ECPA Initiative to Promote Regional Approach to Sustainable Energy in the Caribbean Basin Draws to Conclusion

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Shirley Heights National Park, photo credits: OAS

In 2010, the Organization of American States started implementing an ECPA initiative aimed at supporting energy integration in the Caribbean. The initiative fostered regional dialogue on the technical and policy aspects of integration. Legal and technical support was provided to governments seeking to advance sustainable energy solutions, and six pilot projects to demonstrate their feasibility were deployed.

The Organization of American States recently concluded its implementation of the ECPA Caribbean initiative, which included the deployment of three small-scale solar photovoltaic projects in the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

In Dominica, the ECPA Caribbean initiative built the capacity of the government in geothermal development though intensive training imparted at the University of Nevada in the United States. Dominica’s energy officials acquired technical skills and expertise on geothermal energy exploitation and development. In Grenada, the OAS provided legal assistance geared toward designing a geothermal bill­­—a key component of the island nation’s geothermal program. Additionally, the OAS supported negotiations between the government and the country’s electricity utility GRENLEC seeking to establish a favorable market conditions for the advancement of sustainable energy projects. Issues such as resource ownership and responsibility vis-à-vis energy operations were reviewed in detail. In Jamaica, the OAS provided technical assistance focused on wind energy development for water irrigation. The purpose of this work was to provide farmers in Saint Elizabeth Parish with low-cost irrigation water provided by means of wind energy. This landmark project largely depends upon the enforcement of the country’s newly proposed power wheeling structure currently under consideration by the country’s Ministry of Energy and other key stakeholders.

Hand-over ceremony of the 10kWp Solar Hybrid PV system installed on the Government Main Building in Kingstown, SVG.

At the regional level, this OAS-implemented ECPA initiative facilitated a sustained dialogue among key decision makers in the region to address common challenges such as the need to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. The potential for inter-island electricity interconnection was visited as an option that would enable the deployment of mid- and large-scale renewable energy projects, especially geothermal. Laying submarine cables to create larger electricity markets would make these projects cost-effective. In this regard, the potential for an interconnection between the island of Saint Kitts and Nevis and Puerto Rico was specifically assessed. ECPA and the OAS will continue working in the Caribbean with the goal of supporting the governments and the private sector in their efforts to advance renewable energy solutions that will provide the people of the Caribbean with cheaper electricity.