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Cayman Way Behind When it Comes to Renewable Energy

The Cayman Islands are way behind other island nations when it comes to implementing an overall renewable energy strategy for the country, even though islands such as Cayman suffer the most from climate change. This was a point of discussion highlighted by James Whittaker during his presentation entitled: Energy–The Most Important Challenge, given at the TEDx UCCI conference, held on Saturday 19 March at the UCCI campus.

Mr Whittaker joined a variety of speakers who all had a powerful message to convey to the packed audience, with the topics of energy, conservation and the environment very much an important discussion point within many of the speakers.

James Whittaker, speaker at TEDxUCCI

James Whittaker, speaker at TEDxUCCI

Lamenting that the Cayman Islands was, as of 2016, only acquiring about one per cent of its energy from renewable sources, Mr Whittaker, a Caymanian by birth with degrees in banking, accounting and international finance, and a pioneer of sustainability in the Caribbean, said that by comparison, Aruba as at 2016 will be on about 60 per cent renewable energy power, primarily via wind and solar, as well as having energy storage capabilities. He went on to say that the people of Aruba have three things which are very characteristic of all island nations for adopting renewable energy and they had nothing to do with money or economics. They had the political will to make the change, their leaders bringing together the regulators and government to make this an important issue, as well as consumer support, along with the ability to utilise the resources available to them.

Other island nations such as Hawaii and St Lucia were also embracing sustainable energy sources, but some island nations were not, he said.

“For example, my home, the Cayman Islands. As at 2016 we have about one per cent renewable energy…” he said.

He advised that he Cayman Islands was the 25th worst carbon polluter on the planet.

“Our target for renewable energy over the next two decades is 13 per cent. This is the lowest percentage of any country in the world that actually has a target,” he advised.

Climate change was really important for island nations and they tended to be on the front line of its negative effects, Mr Whittaker explained.

“In Cayman we talk about Hurricane Ivan a lot. It’s that once in a lifetime, once in a generation storm which caused billions of dollar of damage, but science tells us that in the coming years our children and our grandchildren are going to be getting many hurricane Ivans,” he said. “It’s going to become commonplace.”

Mr Whittaker, who created the GreenTech Group of companies, the only green building solutions conglomerate in the Caribbean, said that if we got a hurricane Ivan every year, every other year, every three years or every five years it would make Cayman uninsurable as a country.

“It’s going to be economically unsustainable because the country cannot just reach into its pocket every time a storm comes through,” he explained.

And worse, it won’t need to be a category five that causes the same kind of damage, it will be a category two because of climate change, he added.

The good news was that the cost of using sustainable fuels had come down dramatically in recent years, he said, with solar now 99 per cent cheaper than it was four decades ago and battery storage prices also reducing.

“Battery storage is what allows us to harness this renewable solar energy and be able to use it 24/7 – this is what’s going to set us free from fossil fuels,” he advised the TEDx UCCI audience.

Mr Whittaker ended his presentation by saying that there was a whole world out there “waiting to help us for free and we are not taking advantage of it.”

We need the political alliance; if we don’t have this, we risk nothing short of destroying our way of life, he said.


Category/ies:Articles, Cayman Islands, Cayman News, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Wind energy.
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