Experts meeting to discuss options for renewable energy

A three-day meeting bringing together some of the world’s leading renewable energy experts considering options for renewable energy development in the Caribbean and on the numerous islands scattered around the globe is taking place here.

Organisers say the Martinique Conference on Island Energy Transitions, being held under the theme, ‘Pathways for Accelerated Uptake of Renewables’, will provide an opportunity for an in-depth review of resource, technology, market, financing and other aspects of renewable energy development.

Government officials, companies and utilities involved in renewable energy development, banks interested in financing renewable energy development, experts in renewable energy resource assessment and development partners are participating in the three-day event that opens on Monday.

Among the regional participants at the conference are Melissa Defreitas from the Energy Office in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who will speak on the topic Partnerships for Assessment Drilling and Development of Geothermal Resources in St Vincent and the Grenadines; William Hinds, Chief Energy Conservation Officer, Office of the Prime Minister, Barbados, speaking on Integrating a High Share of Renewable Generation in Barbados; and Devon Gardner, Programme Manager, Energy, CARICOM, and Andrew Thorington of CARILEC who will both speak on Developing a Uniform Grid Integration Framework for CARICOM Countries.

The lead negotiator for the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) Barbadian, Hugh Sealy, will moderate a session of Island Renewable Energy Lighthouses.

Panelists for that session include Mike Eman, Prime Minister of Aruba; Jacques Rousseau, Minister of Public Works, Transport, Energy and Communications, Haiti; Joy Grant, Minister of Energy, Science, Technology and Public Utilities, Belize; Ian Liburd, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Post, Urban Development and Transport, St. Kitts and Nevis; and Amanda Missick, Minister of Infrastructure, Housing and Planning, Turks and Caicos Islands.

In September 2014, the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa unanimously adopted the outcome document ‘SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (S.A.M.O.A) Pathway’ which contains a strong focus on renewable energy and requests a strategy for deployment of all sources of renewable energy, development of energy roadmaps, and access to mechanisms to increase capital flows for implementation of sustainable energy projects.

The S.A.M.O.A. Pathway also urges all stakeholders to join forces in supporting Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in development and implementation of their national, regional and interregional sustainable energy plans and strategies.

Consistent with this message and the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway, the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative was launched at the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit.

Facilitated by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the Lighthouse is a joint effort of SIDS, development institutions and other partners. It is a framework for action aimed at maximising the use of indigenous, clean and plentiful renewable energy in a structured, holistic approach that takes into account medium and long-term requirements and impacts, and ensures that the requisite institutional and human capacity is in place.

Within the initial 5-year time-frame, the SIDS Lighthouse Initiative focuses on the power sector with the aim to mobilise US$500 million, deploy 100MW of new solar photovoltaic power, deploy 20MW of new wind power, deploy significant quantities of small hydropower and geothermal energy and a number marine technology projects, and ensure that all participating SIDS develop renewable energy roadmaps.

The organisers say the conference will be a milestone in the implementation of the Lighthouses goals in preparation for the COP21 and beyond. They say it will set forth an action agenda to accelerate the uptake of renewables on islands, with the view to showcasing tangible progress at COP21 in Paris and demonstrating the commitment of partners of the Lighthouses Initiative.