CDB: Technical support, diversity critical in Caribbean’s shift to clean energy
Photo: The panel following a session titled “Caribbean Energy Leadership and the Power of Networks” Oct. 20 during CREF. From left to right are Dr. Cletus Bertin, executive director, CARILEC; Devon Gardner, programme manager, Energy, CARICOM Secretariat; Kelly Tomblin, CEO, INTREN; Tessa Williams-Robertson, head, Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency Unit, CDB; and Elizabeth Thompson, former assistant secretary general, United Nations, who moderated the discussion.
Bridgetown, Barbados – As the Caribbean makes the shift to clean energy, governments need technical support to plan for and implement new technologies. In addition, sector stakeholders could accelerate the region’s transition to renewables by building diverse partnerships and networks, and improving their engagement with the wider public. These were key themes in the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) presentations during the 2017 Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF) in Miami, Fla., Oct. 18-20.
Tessa Williams-Robertson, head of the Bank’s Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency Unit, told participants at the Utility Leaders Workshop that Caribbean governments have been focusing on improving efficiency in utility operations as they work toward reducing spending on electricity.
“In every case, governments are committed to reducing tariffs to consumers, recognising the dampening impact of high electricity costs on growth,” said Williams-Robertson. “Interventions that contribute to efficiency in utility operations are therefore welcomed, and recent reductions in the prices for lithium-ion batteries has everyone’s attention.”
She also mentioned that there were still development and planning challenges to be overcome as utilities and governments look at integrating battery storage into their electricity grids. This integration could improve the reliability of renewable energy supply, particular during periods of peak demand.
“Microgrids, the operational impacts of variable renewable energy and how battery storage may be integrated, and its potential value as direct replacement for baseload, are all being studied by several utilities and other stakeholders,” Williams-Robertson told participants. “However, guidance and technical support are needed for assessing and planning suitable solutions for individual electric grids.”
At the event ,sponsored by CDB and the government of Canada, attendees also heard about developments in battery storage and received an introduction to a roadmap that could guide them through the design and implementation of projects integrating the technology. The presentation, designed to improve utility leaders’ understanding of how and when to invest in energy storage, was commissioned by CDB through the Canadian Support to the Energy Sector in the Caribbean Fund.
The bank also participated in the panel discussion titled “Caribbean Energy Leadership and the Power of Networks.” During the session, Williams-Robertson called for diversity in partnerships and improved stakeholder engagement to drive the transformation of the Caribbean’s energy sector. She encouraged the audience to involve diverse groups in the process, including players who work outside of the sector, those in non-technical positions, and the youth, while communicating about energy in a more simple way.
While at CREF, CDB’s energy specialists held discussions with sector stakeholders, hosted delegates at their booth, and helped participants better understand how the bank supports sustainable energy projects in the Caribbean region.
CREF, now in its ninth year, is the largest annual gathering of the Caribbean energy market and brought together more than 500 representatives from academia, governments, utilities, multilateral institutions and investment companies.