The COVID-19 pandemic gives Caribbean countries a historic opportunity to “recover better” and accelerate their clean-energy transition to deliver long-term economic growth and create new jobs, according to a report by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).
According to The Recover Better with Sustainable Energy Guide for Caribbean Countries, the Caribbean region should utilize the pandemic response to support its transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to one powered by resilient, decentralized, clean energy. Currently, the Caribbean power sector is heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels and has some of the highest electricity costs in the world.
By investing as much as a quarter of their stimulus budgets in on-grid and off-grid renewable energy – through a combination of solar, hydro and wind – Caribbean countries could generate significant economic growth; the report estimates an annual saving of US$9 billion in fuel costs if all 31 countries in the Caribbean move to 90 percent clean energy by 2030. Further, every US dollar invested in the transition toward renewable energy will create an additional 93 US cents of additional GDP growth above “business as usual.”
Sustainable energy investment will also boost resilience and energy security – helping the region to deal with the impacts of climate change and extreme weather, which Caribbean countries are particularly vulnerable to. In addition to high electricity costs, centralized electricity systems have shown to be weak during extreme weather events with devastating effect.
“As Caribbean countries continue to respond to the impacts of COVID-19, they have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ‘Recover Better’ with sustainable energy to support greater energy resilience and security,” said Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy.
“By investing in sustainable energy, countries can use this moment to move away from a fossil fuel-based economy to one powered by clean energy that will provide cheaper electricity for consumers and help support the vital tourism industry in the region.”
In January, the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (UAE-CREF) announced that it has entered the second cycle of a three-year plan to build climate-resilient renewable energy projects in 16 Caribbean nations, successfully completing new development and funding agreements for the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guyana, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname.
These agreements cover: the building of a solar photovoltaic (PV) carport and rooftop project in the Dominican Republic; a solar PV and battery hybrid project for the village of Dondon, Haiti; a solar PV and battery hybrid plant on the island of Wakenaam, Guyana; and a solar PV and battery hybrid project is planned for Carriacou in Grenada. In Saint Kitts and Nevis, two solar PV desalination plants will be developed, while Suriname will receive a solar PV and battery hybrid plant and Trinidad and Tobago, a solar PV carport.
Fully financed by Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the leading national entity for economic development aid, UAE-CREF is a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), ADFD and Masdar, which is leading the design and implementation of the selected projects.