25 March 2016: The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), Rachel Kyte, highlighted challenges to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all).
Briefing UN Member States and civil society, she also provided an update on the SE4All initiative's plans for supporting implementation of the Goal.
Kyte emphasized that Goal 7 has three “pillars,” addressing energy poverty, technological advancement, and investment in energy efficiency. Stressing the interlinked nature of the Goal, she said the first pillar, addressing energy poverty, is essential to leaving no one behind, noting that the electricity access gap undermines education, productivity and economic growth, while the gap in access to clean cooking fuels is detrimental to health and gender inequality. On technological advancement, Kyte noted the past decade's reductions in the cost and complexity of renewable energy, which makes on-shore wind, solar photo voltaic, and other technologies more competitive with fossil-based energy sources. On energy efficiency, she said greater investment has made it possible to provide basic electricity services using much less power.
Despite this positive progress, Kyte warned that global economic trends have slowed the momentum for electrification, renewables, efficiency and clean cooking. She said the global energy transition is not taking place at a sufficient pace to meet the temperature goal set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change, or the broader development goals expressed in the 2030 Agenda.
Kyte also stressed that the financial needs to achieve SDG 7, which are estimated at over US$1 trillion annually, will need to come from both private and public sectors. She highlighted the importance of small-scale, private investments to develop renewable energy in many African countries.
On the role of the SE4All initiative in supporting the achievement of SDG 7, Kyte said the Forum's 2017 meeting will assess progress and provide substance for the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF) and the UN system as a whole in its review of progress towards the SDGs. In the meantime, SE4All is developing a framework for addressing challenges faced by Member States in achieving SDG 7. Member States will have opportunities to provide input on this framework throughout May 2016, Kyte said, and the SE4All Advisory Board will consider the framework at its meeting, on 15-16 June 2016. [Event Webcast] [SE4All Website]
Earlier this year, MIT researchers were the latest in a series of analysts to raise alarm about the perceived limitations of solar PV’s continued growth. In short, these analysts propose that variable renewables will depress wholesale prices when they run, thereby limiting their own economic success.
These concerns have garnered coverage in other venues (including Vox, Greentech Media, and The Financial Times), leading observers to suggest that the future prospects for renewables may be dim.
But are these concerns really justified, or do they rely on outdated assumptions about the grid and about electricity markets? We argue that these critiques, assuming a static grid and unchanging market mechanisms, can be used to make any innovation look bad. However, more integrative assessments of a least-cost, clean, and reliable power system of the future will factor in high fractions of variable renewables, along with more-efficient markets (and usage) and new technologies to integrate these resources seamlessly and resiliently.
In this article, we argue that falling wholesale prices is a good problem to have, and that concerns about economic limitations ignore remedies available from supply-side evolution, demand-side resources, and updated market mechanisms. As the world gathers in Paris for COP21, these messages are as important as ever for charting and pursuing a low-carbon clean-energy pathway.
Understanding the “Problems”
There has been increasing concern that variable renewables such as wind and solar may face an upper limit to adoption in the U.S. grid. The argument is that large amounts of variable renewables will create excess supply concentrated at the particular times of day when they produce. The notorious “duck curve” is an example of this—the duck-like shape of a particular, daily demand curve modeled for California’s grid when the production of large amounts of solar photovoltaics (PV) is netted out.
Critics argue that this technical characteristic of variable renewables, specifically PV—a daily generation pattern that is not perfectly matched with load—can have economic consequences for all forms of generators, especially the renewable resources themselves. Large amounts of renewable resources can sell a glut of power when it’s available, offsetting production from higher-marginal-cost resources (like gas-fired power plants). Since power prices are generally set by the resources with the highest marginal cost that clear in the market, additional generation from renewables tends to lower market prices.
This “merit order effect” often decreases revenues for fossil generators. This impact has been particularly dramatic in Europe, where generation from costly-to-run thermal plants during the daily solar peak was formerly very profitable for fossil generation owners. PV has decreased energy prices so much there that the top 10 EU utilities lost half their market capitalization. However, the merit order effect also means that variable renewables themselves may also earn lower profits as their adoption rises. A common conclusion is that variable renewables can play only a modest role in power production, marginalized by declining wholesale value at higher adoption levels.
The Other Half of the Thought Experiment: Three Factors That Can Accelerate Renewable Energy Adoption
Analysts who have put forth these arguments have elaborated only the first half of a microeconomics thought experiment. The problems they hypothesize hinge upon the laws of supply and demand, but omit important aspects of both, drastically overstating the perceived “problems.” Let’s see how.
1) Supply is changing holistically, not incrementally
Many of these thought experiments consider adding just a single supply resource (often solar PV) without considering many of the other supply-side changes happening at the same time. In reality, solar PV, wind, and natural gas are all joining the supply mix in a big way at the same time; the first two are often complementary and the third is dispatchable, so together, they can do a lot to mitigate the “duck curve” often portrayed.
At the same time, retirements of uneconomic assets will provide a countervailing buoyancy to wholesale prices. For example, even though old, dirty plants often have low production costs, they may exit the market anyway due to high costs of compliance upgrades or other fixed costs that erode their profits. The resulting less-abundant supply can cause the marginal supply curve to contract in quantity, leading to higher prices and higher profits for renewables and remaining fossil generators—unless demand drops too, as it’s doing in the industrialized world.
2) Demand is increasingly flexible, not fixed
Analysts arguing that renewables’ variability will limit their growth often assume perfectly efficient wholesale markets, but unchanged retail markets and fixed demand profiles. This incomplete and asymmetrical treatment ignores the emerging capability to harness the demand side of the equation. For example, people like and respond to time-varying pricing programs, and these programs are starting to roll out at scale. The electricity demand of many appliances including electric water heaters and electric vehicles is inherently flexible without disrupting the service provided. Furthermore, new business models (from both utilities and third parties) are driving this convenient flexibility by providing seamless solutions, unobtrusively, conveniently, and without requiring customers to become part-time energy traders.
These factors together increase flexibility of demand, an important low-cost resource, and enable what is the most natural response to changing prices in an efficient market where consumers find ways to use and benefit from cheap electricity from wind and solar. In other words, as renewables reduce energy prices during certain times of day, demand flexibility allows customers to shift demand to those times, which will both reduce energy prices at other (peak) times and raise the price paid to renewables during times when they produce the most.
3) Storage makes renewables dispatchable, not variable
Storage is already a common feature of concentrating solar power (via molten salt), and becoming an increasingly common feature of solar PV. For example, the all-renewable winning bids in the latest Chilean auction for unsubsidized electricity included not just solar power as low as $65/MWh in the daytime, but also nighttime solar power—via thermal or electrical storage—for $97/MWh at night. With storage, variable renewables become dispatchable, and dispatchable renewables do not have nearly the same merit order effect as variable ones. To be sure, our recent demonstration that 13 kinds of benefits of behind-the-meter distributed storage can make batteries cost-effective does not necessarily make them competitive with the many other ways to achieve grid flexibility, but similar reasoning suggests an abundant range of options for averting the problems that narrowly constrained models imply.
Whole-System Thinking Illuminates a Path Towards Least-Cost Outcomes
Analysts arguing that renewables will economically limit their own continuing adoption generally leave out the considerations listed above—and more importantly, these arguments are built on incremental thinking, assuming that today’s grid and markets are fixed and only one thing changes (e.g., PV or wind-energy market share). A more holistic, integrative, and accurate analysis would start with the ultimate objectives (reliable, resilient, and least-cost energy services), and promote a whole-system design to get there promptly.
With this perspective in mind, the characteristics of renewable energy that have caused so much hand-wringing—variable output and near-zero marginal costs of production—simply add to the list of design considerations for a market design that rewards efficient investment. Given supply diversity, demand flexibility, and emerging technologies like storage, variable renewables are unlikely to face any practical limit to growth even under current grid paradigms and market structures.
Nothing Sacred About Existing Markets
But even if renewables do face adoption limits in current markets, there is no reason we have to keep these markets the way they are. Wholesale power markets are largely a product of historical coincidence, formed out of the paradigms of the last century in which thermal power plants competed only with each other. Modern market design that reflects the realities and changing resource mix of the 21st century grid, being pioneered in Germany already, can go a long way towards aligning incentives for least-cost resource mixes. Particularly, incorporating behind-the-meter distributed energy resources and flexible loads into energy markets—as is being done in California and New York—can bring new capabilities and a refined level of control to the grid.
An Integration Challenge?
Evolving supply, flexible demand, storage, and updated markets can remove the limits to increasing renewable energy on the grid. In a later post, we will highlight how these same levers can address the common concerns—and misunderstandings—about “integration costs” of renewable energy. For example, a much-hyped recent paper claims that high-penetration renewables must incur steeply rising integration costs. But that turns out to be an artifact of extremely restrictive assumptions in the models used, combined with an assertion that competitive harm to thermal-plant incumbents is an economic cost of the renewables that beat them.
Renewables Are Here To Stay
The “problems” with renewables often brought up by analysts may be real in isolation, but are overstated when the full range of options is considered. Indeed, these are good problems to have: they’re the natural forces of supply and demand acting to send signals to market participants to diversify resource choice, incentivize demand flexibility, and invest in storage and other emerging technologies. Arguments against wind and solar PV conclude that these resources will need greater subsidies to survive in the “duck curve” era. But instead, we can tap the latent power of supply diversity, demand flexibility, storage, and market design to level the playing field for all resources, rather than clinging to the premises of the 20th century grid. Protecting the old system is far inferior to enabling the new one so that innovation can flourish, entrepreneurs can thrive, and all options can compete fully and fairly. Source
7 December 2015: A number of major cooperative initiatives on renewable energy, energy access and energy efficiency were announced during Energy Day at the Paris Climate Change Conference. Hundreds of participants from governments, businesses and financial institutions participated in the event held as part of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) Focus on Energy.
The UN and partners launched a US$5 billion effort to expand renewable energy in Africa. The amount will come from public and highly concessional finance between 2016 and 2020, with an additional US$15 billion in leverage from the Green Climate Fund, and other bilateral and multilateral sources.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon underscored the importance of the initiative, saying, “A global energy transformation must reduce heat-trapping emissions. It also needs to ensure that we leave no one behind. Those things can only be achieved if we tackle the issues of energy access, energy efficiency, and renewable energy together as a trinity.”
The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) was launched to spur the installation of 10 gigawatts (GW) of new and additional renewable energy capacity on the continent by 2020. By 2030, the initiative aims for renewable energy installations totaling 300 GW—double the 150 GW in electricity generation from all sources in Africa today. The initiative is being led by the African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the African Group of Negotiators, the African Development Bank (ADB), the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). [UNFCCC Press Release]
The Africa Clean Energy Corridor (ACEC) announced plans for a similar corridor in West Africa. Like ACEC, which operates in East and Southern Africa, the West African Clean Energy Corridor is to serve as a platform for the accelerated deployment and scaling-up of renewable energy, helping to meet rising demand and foster Africa's economic growth without adding to global climate risks. [ACEC Brochure]
The Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA), a partnership of 36 countries and 23 institutions, aims to deliver a five-fold increase in the global installed capacity for geothermal power, and a doubling of geothermal heating, by 2030. [IRENA Press Release]
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced US$2 million in funding to kick-start a clean-energy investment initiative called the Climate Aggregation Platform (CAP). The CAP, to be launched in Spring 2016, is expected to leverage over US$100 million in co-financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and other partners to promote low-carbon energy assets and low-cost financing for these assets in developing countries. [GEF-UNDP-Climate Bonds Joint Press Release]
Saint Lucia will become the 29th island to join the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Lighthouses Initiative. To date, 18 SIDS have developed renewable energy roadmaps through the initiative, which has also facilitated US$150 million in financing and the deployment of 18 megawatts (MW) of renewable power. Starting in Africa and Latin America, the Sustainable Energy Marketplace will serve as a matchmaking platform to bring together investors with renewable energy projects. The Marketplace intends to house 100 projects by the beginning of 2016 and to mobilize US$10 billion in project financing by 2019. [Sustainable Energy Marketplace Brochure]
Other energy-related announcements at the Paris Conference include the International Solar Alliance (ISA), an initiative led by the Governments of India and France that has garnered the support of 120 countries. Among other commitments, the supporting countries express their intention to collectively mobilize more than US$1000 billion by 2030 to scale up solar energy deployment. [UNFCCC Press Release] [IISD RS News Story]
Royal Philips committed to become carbon neutral by 2020, after the company cut its carbon footprint by 40% between 2007 and 2015. Speaking at the Energy Day Summit, Eric Rondolat, Chief Executive Officer, Philips Lighting, urged leaders to set more aggressive targets, cautioning against “a potentially catastrophic rise in global temperatures.” He lauded energy efficiency as a critical goal, saying that, “Faster adoption of LED lighting, and a drive to renovate existing city infrastructure and greater use of solar-powered LED lighting would have a huge impact.” [Philips Press Release]
The LPAA is a joint undertaking of the Peruvian and French COP presidencies, the Office of the UN Secretary-General and the UNFCCC Secretariat. It is convening on the sidelines of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC. The LPAA hosted the event together with the Sustainable Energy For All (SE4All) initiative and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). [IRENA Press Release] [SE4All Press Release] [IISD RS Coverage of Energy Day] More
Green Aruba is an annual conference born in 2010 with the specific aim to place dedicated emphasis on Aruba's energy transition to 100% fuel independence.
Besides showcasing Aruba's progress and challenges to the accelerated penetration of renewables in the total energy mix, Green Aruba also exhibits the experiences and knowledge of other institutions and island nations in this field. Over the past six years, Green Aruba has evolved into a practical and valuable well-known platform within the region for the exchange of information and applied knowledge on sustainable and best practices for the shift to cleaner, more environmentally friendly energy sources and resources.
Green Aruba VI – Share Sustainability
At this year's Green Aruba conference to be held October 27th and 28th, the main theme will focus on sharing sustainability by together confronting the common barriers we face, identifying the solutions moving forward and creating the essential roadmaps to achieve our desired growth paths of the sustainability journey for our island nations.
Aruba has made remarkable progress over the years in the penetration level of renewables and/or efficiency at production level, with in 2015 reaching close to the 20% mark. With the ongoing and upcoming planned projects operational by the end of 2017, the 40% barrier will be surpassed by 2018!
With our goal to reach 100% fuel free energy production by 2020, and in order to surpass the 40% level, it is fundamental to embark on a “deep dive” into our existing energy mix. Aruba is examining cutting-edge technologies and new business models for our utility companies, all in conjunction with our RAS framework, to create a balance between Reliable and Sustainable investments. This balancing act will only be achievable if energy production costs remain Affordable for the customer base.
Local utility stakeholders together with foreign renowned institutions are preparing for this dive known as the Aruba Renewable Integration Study (ARIS), and will present their approach and concept at the upcoming conference. The ARIS will provide models that map out the road forward towards Aruba's aspiring renewable energy goals, while maintaining grid reliability and minimizing overall system costs, and can serve as a prototype or starting point for fellow island nations. More
A recent press release from Canadian-owned utility Fortis TCI, contradicting an earlier pronouncement by the Rufus Ewing-led government that the company was considering a change in part from inefficient diesel generation to renewable or green energy, has reopened debate on a number of related issues, including the cost of electricity in the TCI and the relationship between successive TCI governments and Canadian firms.
Fortis TCI headquarters in Providenciales
Fortis Inc. is the largest investor-owned gas and electric distribution utility in Canada. Its regulated utilities account for 90 percent of total assets and serve more than 2.4 million customers across Canada and in New York State and the Caribbean – Belize, Cayman Islands and the TCI.
In 2011, the government of Belize expropriated the approximately 70% ownership interest of Fortis Inc. in Belize Electricity Ltd (BEL) an integrated electric utility and the principal distributor in Belize.
Fortis still owns Belize Electric Company Limited (BECOL), a non-regulated hydroelectric generation business that operates three hydroelectric generating facilities in Belize. There is an ongoing controversy over a secret and possibly unenforceable agreement between the then government of Belize and Fortis over alleged pre-emption rights in relation to national waterways.
In 2013, in opposing a proposed $1.5 billion acquisition of CH Energy Group in New York, a local grassroots group pointed to what they say is Fortis’ poor record in dealing with projects in Belize and British Columbia and citing “misinformation and a lack of trust” on the part of Fortis.
Meanwhile, Fortis TCI has possibly the highest cost of electricity in the western hemisphere and five times higher than those charged by the closest mainland utility Florida Power and Light (FPL). Further, the company returns to its Canadian parent a profit averaging $1,000 per year per household from a customer base numbering only 9,000 consumers, which equates to more than $80 per month per household in pure profit.
Notwithstanding the extraordinarily high profit margins enjoyed by Fortis, the company is permitted to import supplies and equipment duty free and constantly upgrades its distribution system in order to lower its long term costs.
While the internal operating statements of Fortis TCI have yet to be made public, it has long been suspected that the utility uses accelerated depreciation to write off capital expenditures quickly and therefore reduce their publicly reported profits. US accounting practices require that capital equipment and assets be depreciated more closely in line with the life expectancy of the asset, reducing the annual write off and therefore showing a more accurate, and possibly higher net profit.
The latest Fortis policy on renewable energy sources puts a halt to the hope of generating power from wind energy from the prevailing trade winds or from solar panels.
Fortis defended its new position on a reported failure of German green power efforts. However, Germany is a northern European country with far less solar energy available, which in spite of huge labour costs and social benefits is now expected to raise its electricity rates to less than $0.09 per Kwh or just 1/6th the cost of Fortis power.
Fortis purchased the former assets of Provo Power Company (PPC) in 2006, three years after the PNP came to power in a 2003 by-election. At the time of the purchase, then premier Michael Misick denied any knowledge of the buyout saying he had nothing to do with the buyout and could not forecast the fate of the employees. However, the stamp duty on the purchase would have yielded the country upwards of $9 million and was subject to negotiation with the Misick government and undoubtedly Misick himself.
At the time of the buyout, PPC was charging $0.26 per Kwh and now Fortis charges an additional surcharge that almost doubles the old rate to $0.51 per Kwh.
Last year, during the first year of the newly elected Progressive National Party (PNP) government, Fortis purchased the Grand Turk power company, Turks and Caicos Utilities from an American firm.
Following the initial Fortis buyout in 2006, the Misick government, which then included current premier Dr Rufus Ewing as director of medical services, proceeded to enter into a hugely expensive and controversial healthcare contract with another Canadian company, Interhealth Canada.
Interest in the Misick connection with Canada has also been revived by some so far unconfirmed but informed reports that he may be a person of interest so far as the Canadian authorities are concerned.
Speculation that the Canadians may have had a hand in Misick’s travel back to the TCI following his recent extradition from Brazil has led to questions as to whether this was designed to protect or pursue significant political and other figures in Canada.
In fact, Canadian interest in the TCI has been around since 1917, when then Canadian prime minister Robert Borden suggested that Canada annex the islands. In 2004, Nova Scotia’s three parties voted unanimously to let the TCI join their province if they ever became part of Canada.
Similar discussions were held by former premier Misick.
As recently as last year, Canadian MP Peter Goldring wanted to revive the proposal for the TCI to join Canada, following the return of elected self-government in the territory in November 2012.
Goldring has been a consistent advocate of increased cultural and economic ties between the TCI and Canada for more than ten years but the idea was dropped when Britain imposed direct rule in 2009, following a commission of inquiry that uncovered widespread and systemic government corruption in the territory.
Goldring, who has visited the islands several times, said they would fit in nicely with the rest of Canada.
But Canada stands to gain more than simply a vacation destination from such a union, he said: “From my perspective, certainly it goes far behind sun and sand. South Caicos Island, for example, is on a deep water channel. It could be readily developed into a deep-water port, which would give Canada tremendous advantage for trans-shipment throughout the entire region.”
He added the islands would be a strategic location from which to increase engagement with Haiti and Cuba.
These countries are across the globe in the Caribbean, the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and the Mediterranean and South China Sea.
In addition to common difficulties faced by developing countries, SIDS have an additional series of challenges to cope with that require special assistance from the international community.
These challenges were highlighted in the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI) of 2005, both of which stated that the difficulties SIDS face in the pursuit of sustainable development are particularly severe and complex.
Recognition of these issues was reinforced in September of 2014 when Member States of the United Nations officially adopted the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action, known as the SAMOA Pathway.
The challenges that SIDSs face are varied, but all conspire to constrain their development processes.
They typically do not have a wide base of resources available to them, and thus do not benefit from cost advantages that this could potentially generate.
Coupled with small domestic markets, they experience difficulties in profiting from globalisation and trade liberalisation and are cripplingly reliant on external and remote markets with limited opportunities for the private sectors.
The cost of provision of energy, infrastructure, transport and communication are high, and along with high population densities, creates increased pressure on these already limited markets.
These developing countries generally have a heavy reliance on tourism and services; however, as a consequence of their low resilience and location, they are also heavily affected by disasters due to frequent natural hazards.
The unique characteristics and vulnerabilities facing SIDS were first addressed by the international community at the Earth Summit (United Nations (UN) Conference on Environment and Development) in Brazil in 1992.
The SIDS case was the focus of Agenda 21, a non-binding, voluntarily implemented plan of action of the Summit, committed to addressing the problems of sustainable development of SIDS.
This plan involved adopting methods to enable SIDS to function and cope effectively with environmental change, and to mitigate the impacts and reduce the threats posed to their marine and coastal resources.
Following Agenda 21, the Barbados Programme of Action was introduced in 1994, in an effort to provide further aid and support to SIDS. Similarly, its ultimate aim was to improve sustainable development.
It highlighted the challenges of converting Agenda 21 into precise strategies, movements and procedures at the national, regional and international level and listed fifteen areas of priority for specific action.
Five further areas were selected by the UN General Assembly in 1999, recognising their urgency. These five were: climate change, as the rising sea level could render some low-lying SIDS submerged; natural and environmental disasters and climate variability, with an emphasis of improving disaster preparedness and recovery; freshwater resources, preventing water shortages as demand increases; coastal and marine resources, promoting the protection of coastal ecosystems and coral reefs; energy, developing solar and renewable energy in order to lessen dependence on imported oil; and finally tourism, focusing on the management of the growth of the tourism industry and the protection of the environment and cultural integrity.
The 2005 Mauritius Strategy of Implementation further complemented the BPOA.
It gave recognition to the challenges that are unique to SIDS, and proposed further action towards their sustainable development.
The MSI emphasised the location of SIDS in the most vulnerable regions of the world with respect to natural and environmental disasters and their rapidly increasing impact.
It made call for a global early warning system covering threats such as tsunamis, storm surges and cyclones, and stressed that some major adverse effects of climate change are already being observed.
Further, the MSI recognised the importance of international trade for building resilience and sustainable development in SIDS, and established the necessity for international institutions, including financial ones, to pay more specific attention to the structural drawbacks of SIDS.
The MSI went further on matters of trade, stating that “most small island developing states, as a result of their smallness, persistent structural disadvantages and vulnerabilities, face specific difficulties in integrating into the global economy”.
More recently, in September 2014, the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action, also known as the SAMOA Pathway, was adopted. As in the case of the previous adoptions, the strategy recognises the need to support and invest in SIDS so that they can achieve sustainable development. Distinguishing the Samoa Pathway slightly from the BPOA and the MSI is the idea of investing in the education and training of the people of SIDS.
The aim of this idea was to create “resilient societies and economies, with full and productive employment, social protection and decent work for all”, and to provide “full and equal access to quality education at all levels”, the latter which is a vital ingredient for achieving sustainable development.
The promotion of education for sustainable development is especially crucial for SIDS that are under direct threat from climate change, as it will “empower communities to make informed decisions for sustainable living rooted in both science and traditional knowledge”. Finally, the SAMOA Pathway supports efforts “to promote and preserve cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, which provide a mechanism for social cohesion and, thus, are essential in building blocks for addressing the challenges of social development”.
Many SIDS have recognized the need to embrace sustainability through their own internal processes, however, without external aid from the international community, the required change will not come quickly enough. Following on the adoption of the Samoa Pathway, 2015 is rapidly becoming a watershed year for global processes of importance to SIDS.
Convergence is occurring across a broad spectrum of activities as this year has seen the international community deliberate on the Post 2015 framework for disaster risk reduction which culminated in the adoption of the Sendai Framework, new expected agreements in the post 2015 development agenda with Sustainable Development Goals replacing the Millennium Development Goals. New agreements are also expected on how development is financed and there remains expectation of a new international agreement on climate change.
Given their far reaching impact, these developments are critical, particularly when viewed from the perspective of the small island developing state.
Notwithstanding the global consensus, serious challenges remain for SIDS and for the foreseeable future; they will remain a special case for sustainable development.
However, with a global consensus and an avid commitment to the advancement of sustainable development in these countries, positive change is most certainly on the horizon.
George Nicholson is the Director of Transport and Disaster Risk Reduction and Anastasia Ramjag is the Research Assistant of the Directorate of Transport and Disaster Risk Reduction of the Association of Caribbean States.
Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal. More
The Caribbean appears to be the ideal location for renewable energy development. Petroleum resources are scarce and renewable resources such as solar, wind and geothermal are plentiful. Energy prices are high as there is no opportunity for economy of scale benefits that large land masses enjoy. Added to that, climate change impacts pose a major threat to the region’s small-island economies that are largely dependent on tourism and agriculture.
Despite this, most Caribbean nations still use imported diesel or oil to generate 90-100% of their energy. So what has been the barrier to using renewables? Many people have pointed to the cost factor. Small economies mean that in most cases countries have difficulty in financing renewable energy projects that require high upfront capital. Also, regulations have been slow in setting clear rules for grid interconnection. These factors have led some international investors and developers to be cautious about entering the Caribbean market. http://bit.ly/1NeB0fj
By 2040, the world's power-generating capacity mix will have transformed: from today's system composed of two-thirds fossil fuels to one with 56% from zero-emission energy sources. Renewables will command just under 60% of the 9,786GW of new generating capacity installed over the next 25 years, and two-thirds of the $12.2 trillion of investment. • Economics – rather than policy – will increasingly drive the uptake of renewable technologies. All-in project costs for wind will come down by an average of 32% and solar 48% by 2040 due to steep experience curves and improved financing. Wind is already the cheapest form of new power generation capacity in Europe, Australia and Brazil and by 2026 it will be the least-cost option almost universally, with utility-scale PV likely to take that mantle by 2030.
• Over 54% of power capacity in OECD countries will be renewable energy capacity in 2040 – from a third in 2014. Developed countries are rapidly shifting from traditional centralised systems to more flexible and decentralised ones that are significantly less carbon-intensive. With about 882GW added over the next 25 years, small-scale PV will dominate both additions and installed capacity in the OECD, shifting the focus of the value chain to consumers and offering new opportunities for market share.
• In contrast, developing non-OECD countries will build 287GW a year to satisfy demand spurred by economic growth and rising electrification. This will require around $370bn of investment a year, or 80% of investment in power capacity worldwide. In total, developing countries will build nearly three times as much new capacity as developed nations, at 7,460GW – of which around half will be renewables. Coal and utility-scale PV will be neck and neck for additions as power-hungry countries use their low-cost domestic fossil-fuel reserves in the absence of strict pollution regulations.
• Solar will boom worldwide, accounting for 35% (3,429GW) of capacity additions and nearly a third ($3.7 trillion) of global investment, split evenly between small- and utility-scale installations: large-scale plants will increasingly out-compete wind, gas and coal in sunny locations, with a sustained boom post 2020 in developing countries, making it the number one sector in terms of capacity additions over the next 25 years.
• The real solar revolution will be on rooftops, driven by high residential and commercial power prices, and the availability of residential storage in some countries. Small-scale rooftop installations will reach socket parity in all major economies and provide a cheap substitute for diesel generation for those living outside the existing grid network in developing countries. By 2040, just under 13% of global generating capacity will be small-scale PV, though in some countries this share will be significantly higher.
• In industrialised economies, the link between economic growth and electricity consumption appears to be weakening. Power use fell with the financial crisis but has not bounced back strongly in the OECD as a whole, even as economic growth returned. This trend reflects an ongoing shift to services, consumers responding to high energy prices and improvements in energy efficiency. In OECD countries, power demand will be lower in 2040 than in 2014.
• The penetration of renewables will double to 46% of world electricity output by 2040 with variable renewable technologies such as wind and solar accounting for 30% of generation – up from 5% in 2014. As this penetration rises, countries will need to add flexible capacity that can help meet peak demand, as well as ramp up when solar comes off-line in the evening. More
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) received the 2015 Energy Globe Award for its renewable energy and potable water work in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Cayman Islands should be emulating this initiative and moving towards potable water production for Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Editor
Energy Globe, an internationally recognized trademark for sustainability, is one of the most important environmental prizes today with 177 participating countries. The award, which is made from a cross-section of over 1, 500 entries annually, is given in recognition of outstanding performance in terms of energy efficiency, renewable energy and resource conservation.
The CCCCC won the 2015 Energy Globe National Award for the project “Special Programme for Adaptation to Climate Change”. The project was executed on the island of Bequia in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and focuses on the production and provision of clean drinking water for more than 1,000 people. This is being done through the acquisition and installation of a reverse osmosis desalination plant. The project is deemed highly sustainable as the water input is inexhaustible sea water and the energy used is solar, a renewable, carbon-free source.
The landmark project was also presented by Energy Globe as part of a global online campaign (www.energyglobe.info) on World Environment Day. The campaign ran under the patronage of UNESCO and in cooperation with UNEP and received significant recognition.
“To be honoured with this award is a great recognition of our work for a better environment and motivates us to continue our endeavours in the future,” – Henrik Personn, Renewable Energy Expert, CCCCC
Since completing this key project, we have applied the lessons learned in Belize and on the Grenadian islands of Petite Martinique and Carriacou. Review the poster above to learn more about the progress we are making in Grenada:
“I want to salute Caribbean countries for taking on ambitious renewable energy targets. By 2020, for example, Barbados will be one of the world’s top five leading users of solar energy on a per capita basis. You are lighting the path to the future,”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon My main message to you is to remain fully engaged and keep working with us to strengthen our partnership during this vital year for humanity. Together, we can build a better, more sustainable world, for all.said during a high-level symposium focused on sustainable development in the Caribbean.
This meeting was among the UN chief’s first stops in Barbados, where later on Thursdayhe is expected to make opening remarks to the 2015 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit, and where tomorrow, he will, among others, hold an interactive dialogue at the University of the West Indies.
“Twenty years ago, this very building was the site of the First Global Conference on Small Island Developing States that adopted the Barbados Programme of Action – the first compact between this group and the international community,” he noticed
For small island developing States, Ban added, this space is “hallowed ground.”
Encouraged by the presence of so many leaders of governments, regional and international organizations, the private sector, academia, and civil society, the Secretary-General highlighted the “continuing Caribbean commitment to put our world on a safer, more sustainable and equitable pathway,” a few days from theThird International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“As leaders of some of the most vulnerable countries in the world, you don’t need to be told that our planet is at grave risk. You are on the climate frontlines. You see it every day,” he continued.
Convinced that sustainable development and climate change are “two sides of the same coin,” the UN top official went on to say that this generation could be the first to end global poverty, and the last to prevent the worst impacts of global warming “before it is too late.”
To get there, he underlined, the international community must make sure that the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs) are “focused, financed and followed up – with real targets, real money and a real determination to achieve them.”
Considering these goals as a sort of a “to-do list for people and the planet”, Ban emphasized that it will take partnerships to make that happen. In that regard, he said, the Third International Conference on Small Islands Developing States in Samoa last year laid a pathway for collective action and success within the post-2015 development agenda.
But, as the world prepares for a new sustainability framework and the sustainable development goals, a number of critical partnership areas must be strengthened, in particular the need for capacity building; financing; access to technology; and improved data collection and statistics.
Member States also must continue working together to link the global agenda to regional agendas and to deepen regional integration and to address the “unique needs and vulnerabilities” of small island developing states and middle-income countries, such as the debt challenge.
“And we need to keep forging the way forward towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathway that will benefit both people and the planet,” the Secretary-General underlined.
He gave the assurance that, through the Green Climate Fund, and in working with world leaders, he will continue to insist that small islands and least developed countries are top funding priorities.
“My main message to you is to remain fully engaged and keep working with us to strengthen our partnership during this vital year for humanity. Together, we can build a better, more sustainable world, for all.”
Later, in an address to an event on ending violence against women, the Secretary-General said the Caribbean has among the highest rates of sexual assault in the world. Three Caribbean countries are in the global top ten for recorded rapes. Moreover, he noted that in the eastern Caribbean, UNICEF estimates that child sexual abuse rates are between 20 and 45 per cent – meaning at least one in five precious children are affected. Most are girls who have no choice but to live close to their attacker.
“They desperately need our help. Too many women are afraid to seek help. One study showed that up to two thirds of all victims suffer without ever reporting the crime. I am outraged by this. Shame belongs to the perpetrators – not the victiWe have to change mindsets – especially among men,” declared the UN chief.
In that light, he said he was proud to be the first man to sign onto the UN’s HeForShecampaign, and he invited more men to take the HeForShe pledge.
“I encourage you to join UNICEF’s End Violence global campaign. And every day, I count on all of you to work for true equality.”
In the margins of the 36th meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Barbados, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Maxine McClean, of Barbados, a country he congratulated for its upcoming leadership of CARICOM. More