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Thursday 19 September 2019
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US$3 million for renewable energy

THIS country has received US$3 million from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) for renewable energy projects. Parliamentary Secretary in the Energy Ministry Nicole Olivierre made this disclosure on Tuesday at the Energy Chamber's 2019 Renewable Energy Conference at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann's.

Olivierre said TT's successful application to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund was announced at IRENA's 2019 Assembly in Abu Dhabi in January. TT has been a member of IRENA, which is based in Abu Dhabi, since February 2014. From this alliance, two proposed projects are currently being finalised. These projects will be based at the Queen's Park Savannah and at Piarco International Airport. Discussions are ongoing with respect to site feasibility and scope, prior to construction.

The thrust to incorporate renewable energy into TT's energy mix is happening at "a monumental time." According to Olivierre, the cost of onshore wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) is "cheaper than ever before." PVs is the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials. Olivierre said IRENA estimates that 80 per cent of solar PV and 75 per cent of onshore wind power to be commissioned in 2020 "will be cheaper than the cheapest new oil, natural gas or coal-fired sources."

Olivierre said given the country's current electricity rates, it is significant to have new electricity sources from renewable energy "fairly priced for maximum uptake and acceptance" by the population. She also disclosed the ministry has created a dedicated renewable energy division to help TT meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement. Among these obligations is a reduction in cumulative emissions from the power generation, transport and industry sectors by 15 per cent by 2030.

The ministry issued a request for proposals for utility scale solar and/or wind renewable energy projects to 37 organisations. The deadline for the submission of these proposals is June 28. The ministry has received submissions from 28 organisations to develop waste-to-energy build-own-operate-transfer schemes. The deadline for submission of these proposals is August 30.

Olivierre said the successful implementation of these projects will be the first step to TT "diversifying the domestic energy mix." This will make additional volumes of oil and natural gas available for export "thereby increasing the generation of foreign exchange." Speaking afterwards with reporters, Olivierre said renewable energy proposals made two years ago by Shell and BP are still being evaluated.

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