The Caribbean is faced with many challenges associated with generation, distribution and the use of energy. Although there is a huge availability of domestic renewable energy resources, the region remains mostly dependent on imported fossil fuels. This, in turn, gives exposure to volatile oil prices, limits the economic development of countries and degrades the local natural resources. The dependence on importation fails to develop a model for global action to alleviate log-term consequences of climate change that happens to pose a threat to SIDS and low-lying coastal nations.
However, the challenges presented are outweighed by the abundance of opportunities for sustainable energy solutions in the regions. There are many opportunities for the Caribbean region to take a leading role in developing regulatory frameworks and legislative that aids in harnessing renewable energy and energy efficiency for social, economic and environmental good.
The twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago covers an area of 5,128 km2 with a total population of 1.3 million. This counts for about 95% of the total number of inhabitants in the larger of the twin isle, Trinidad.
The exploration of fossil energy resources has been a long history in T&T with the oil industry having one of the longest historic records in the world. Additionally, T&T has become a major supplier of natural gas to the national industry and a major exporter of LNG.
In 2013, BP’s statistical review showed that T&T’s TPEC was about 842 trillion Btu in 2013 and its Natural gas consumption was approximately 92% with petroleum products under 8%.
As a result of a high energy intensive industry low energetic efficiencies and the abundance of fossil fuels being used, T&T has a high CO2 emission which is among the worlds highest for such a small island.
Nevertheless, GoRTT has taken notice to the large carbon footprint of these industries and has realized that diversification is of utmost importance. This, in turn, has prompted them to develop a Sustainable Energy Program in order to maximize the use of the islands natural resources and develop the use of renewable energy and sustainable energy and Energy Efficiency (EE). This program holds great potential for the promotion of increased investments, providing and creating high value jobs, enhancing research and development while generating increased foreign exchange and revenues.
An important element in achieving sustainable growth is the development of the country’s RE resource. The main focus is to safeguard the energy security while addressing the threat that is climate change to which SIDS are mostly vulnerable. Sustainable energy policy goes hand in hand with the support of programs to promote EE and to reduce the GHG emissions.
The objective to be achieved with the RE policy for T&T is to examine and identify every and all strategies and make recommendations for introducing RE to the local energy mix. By developing RE, this provides a greater diversity in the energy mix leading to long term energy security and sustainability of said energy supply. The promotion of energy efficiency and its implementation is essential to ensure its effectiveness. Using RE helps to mitigate the GHG emissions in a small island state and according to policy measures, recommendations should be made in order to support carbon reduction strategies. This will then guarantee optimal and efficient use of T&T’s energy resources. However, there are limitations and barriers to the development and usage of RE sources in T&T.