MINISTER of Energy and Energy Industries Franklin Khan appealed to technocrats at Monday’s opening ceremony of the Energy Chamber’s Energy Efficiency and Renewables Conference not to ignore the importance of natural gas as a clean and sustainable transition fuel, as the country moves toward re-balancing its energy mix.
He said technocrats must not forget that Trinidad and Tobago is an oil-and-gas-based economy which heavily depends on hydrocarbons for major exports and foreign exchange.
“Today we face a daunting but not insurmountable challenge in the re-balancing of our energy mix,” said Khan. “We will seek opportunities to work with our stakeholders in our domestic energy sector to develop and implement solutions aimed at reducing our carbon footprint as part of our contribution to the reduction of global warming.”
But, he said, based on existing gas reserves, natural gas would continue to play a role in TT’s development in the short to medium term.
“For decades, 100 per cent of our electricity has been generated from natural gas, which continues to grown in prominence as a transition fuel. In this regard, TT has been a leader in the transition, having transformed the domestic energy sector from being oil-based to gas based.
“Yes we are committed to becoming a carbon neutral economy and we will get there in a judicious and orderly manner. In fact, it is the very income from natural gas that will enable us to do so.”
TT, Khan said, currently stands in the median when it comes to transitioning to clean energy. He said as a small island developing state, TT is aware of the effects of climate change on the environment.
He said this is the reason that one of the Government’s goals for the next decade includes short-, medium- and long-term goals aimed at balancing progress for the nation and respect to the environment. Khan said government goals include improving energy efficiency, incorporating renewable energy supply and reducing TT’s carbon footprint.
Government has already started including clean energy in the mix. A solar project undertaken by a consortium of BP, Lightsoure BP and Shell will seek to provide TT with a solar-energy power-generation plant.
Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales said this consortium will build two plants at Orange Grove and Brechin Castle. The proposed cost of the investment would be about $861 million over a 20-year period. It would cost taxpayers about $76 million a year for 20 years, or $1.52 billion overall.
Gonzales said for the next four years, there may not be a need for electricity generated from clean energy sources, but if within the next three-five years TT consumes enough energy for the plants to be of use, the country can avoid a cost which would amount to $635 million over a 20-year period, and reduce carbons by three million tonnes over the same period.
He also highlighted memoranda of understanding signed between Government and Kenersjay Green Systems, an energy consulting company, and New Gen energy, whose focus is on green hydrogen, on a plant which will use waste heat and steam from other power plants to generate electricity.