US Ambassador Candace Bond announced last week the availability of US$6 million in grants for small and micro-enterprises that want to pursue solutions that advance climate-change mitigation and build renewable energy resilience in the region.
Energy Minister Stuart Young, also last week, saw no irony in boasting about the Project Lara solar project, planned to generate 112.2 megawatts of power, while opening an NP service station in Mayaro dedicated to serving fossil fuels and which hasn't even a single token charge port for an electric vehicle.
The Government has not been short on enthusiasm when it comes to announcing commitments to renewable energy and cleaner power, but continues to fall short on bringing real-world promises to fruition.
One reason, the Prime Minister frankly acknowledged, is that creating a regime of renewable energy production is expensive.
The reality is that hydrocarbon production benefits from more than a century of costs of exploration and exploitation, which makes a fresh investment in exploiting sustainable energy even less palatable.
Speaking at an energy conference in Guyana, in February, the Prime Minister said despite having regional potential to generate 3,000 megawatts of solar energy, 800 mw of wind energy and 3,000 mw of geothermal energy, the cost of building new infrastructure to realise that resource has proven prohibitive for most Caribbean countries.
In 2019, TT received US$3 million from the International Renewable Energy Agency for renewable energy projects. By June 2019, the Energy Ministry received submissions from 28 organisations for the development of waste-to-energy projects. Has even one of these been moved into development?
In a Business Day interview in June, Lennox Oudit, managing director of renewable energy equipment provider Trifactor Technical, acknowledged that sales of its systems for solar off-grid energy generation are low in TT compared to Barbados and St Lucia.
According to the Energy Institute, TT registered no change in its reliance on fossil fuels between 1965 and 2022, and the country increased its use of renewable-energy sources from 0.0055 per cent of consumption to 0.0085 per cent between 2010 and 2022 – an era of continued vocal commitments to renewable energy sources.
The turning of the sod on Project Lara for the first of two solar photovoltaic plants to be built in a joint venture between bp, Shell and Lightsource bp is a welcome step beyond the running trend of podium pronouncements.
It will add 112.2 mw from renewable sources to the national consumption profile of 1,322 mw, but sustainability is a business of incremental gains and considered amortisation of the cost of creating sustainable energy-capture systems.
The time to invest in sustainable-energy generation is not after the petro-sector declines, but while the rents on natural resources can fund our transition to renewable energy sources.