Miami conferees discuss Caribbean energy resilience

Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change, Patricia Fuller, (left) and Development Bank’s Vice-President (Operations), Monica La Bennett, during the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum in Miami, Florida.
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MIAMI, Florida — Improving the resilience of the region’s energy sector, especially when it comes to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change, must be a priority for all countries in the Caribbean.

The theme of resilience was brought into focus during the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) presentations at the Nov. 7 – 9 2018 Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF).

Speaking during the opening of the Island Resiliency Action Challenge event, on Nov. 7, CDB’s Vice-President (Operations), Monica La Bennett noted that the energy sector is central to every country’s goal of achieving sustainable development and emphasised the importance of improving the resilience of the electricity grid.

“The region has identified improving the resilience of electricity systems and by extension, the energy sector, as a key component of its energy matrix transformation. Any plan for improving the resilience of our electricity systems must be seen as part of the overall strategy for building economic resilience. In fact, it must now be seen as an imperative linked to the very sustainability and survival of our region,” La Bennett said.

She noted that even as countries continue to pursue renewable energy solutions, they must seek to ensure that decisions are underpinned by careful analysis of the associated costs and benefits.

La Bennett encouraged stakeholders to make use of concessionary resources such as those available through the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund. She observed that determining the level of resilience to be incorporated and the associated investment required, will require that several areas be considered.

“Arriving at the correct answer will involve an iterative process of discovery and learning, informed by national, regional and international experiences,” La Bennett explained. “This, in turn, provides opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and sharing of information among countries. In order to ensure fair allocation of the costs to be absorbed by consumers, the right regulatory framework must be in place.”

The Island Resiliency Action Challenge was sponsored by CDB with the support of the Government of Canada through the Canadian Support to the Energy Sector in the Caribbean Fund. During the workshop, participants discussed how to improve resilience and invest scarce human and capital resources over the next 12 months, in order to create climate-resilient electricity grids.

During CREF, CDB also participated on Nov. 8 in the panel discussion, “The True Cost of Resilience.” On Nov. 9, the bank took part in “The Big Geothermal Debate,” which explored the role of geothermal energy in the region’s energy matrix.

Tessa Williams Robertson, former Head of CDB’s Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency Unit, received the CREF Industry Award for Lifetime Achievement in Energy Leadership. Conferred by New Energy Events, organizers of CREF, the award recognises leaders in the Caribbean energy sector who are making a lasting impact on resilient and renewable energy.

While at CREF, CDB’s energy specialists also held discussions with stakeholders in the sector and hosted participants at their booth, further explaining the role that the bank plays in supporting sustainable energy in the region.

CREF, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, is the largest gathering of the Caribbean’s energy market. Over 500 representatives from governments, utilities, multilateral institutions, renewable energy firms and academia attended.

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