Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Clean Energy Initiatives Announced at US-CARICOM Summit

9 April 2015: US President Barack Obama and leaders from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met in Kingston, Jamaica, for a US-CARICOM Summit that focused largely on energy security, affordable energy and climate change mitigation. In conjunction with the Summit, the US announced increased support for the Caribbean through a number of energy and climate initiatives.

In his remarks to the Summit, held 9 April 2015, Obama noted Caribbean countries' particular vulnerability to climate change and especially high costs of energy. Caribbean States, which rely greatly on imported fuel, will take part in an Energy Security Task Force alongside the US and Central American countries to work on energy sector reform, regional integration and clean energy development, according to the White House.

To aid in the goal of developing clean sources of energy, the US announced it will launch a Clean Energy Finance Facility for the Caribbean and Central America (CEFF-CCA). The US$20 million facility will provide early stage financing, in hopes of catalyzing additional sources of public and private sector investment. The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will coordinate the Facility, with the support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Department of State. According to OPIC, the CEFF-CCA mirrors a similar programme designed for Africa - the US-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (ACEF).

OPIC, which formed a dedicated financing and insurance team for the Caribbean renewable energy sector in January 2015, is financing a 36-megawatt (MW) wind farm and is planning to finance a 20-MW solar farm, both in Jamaica. OPIC is also focusing on greening tourism, the region's largest energy user. The Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CHEER) initiative, in partnership with the US Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, looks to improve energy and water efficiency and share best practices in the hotel and tourism industry. USAID will complement the project with energy efficiency and renewables financial tools for the Eastern Caribbean.

USAID is also undertaking a Clean Energy Program with the Government of Jamaica and the private sector "to establish the pre-conditions for clean energy development, optimize renewable energy integration, and accelerate private-sector clean energy investment." The Department of Energy is releasing the 'Energy Scenario Planning Tool,' a publication intended to help all island communities reach similar goals. The Tool builds on the Department's earlier 'Energy Transitions: Island Playbook.'

Leaders at the Summit also addressed the underlying technology needed to advance renewables and energy efficiency, with the US Department of Energy and Jamaican Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining signing a statement of intent to cooperate on sustainable energy innovation, in such areas as: energy conservation, energy infrastructure, micro grids and energy storage, fuel diversification, and energy policy. [White House Fact Sheet] [CARICOM Press Release] [OPIC Press Release] More