CARICOM can become renewable energy hub

President Ali tells ISA Fourth Meeting of the Regional Committee of LAC

Guyana’s Head of State, His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has proposed a number of key questions for consideration by regional energy ministers and other stakeholders to develop a concrete plan that will see the transition to renewable energy use in an environmentally sustainable and economically viable manner. 

Dr. Ali was today addressing the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Fourth Meeting of the Regional Committee of the Latin America and Caribbean Region being hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal. 

The meeting was officially launched on Wednesday evening by Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, who holds responsibility for the energy sector. 

Dr. Ali said the meeting is being held against the backdrop of transitions at the global, regional and national levels, to renewable energy sources.

“Transition means that there is a gap that needs to be filled and what fills that gap is a question that we must answer. How do we fill that gap? What is the cost of filling the gap? What is the most sustainable way of filling that gap until the world can transition to the position you want it to be?” the President questioned.

His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana

The Head of State reminded those in attendance that transitioning to renewable energy sources is not a ‘cheap’ process, pointing out that the Caribbean region has not mastered the technology and is yet to demonstrate the financial and economic viability of a singular transition application that is sustainable in the long-term.

He said there are also a number of pertinent questions that must also be considered as it relates specifically to solar energy.

“Where is the supply of batteries coming from? What is the replacement cost of the batteries? What is the environmental damage in dumping those batteries? And how do we work on recycling those batteries? What will be those challenges when it comes, for us? Let us use these forums to advance those discussions.”

Discussions, the President posited, need to be holistic, otherwise, long-term solutions for sustainable development and energy supply would not be realised.

Turning his attention to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), President Ali said there are a number of natural assets that must be utilised to ensure the necessary funds are acquired for the realisation of the renewable energy goal.

“Let us face it, we are no way close to reaching five per cent of the adaptation and mitigation cost for the developing world, who is going to finance it? Where that financing is coming from? Loans are not the sustainable answer especially when it is variable interest rate loans.”

Policymakers must engage in frank and open discussions, he emphasised, while stating that, “If we say that we are not on a path to transition into cleaner energy and renewable energy, then we are not part of the global framework that will see and sustain livelihood on earth.”

The President added that, “No country that wants to accomplish a development path that is based on sustainability can do so without understanding that they must have a plan, an overall plan as to how we want to achieve renewable energy.”

A section of the gathering at the ISA forum hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre

Further, the Head of State said, in developing the plan as it relates to solar, leaders must be realistic and consider several factors including affordability, social good, transference of the technology, recurring costs and impact on national budgets, as well as the availability of viable economic models, among others.

The economic model, the President emphasised, must be viable at both the household and national levels. In advancing solar as the most reliable source, policymakers and other stakeholders must put forward not only the benefits, but the proposal has to be premised on a complete energy platform.

The President also highlighted that in CARICOM, there is an opportunity to create a renewable energy hub.

He said the renewable energy market in the Community is worth some US$16 billion and to achieve its renewable energy target, would require an investment of approximately US$11 billion, over the next 10 years.

CARICOM has committed that 47 per cent of its energy would come from renewable sources by 2027. This achievement would see a reduction in oil imports by 260 million barrels of oil and carbon emissions by 26 per cent.

This potential includes solar, wind, biomass, and hydrogen.

The Fourth Meeting will conclude on Friday, August 5.

Guyana’s Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar currently serves as Vice President for the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region of the ISA. 

Minister within the Ministry of Public Works and Vice President for the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region of the ISA, Deodat Indar

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