At April 1st 2019, the projected rise in the sale of electric vehicles (EVs) was trending at number one on CARILEC’s Energy Trends to track last year. According to a February 13, 2020 report in the business section of the Wall Street Journal, “more than 1 million EVs are on U.S. roads currently, and that number is projected to rise to 20 million by 2030. The growth is not just in passenger cars but also in delivery trucks, transit buses, and school buses”.
How are these trends playing out in the Caribbean region?
On 25 June, 2020 the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) and the Energy Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat brought together over 250 stakeholders alongside regional and global experts in the energy and transportation sectors in an online discussion focused on innovation opportunities and the Caribbean reality. The call to action was “do not wait until a comprehensive plan and perfect conditions are available in order to get started on the organisation’s Regional Electric Vehicle Strategy” according to a CCREE press release on the consulation.
Supporting the call to “get started”, head of the CARICOM Energy Unit, Dr. Devon Gardner reported that CARICOM has begun the preparation of a Regional Electric Vehicle Strategy (REVS). Project implementation will continue at the same time, with a view to having relevant projects inform the strategy.
Specialists reported that within the Caribbean region, several opportunities exist to propel a transition towards wide-spread use of electric mobility, according to panelists. Sharing on the Barbados experience in implementing the Electric Bus Project where 33 electric buses are being procured, panelist Antonio Sealy said that there is tremendous value to the transport sector, through electrification of public transportation, with cost benefits to be found through fueling and maintenance, with estimated savings of BBD $2M annually for the current project. Improved comfort and commuter experiences, as well as reduced environmental impact through lessenend noise and greenhouse gas emissions were also identified as advantages.
The University of the West Indies is also supporting the electric mobility sector through their Electric Vehicle Research and Development Platform (EVRDP) and an application developed to control charging time, to avoid congestion in the electrical network.