and awareness projects;
- participation in technical studies;
- and development of regional and local standards and codes.
Dr Rowley went on to state that efforts to benefit from the rapid development in hydrogen technology and policies are continuing.
Another utility-scale RE project in the works at the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries is a Waste to Energy Facility, to produce up to 10MW of electricity at the Beetham Landfill. Bids for this project are being evaluated. In terms of distributed and smaller-scale RE projects, he said the MEEI is engaging with stakeholders to review the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) policy, which would allow for grid-interconnection for renewable electricity generators in T&T.
Dr Rowley ended by calling for a change in consumer behaviour.
"As I have mentioned before, in T&T we have gotten accustomed to using our electricity quite liberally. Education and awareness projects, such as those being undertaken by the Renewable Energy Division at the MEEI, are crucial in ensuring that residential and commercial consumers, who account for approximately 45% of the country’s electricity consumption, are fully aware of the need for a necessary change in consumer behaviour, and the tools available to them to actualize this shift."
“In addition to developing awareness amongst consumers, there is also an urgent need to develop the necessary competencies amongst our local human resources to manage and support the RE and EE industry as it begins to take root in T&T.”
Initiatives being taken by the RE Division include the installation of Solar Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting in the nation’s play parks and basketball courts, the proposed installation of two electric vehicle charging stations at UDeCOTT’s Hyatt car park, and planning and hosting events for CARICOM Energy Month. The Division also engages with international bodies and local stakeholders to secure funding and expertise for projects through avenues such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (CREF) Project, and the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) Initiative.