Caricom should move to become net exporter of energy – Ali

It is time for the Caribbean Community (Caricom) to craft a regional energy plan that will not only address the demands of Member States but more extensively, to establish the bloc as a net exporter of energy.
This is according to President Irfaan Ali as the business session of the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) got underway on Monday.
As he opened the session, the Caricom Chairman revealed, “I believe the time has come for us to have a regional energy plan that looks at the future, all forms of energy and to see how the region can be self-sufficient, how we can guard against inflationary pressures and how we can become a net exporter of energy especially as we move towards renewables and transitional fuel.”
Ali’s position comes at a time when countries have been making the switch to renewables in keeping with the global commitment of reducing emissions by almost half by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.
It is projected that by 2050, the Region will have transitioned from 19 percent electrification to 51 percent.

President Irfaan Ali with Caricom, SG Dr Carla Barnett at the opening of the business session during the Caricom Heads of Government meeting

Last week, it was outlined by the Caricom Secretary General, Dr Carla Barnett during the Guyana Energy Conference and Supply Chain Expo, that energy plays a critical role in development, enhancing social well-being and fostering economic stability for the region. However, the Region faces significant challenges to energy security.
Hazards, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, affect electricity supply, leaving communities without electricity and posing significant threats to security and well-being.
At the same time, many Member States are struggling to replace outdated power plants and fragile electric grids. The heavy reliance on imported oil, with its rising costs, exacerbates our energy challenges. This has been made even worse by increasing geopolitical tensions, which have affected prices.
Caricom is actively working towards a more sustainable and resilient energy future by accelerating the deployment of renewable energy resources and fostering partnerships among Member States.
Barnett had said, “The increasing production of hydrocarbons in Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago presents opportunities to enhance regional energy security. It also presents opportunities for increased private and public sector investments in building social, economic, environmental and climate resilience as the world transitions towards clean and renewable sources of energy.”
She had outlined that accelerating the energy transition and energy system transformation is essential to increase the share of renewable energy, promote the use of cleaner fuels, and bolster resilience. Capacity building and access to emerging technologies will also help develop the energy potential in the Region.
“Achieving our vision of a sustainable energy future in the Caribbean requires continued collaboration, integration, and investment. Caricom’s energy transition is strengthened by cooperative partnerships, including with international development partners who can play a crucial role with support through technical assistance, funding for sustainable energy projects and critically, access to technology,” Dr Barnett was quoted saying.
Locally, a total of $95.7 billion has been allocated in 2024 for the energy sector. Of that sum, $1.3 billion will go towards energy expansion and diversification. The 2024 budgetary allocation for the energy sector builds on the 2023 allocation of $59.3 billion.
In this regard, the sum of $80 billion dollars is budgeted separately to advance the flagship 300MW Gas-to-Energy project; however, no money has been provided for the 165MW Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP), given that four firms have submitted pre-qualification documentation, and these are currently being evaluated.
Nevertheless, work on the mini-hydropower facilities in Kumu and Moco-Moco will move forward with $1.3 billion from this year’s budget. Additionally, $4.8 billion has been provided to finance several solar power projects across the country.
While the Gas-to-Energy (GtE) Project will play an important role in supplying gas to the domestic market, President Ali shared last week that it also will play an important part in Guyana earning export revenue through the supply of gas to neighbouring Brazil; the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and even the Dominican Republic (DR). (G12)