U.S. companies looking to explore clean energy opportunities in the Caribbean can count on enhanced support from U.S., Caribbean and multilateral agencies, according to discussions at today?s Caribbean Energy Security Summit in Washington, D.C.
A promise by Caribbean leaders to pursue comprehensive energy diversification programs, including actions to facilitate the introduction of cleaner forms of energy, paves the way for new opportunities that small and medium-sized enterprises may be able to exploit.
The U.S. government has expanded its technical assistance and capacity building programs to the Caribbean under initiatives such as the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas and the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI). For example, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the U.S. State Department have put in place a team charged with identifying and arranging financing for clean energy projects in the Caribbean?a clear sign of Washington?s intent to stay focused on projects that will lessen the region?s dependence on fossil fuels.
Today?s summit, hosted at the U.S. State Department by Vice President Joe Biden, is the first since the Obama administration launched the CESI in June 2014. Its importance was underscored by the presence of ten heads of state and other senior government officials from the Caribbean.
The summit highlighted ongoing efforts under the initiative, including access to finance for relevant projects. Among today?s announcements, OPIC said it will disburse the first tranche of some $43 million in financing for U.S.-based Blue Mountain Renewables? 34-megawatt wind project in Jamaica.?Construction on the project is scheduled to begin in June.
Here?s a rundown of current U.S.-backed activities to promote ?a cleaner and more secure energy future in the Caribbean? through which SMEs may enter the region?s renewable energy market:
Antigua and Barbuda. Through the State Department?s Sustainable Communities in the Caribbean and Central America project, the Organization of American States is promoting clean energy and efficiency in Antigua and Barbuda.
Dominican Republic. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has provided grant funding for three projects in the DR that will support the development of clean energy. These are:? a feasibility study and pilot project to assess the viability of modular electric generators; technical assistance to analyze new smart grid options and technologies for improving system reliability; and technical assistance to develop financial tools for commercial users to acquire solar photovoltaic power systems for self-generation.
* Through the Department of State?s Sustainable Communities in the Caribbean and Central America project, the OAS is promoting clean energy and efficiency in the Dominican Republic.
Eastern Caribbean. USAID?s support will emphasize the development of new financial tools for energy efficiency and renewables, with a particular focus on the hotel and tourism sectors.?
Haiti. Under the Haiti Energy Policy and Utility Partnership Program, funded by USAID, the U.S. Energy Association is supporting power sector reform in El Salvador, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.
* USAID?s Improved Cooking Technology Project in Haiti, which to date has resulted in more than 50,000 biomass and LPG stoves sold to reduce charcoal use, is encouraging the widespread adoption of this technology.
* USAID is working to rehabilitate a 4-megawatt power plant in Northern Haiti.
Jamaica.? The U.S. Department of Interior, together with State, is working with Jamaica to facilitate commercial renewable energy on public lands.
Saint Kitts and Nevis. The State Department is supporting technical assistance in this twin island to help develop geothermal resources. Work includes competitive procurement processes, electrical system analysis, environmental review, project management, and technical and commercial island interconnection studies.
Trinidad and Tobago. The Organization of American States (OAS), with State Department funding, is assisting in the Closed Loop Cycle Production project to promote cleaner production methods among small businesses.
* The Energy Department is providing technical support to the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs to design and carry out a Caribbean-wide Regional Energy Research Center.
Region-wide. Through the State Department-funded Caribbean Sustainable Energy Capacity Building Project, the Organization of American States is providing project development support to Caribbean governments and utilities for sustainable energy projects.
* USAID will support a multi-year regional Caribbean program to promote energy efficiency and integration of renewables into island energy grids. The Jamaica Clean Energy Program, which will be the largest portion of the overall effort, aims to establish the pre-conditions for clean energy development, optimize renewable energy integration, and accelerate private-sector clean energy investment.
* The Energy Department, OPIC, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are developing the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CHEER) Program.?CHEER will provide technical assistance, training, and attractive financing to hotels that commit to reduce their energy and water footprints through efficiency and renewable technology solutions.
* The Peace Corps, together with the State Department, is increasing access to environmentally friendly energy technologies as well as educating communities on conservation, climate mitigation, and adaptation, in countries where it is present.
* The State Department, through the OAS, is catalyzing regional technical cooperation on renewable energy, air quality and greenhouse gas measurements through the Inter-American Metrology System.
In March, the Department of Energy, in partnership with the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Caribbean-Central American Action, will host the Caribbean Clean Energy Technology Symposium in St. Thomas, USVI. The symposium will be the first in a series of regional gatherings to set concrete goals, share best practices, and address implementation strategies for clean energy adoption.
According to a White House press release, working groups will create networks to address Caribbean clean energy issues, including energy education, efficiency, renewable energy and electricity diversification, and climate change. To facilitate the implementation of CESI elements in a specific island setting, the Energy Department will publish outcomes of the symposium in ?Energy Transition: Islands Playbook,? with a focus on improving energy security, boosting economic growth, and advancing environmental sustainability across the region.?