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Region aims for 10% of energy from renewable sources by 2010Region aims for 10% of energy from renewable sources by 2010

By 2010 the region as a whole is expected to have at least 10 per cent of its energy consumption met by renewable sources, according to the goal set by the Latin America and Caribbean Initiative for Sustainable Development (ILAC), a CARICOM official told a recent renewable energy development programme meeting at the CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen.

Garfield Barnwell, Director, Sustainable Development at the CARICOM Secretariat in remarks last Thursday at the opening session of the Second Project Steering Committee Meeting of the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Prog-ramme (CREDP) said that the Secretariat had developed an energy programme for the period 2009 – 2010 to increase regional co-operation in energy and address a number of critical issues, particularly  energy security and the transformation of the region towards a more sustainable energy path.

“A key output towards this goal will be to see that national energy plans are designed and implemented in such a manner to include and indeed facilitate sustainable energy practices,” Barnwell said.

In light of recent high oil and gas prices, it is important that if the region is to continue on a path of economic and social development then energy sources should be economically affordable and equitably distributed, the CARICOM Sustainable Develop-ment Director said.

On the basis of these principles, he noted that the Secretariat’s energy programme was  structured to build the foundations that could lead the region to provide its people with available, affordable, reliable and sustainable energy sources based on its indigenous resources.

He said further that it is the vision of the energy programme that through its own efforts and those done in conjunction with international development partners such as the UNDP, GTZ, IADB and the OAS, there will be a broadening of the regional energy mix so that the amount of renewable energy sources will be increased.

According to a release of his remarks made available by the Secretariat, in a study conducted for UN ECLAC by GTZ in 2004 across the Latin American and Caribbean region, the CARICOM member states with the exception of Haiti have about 4 per cent of their total energy consumption met by renewable energy sources.

“This is a major step but it is significantly below the ILAC 10 per cent target. This is in stark contrast to other countries in the region (mainly the Latin American group of countries) that have all surpassed the 10 per cent goal. As a result, a greater level of effort needs to be made by CARICOM member states if the 2010 target is to be achieved,” Barnwell asserted.

CREDP is but one activity under the Secretariat’s energy programme which is moving towards a sustainable energy path.

And the efforts of the past four years, Barnwell said further,  “have brought about an increased awareness of the work that needs to be done if we are serious about increasing the use of renewable energy.”

Renewable energy projects
He also observed that questions are being asked and responses demanded by the region’s people, policy makers and businessmen of its technicians and technocrats as to how renewables can be integrated in a sustainable manner into the society. Additionally, he added,  investors are increasingly showing a willingness to look at renewable energy projects and more utility companies are willing to integrate these into the energy generation mix.

But while this change is indeed welcome, there is still much work to be done, Barnwell acknowledged.

He referred also to the  25th Special Meeting of COTED (Environment), held in Georgetown from April 14 – 18 this year when  an initiative was announced and endorsed for the preparation of a regional climate change strategy.

“This strategy will include adaptation and mitigation measures as these are both important to the region,” Barnwell said.

The mitigation measures will focus in part on reducing the region’s dependence on fossil fuels and will coincide with the efforts of the regional energy policy, thereby creating a synergy in the efforts that are to be made towards a sustainable energy path for the Region.

And the remaining period for the implementation of CREDP/UNDP component of this project will continue to focus on assisting developers of renewable energy projects to bring those projects to a stage where they can obtain financial backing.

Legislation

Additionally, Barnwell pointed out, assistance  will be provided to countries to improve the legislative framework for the management of the energy sector.

He said further that these tasks will be facilitated while working alongside other initiatives being undertaken by the GTZ component of CREDP Phase II. An important addition to Phase II is the inclusion of energy conservation which is a means to obtain direct gains to the consumer and the national economy.

Another initiative in this area is the sustainable energy and climate change initiative of the Inter-American Development Bank to expand the development and use of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency technologies and practices, and carbon finance in the region, as well promote and finance climate change adaptation strategies that could contribute to reducing the region’s climate vulnerability.

The CARICOM Secretariat is also working closely with the IDB to develop collaborative arrangements to make the best use of this initiative in the region, Barnwell noted.



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