Guyana offers support to sister CARICOM nations’ energy transition

As nations in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) stand to face the worst impacts of the warming global climate, His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has called on the countries to stand with Guyana and accept its support as they transition to cleaner energy sources.

He said Guyana is prepared to work with the region on renewable energy opportunities and help CARICOM play its collective role in the fight against climate change.

The President made the offer during the handing over ceremony for a solar photovoltaic power generation plant at CARICOM’s Secretariat, Liliendaal. The 400-kilowatt solar generation project was undertaken through a US$17.8 million grant agreement between the Governments of Guyana and Japan. Some US$7 million was earmarked for the project. It provides more than 1,500 solar panels for the Secretariat.

His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali

Thanking Japan for its contribution to CARICOM, Dr. Ali talked about the region’s commitment to renewable energy, and fighting climate change. These ideals, the President explained, underscore the need for the region to transition to energy sources such as solar, hydro and wind power.

“Whatever we do here that brings prosperity to the people of Guyana can be replicated – and we will support – that prosperity to the rest of the region, and that is our commitment that we are making… Once we are together, and we partner on a common agenda and a common policy framework, we can achieve great things.”

He said that as an innovative region, CARICOM must show its determination to resolve issues of unreliable and unsustainable energy.

The region, the President said, cannot talk about renewable energy and make no attempt to take action at the regional level, nor could it talk about the importance of low-cost power without implementing projects which promote efficiency in its utilisation of energy and money.

Noting that countries are already making strides, Dr. Ali noted Barbados’ National Energy Policy 2019 to 2030, which sets out a plan to become fossil fuel free by 2030. He also noted Jamaica’s pursuit of a national grid that sources 30 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, moving up to 50 per cent by 2037. Guyana’s expanded low carbon development strategy has projected that the country’s energy mix would be 67 per cent renewable by 2035.

“I’m using these examples; I can go to every single country and point out specific examples in which the countries are not only pursuing a pathway, but to alternative energy, but they are putting measurable indicators within that pathway so you can know exactly what the countries are looking to achieve.”

Dr. Ali told the gathering that Guyana is a member of the International Solar Alliance, and has been working closely with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a New Delhi based research institute that specialises in energy and sustainable development. Through its partnership with TERI, the President said Guyana has carried out programmes and projects to build its capacity, and that Guyana is looking to bring more regional partners into the partnership with TERI.

“Guyana, with the support of organisations such as TERI, can offer to the region, energy performance studies to identify options for energy conservation measures for implementation by the industries to reduce their energy consumption levels. We can offer technology assessment studies for buildings, public utilities, industry sectors with regard to energy and environment.

We can offer support to energy intensive small and medium scale industries through energy sector studies, technology deployment, demonstration and creating an enabling environment for largescale adoption of energy efficient technological options. We can offer support in research on transfer, and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies in the context of climate change, and we can offer support in capacity building and training programmes for industry stakeholders that help them in adopting best practices.”

Dr. Ali also reiterated the need to seek support for adaptation from the international community. When he mounted the world stage last November at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Guyana’s President took the developed world to task over the fact that it has not kept its promises to provide support to small island developing states for their climate mitigation and adaptation needs.

The President believes it is extremely important for those countries to put their money where their mouths are.

“We are not only heavily affected by climate change. We are the worst affected by climate change, and in all development aid and development programs, we have to see this region as a region that has really faced the brunt of climate change, and we are the most exposed to climate change and climate events. There must be a more aggressive deployment of resources to help us to advance our technologies, to help us in our mitigation measures, and help us in our adaptation measures.”

Dr. Ali called on these countries and organisations to put urgent measures in place to assist the CARICOM region.