The world is facing increased environmental pressure to transition away from pollutant fuels towards cleaner and renewable sources of energy. Under the Paris Agreement, TT's aim is to reduce overall emissions from the power, transportation and industrial sectors by 15 per cent from a business-as-usual scenario by 2030. To achieve this objective, clean energy technologies will be critical.
Compressed natural gas (CNG), electric and hybrid vehicles are options already available to reduce the carbon output of the transportation sector. Government incentives, policy changes and clean energy innovations in automotive manufacturing are now driving further market shifts away from internal combustion engines, and will shape consumer preferences over the coming years.
For power generation and industry, while natural gas is the cleanest hydrocarbon and will remain important through the energy transition, there are other clean energy technologies which generate even fewer emissions. Solar energy, for example, is being actively pursued for integration into the electricity grid, through such projects at the BP/Lightsource/Shell 20MW solar installation (in development) and National Energy’s Caribbean solar PV assembly facility (in conceptualisation).
Green hydrogen is another clean energy option in the pipeline, being pursued by Kenesjay Green Ltd (KGL) in partnership with the National Gas Company (NGC). The technology now exists to produce green hydrogen using renewable energy. This can in turn be used to transport renewable energy when converted into a carrier such as ammonia; as a power source for fuel cell vehicles and can even help clean up hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as steel and cement manufacturing.
If solar, green hydrogen and cleaner motoring technologies are successfully deployed in TT, this could herald a new era of energy for the country and the wider Caribbean region.
Technological innovation is also helping to reduce carbon footprint globally. For example, carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies are allowing industries worldwide to channel emissions into other productive uses. In TT, a government-appointed steering committee is exploring how CO2 from the Point Lisas Industrial Estate and Atlantic’s LNG facilities might be captured and used to support enhanced oil recovery activities. This involves sequestering carbon dioxide in underground wells to help increase pressure and force oil to the surface. Under the right conditions, this could support production of carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative oil, which would be a game changer for industry.
Technology is also helping with emissions reduction through new leak detection and visualisation tools. Infrared cameras and satellite technology can be used to spot leaks from ground-level and aerial vantage points, allowing companies to quickly detect and address emissions of methane – one of the most potent greenhouse gases. NGC has been using both to monitor its gas pipeline network.
When we speak of technology, we cannot overlook digital tools and software. Covid19 compelled many companies to move processes online and introduce remote work arrangements for employees. In the energy sector, several companies continue to allow some form of hybrid arrangements. Virtual meeting platforms have also been leveraged to deliver remote project management services to emerging energy jurisdictions elsewhere in the world. This could become a profitable new service sector within the energy industry.
New tools and gadgets, artificial intelligence, digital twins, robotics, the Internet-of-Things, smart forms and drones are some tools that are allowing energy companies to manage operations and monitor assets remotely, reducing the exposure of personnel to risks on the field and margins for human error.
It is hardly surprising that technology is shaping the future of the local energy sector. TT must now ensure that the sector keeps pace with technological advancement in order to stay competitive.
The TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce thanks the National Gas Company (signature platinum sponsor 2022) for contributing to this article.