The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Caribbean Clean Energy Program (CARCEP) is assisting Caribbean nations to become more energy efficient through policies and incentives that promote low emission growth and greater public-private sector investment in clean energy development.
More than 40 representatives and experts from the Caribbean energy sector met in Barbados last week for a CARCEP Regional Smart Grid Working Group Forum aimed at developing strategies to transition power grids in the region to smart technology. Contributors included energy specialists from the Barbados Energy Division, the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and various electric utility companies, regulators, financiers, international donor organizations, and equipment suppliers.
The forum presented smart grid digital technology as a key enabler to clean energy development in the Caribbean and provided a platform for each country to share plans for upgrading their respective power networks. The exchange resulted in the outlining of fundamental strategies to advance design and implementation of country-specific smart grid systems.
In addressing the forum, USAID Mission Director Christopher Cushing said clean energy was a major priority of the U.S. Government, with billions of dollars invested in renewable energy and energy-efficient projects in the United States.
“We are also witnessing tremendous commitment globally to address this challenge,” said Cushing. “At Paris COP 21, commitments given by countries will result in renewables making up 78 percent of new power generation investment by 2030. Many countries in the Caribbean have ambitious goals for the percentage of renewable energy in the electricity sector. At the 41st Special Meeting of the Commission on Trade and Economic Development, CARICOM adopted a target of 47 percent renewable energy by 2027. Initiatives like the USAID Caribbean Clean Energy Program can play an important role if we want to meet these goals.”
The smart grid technology will deliver benefits by helping Caribbean countries increase reliability and energy efficiency, and allowing for the sustainable integration of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy into power networks.
The working group forum was preceded by a two-day training workshop on Smart Grid Modelling and Control for Island Utilities, during which USAID awarded 22 scholarships to key energy stakeholders from across the region.