Renewables to Become the Norm for the Caribbean

A wind farm in Curacao. Caribbean nations such as Jamaica are
the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and many are
embracing renewable energy. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
KINGSTON, Apr 29 2019 (IPS)

Jamaica and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are
embracing renewable energy as part of their plans to become
decarbonised in the coming decades.

The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, has committed the
island nation to transitioning to 50 percent renewable energy by

“I believe that we can do better. Jamaica has sunshine all
year round and strong winds in certain parts of the island,”
Holness said.

Solar Head of State
, a nonprofit that helps world leaders become green
leaders by installing solar panels on government buildings, has
been assisting Jamaica and other Caribbean countries with their
renewable energy transition.

James Ellsmoor, the group’s Director and Co-Founder, said they
partnered with the Jamaica’s government to install and commission
a state-of-the-art solar photovoltaic (PV) array at
Jamaica House—the Office of the Prime Minister.

“Following similar installations by the President of the
Maldives and Governor-General of Saint Lucia, Jamaica’s prominent
adoption of solar, sets an example for other nations around the
world that renewable energy can make a global impact,” Ellsmoor
told IPS.

“While island nations such as Jamaica are the most vulnerable
to the effects of climate change, this project is a reminder that
they are also leading in finding solutions.”

Holness heralded the solar installation on his office as
emblematic of the clean energy technologies that must be deployed
by Caribbean nations to decarbonise economies, reduce regional
fossil fuel use, and combat climate change.

“I have directed the government to increase our target from 30
percent to 50 percent, and our energy company is totally in
agreement. So, I believe that by 2030, Jamaica will be producing
more than 50 percent of its electricity from renewables.”

The installation of the state-of-the-art solar photovoltaic (PV)
array at Jamaica House—the Office of the Prime Minister.
Courtesy: Solar Head of State

Peter Ruddock, manager of renewable energy and energy efficiency
at the state-owned Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, hailed the
prime minister’s decision as a step in the right direction.

“We do have to look at our indigenous sources—the wind, the
sun—it shows good leadership for the Office of the Prime Minister
to be outfitted with solar panels, which will reduce their
consumption,” Ruddock said.

Due to a historic lack of diversification of energy resources,
Jamaica has been heavily reliant on imported fossils fuels,
resulting in CO2 emissions and high electricity prices that are up
to four times higher than the United States.

Caribbean nations are also vulnerable to hurricanes and extreme
weather. Renewable energy increases islands’
resilience—stabilising electricity supply in the wake of natural

“We emit negligible greenhouse gases but when the impact comes
we are most impacted,” Una May Gordon, Jamaica’s Director for
Climate Change, told IPS.

“The prime minister believes in what we are doing. He believes
that renewable energy has a role and a place in the Jamaica energy
mix. A commitment has been made for transformation.

“We are building the resilience of the country. We have to
transform a number of our production processes and the only way to
do that is with renewables,” Gordon added.

SHOS believes the region’s youth can play a vital role in the
climate change fight and has also conducted a solar challenge in
partnership with Jamaica-based youth groups, which invited young
people from across the island to create innovative communications
projects to tell their communities about the benefits of renewable

On the heels of a successful programme in Jamaica, SHOS is
collaborating with the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN)
to launch the Guyana Solar Challenge—a national competition in
Guyana to engage and educate youth nationwide about the benefits of
renewable energy.

“With our partners at CYEN we will run a Solar Challenge in
every Caribbean country to educate young people about the benefits
of renewable energy for their communities,” Ellsmoor told

“The economic and environmental conditions for the Caribbean
are very specific to the region and often information coming from
outside the region does not represent that. Launching this
challenge in Guyana is particularly important as the country starts
its journey into petroleum, and we want to show that the best
opportunity is to invest these new funds into the sustainable
development of the economy, and renewable energy is central to
that,” he said.

The Guyana Solar Challenge is open to young people between 12
and 26 years of age. Competitors are asked to harness their
creative energies (in any form such as a song/video, art
installation, performance piece, viral meme, sculpture) towards
raising awareness about renewable energy, specifically its
potential to deliver long-term economic benefits, reduce harmful
environmental impacts, and increase energy security and
independence for Guyana. Winning projects will demonstrate
creativity and an ability to educate the public about the specific
benefits of solar energy for Guyana.

Sandra Britton, Renewable Energy Liaison at Guyana’s
Department of Environment said she’s happy that young people are
now taking the initiative to share the concept of renewable energy
and to promote it as Guyana transitions to a green economy.

“We have developed the Green State Development Strategy, which
will be rolled out shortly, and within the strategy it is
envisioned that Guyana will try to move towards 100 percent
renewable energy by 2040,” Britton said.

The post Renewables
to Become the Norm for the Caribbean
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Renewables to Become the Norm for the Caribbean