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IFC promotes sustainable energy oppportunities in the Caribbean


IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is helping reduce energy costs in the Caribbean by supporting regulatory reforms that promote clean energy and by helping local banks provide the finance needed to develop sustainable energy sources. This program is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada.


As part of the program, IFC is co-hosting Caribbean Tourism: The Energy Forum, the first regional event to focus on lowering the electricity bill for the Caribbean’s hospitality sector. The forum, held in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic from Dec. 10-11, convenes global experts to share expertise in energy efficiency and renewable energy for the Caribbean’s tourism industry.


More than 97 percent of electricity in the Caribbean is generated from fossil fuels. With rates averaging US$0.30 per kWh, electricity bills can soar two to three times higher than in other parts of Latin America. Reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and supporting cleaner, more efficient energy production is critical to helping island economies grow sustainably. There is potential for renewable energy, but many Caribbean countries lack the regulatory frameworks and know-how to support it. In addition, businesses face formidable hurdles in accessing credit to invest in clean energy.


IFC is helping energy service companies and equipment vendors understand how to structure projects for financing. IFC is also building the capacity of local financial institutions to identify sustainable energy projects and meet their financing needs. In the Dominican Republic, for example, Banco BHD has an active line of credit with IFC to finance sustainable energy projects and also received advisory services.


“Banco BHD has identified sustainable energy finance as a strategic business opportunity,” said Steven Puig, General Manager of Banco BHD in Santo Domingo. “We have been very pleased that IFC’s know-how and long term funding have facilitated our leadership in bringing cost-efficient and cleaner energy solutions to the Dominican Republic.”


Several Caribbean countries are taking steps toward a more sustainable energy matrix. Barbados is promoting solar energy while Jamaica has implemented energy audits for better efficiency in the hotel industry. Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts & Nevis are working on regulatory reforms to shield themselves from volatile oil markets.


“High energy rates have long been the Caribbean’s Achilles heel; many countries allocate a significant part of their budget to importing energy. At the same time, they are vulnerable to the environmental impacts associated with fossil-fuel consumption, such as air pollution, rising sea levels, and coral bleaching,” said Jun Zhang, IFC Senior Manager for the Caribbean. “Transforming energy use is critical to their economic future and environmental sustainability.”


Category/ies:News, Regional News.
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