BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The guidelines which direct the energy investments and approach of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) are in for a refresh to meet the evolving needs of the energy sector.
On January 31, CDB brought together stakeholders from its Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) for a regional consultation workshop to give their input and perspectives on what will become the new Energy Sector Policy and Strategy (ESPS). Representatives from 12 MBCs participated in the consultation. CDB’s ESPS was last updated in 2015.
The workshop brought together a range of stakeholders working in the energy space, particularly those in the sustainable energy sector, including permanent secretaries of energy ministries, leaders and technical specialists from electrical utility companies, and representatives from other development organisations.
Director of projects at CDB, Daniel Best stated that energy insecurity remained a perennial problem for CDB’s BMCs and emphasised the bank’s focus on advancing sustainable energy solutions in the region.
“Sustainable energy, namely renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE), represent the only option that most Caribbean countries have at their disposal for reducing their dependence on imported fossil fuels, thereby increasing their energy security, as well as for reducing carbon emissions,” stated Best at the opening of the workshop.
He noted that while the bank has approved funding of US$244 million for 14 investment projects and 36 technical assistance projects in the sector since 2015, the region’s transition to sustainable energy still needed to accelerate even further.
“Notwithstanding the support provided by CDB and other financiers since 2015, the progress of the transition to greater use of renewable energy and energy efficiency remains very slow, with the region still dependent on imported fossil fuels for over 90 of its commercial energy supplies. The implication of this is that with international oil prices back to a high of $90 per barrel, the region is not in a much better position than it was in 2015, with respect to its vulnerability to the risks associated with oil price shocks. Therefore, there is an urgent need for new strategies to dislodge the continued stubborn problem of over-dependence on fossil fuels,” emphasised the Director.
He further observed that the global energy transition in the context of net-zero “provides unique prospects for most Caribbean countries to re-position their energy sectors from being characterised as a problem sector, to becoming a sector of opportunities”.
During the two-day workshop, participants reviewed the current ESPS, heard a review of ongoing regional initiatives in the energy sector and examined challenges and opportunities for BMCs linked to emerging areas such as energy storage, and marine renewable energy.
The new Energy Sector Policy and Strategy is set to be completed by end of the third quarter 2022.