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A Green Economy By 2030: The Caribbean’s Commitment To Renewable Energy
By admin February 19, 2019

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The top ten contributing countries to Global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions account for 72 percent of total emissions versus the bottom one hundred, who emit under 3 percent. However, the consequences affect all in the form of global warming, giving moral incentive to take the lead in renewable energy. The Caribbean is a prime example of this, with many of the islands falling in the lower end of the GHG spectrum yet they are growing increasingly vulnerable to damage as a result of natural disasters and extreme weather.

Jamaica, in particular, is responsible for 0.02 percent of global GHG emissions, yet they are becoming a shining example of how the Caribbean can demonstrate leadership in the field of sustainability and renewable energy. In October 2018, the Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, revealed ambitions for the country to reach 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. This was announced alongside government commissioning of a mass installation of solar PV panels on government buildings and showed a considerable increase from the official policy goal of 30 percent renewable energy. In fact, since then, World Watch reports indicate that Jamaica’s renewable energy potential is extremely high, and that between solar and wind energy, renewables can “reliably meet more than 90 percent of Jamaica’s electricity demand while lowering energy costs” within the same timeframe.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Jamaica’s most innovative sustainability projects have been shaped by its commitment to renewable energy and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Beginning in 2004 with the installation of a 62.7megawatt (MW) wind farm, the largest in the English-speaking Caribbean, the Jamaican economy gained a number of construction and engineering jobs, as well as new levels of international recognition. The Inter-American Development Bank even ran a Resource Assessment to identify renewable energy potential in the country, helping to pave the way for subsequent development projects. Fast forward to 2016, and the Content Solar Project, a 154 acre, 20MW solar PV farm was completed. This added over 400 jobs and is set to power more than 20,000 homes while reducing fuel imports by around 3 million gallons per year.

Their comprehensive national program, ‘Vision 2030 Jamaica’, focuses on energy efficiency and diversification, aiming to provide the country with a green economy. Defined as a “low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive” society, this will be made up of the following seven sectors: renewable energy, green transport, green buildings, sustainable agriculture and forests, water services, waste management and clean technologies. However, despite national policy reflecting the country’s high ambitions, Jamaica’s economy overall remains characterized by high energy intensity and low efficiency. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon across the Caribbean, as there remains a large dependence on imported oil for energy needs, making high energy prices not only the norm, but a burden on currency reserves and GDP, which can be largely accounted for by poor transmission and distribution systems among many of the islands.

Still, Caribbean countries, including Barbados, the Caymans, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia, continue to make notable advances in sustainable development, reinforcing that a movement towards renewable energy and eco-friendly policy can truly represent a wealth of opportunity for the region. Not only can this create substantial reductions in energy costs for residents of Caribbean islands, but the benefit will also extend to businesses. In a region where tourism ranks highly in a country’s income, this cost reduction could be invaluable to its potential for economic growth. Additionally, as renewable technology grows worldwide, its installation and procurement costs continue to decrease, indicating that this could be one of the cheaper sources of energy generation in the 2020s, especially for countries with an abundance of resources to produce renewable energy. Therefore, the Caribbean has all the potential to become global renewable energy superstars, and with access to the right policy and funding, could achieve their green economy goals.

 

For more information:

6 Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs Lighting Up Jamaica

Jamaican PM reveals personal ambition for 50% renewables by 2030

Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap

The Global Transition to Renewable Energy — Can the Caribbean Lead the Way?

The Status of Renewable Energy in the Caribbean: Ten Years of Island Innovation

UNDP Report: Energy and Transport in the Context of a Green Economy


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