IRENA Assesses Renewables Readiness of Fiji, Marshall Islands and Vanuatu

2 July 2015: The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released Renewables Readiness Assessments (RRAs) for three small island developing States (SIDS): Fiji, the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu. The RRAs find that the three countries could meet their energy needs, expand energy access, decrease electricity costs and strengthen energy independence through a combination of renewable energy resources.

The Assessments call for employing a combination of solar, wind, geothermal, marine, biomass and biofuel energy to lessen the islands’ dependence on imports and cushion their economies from oil price fluctuations. They find that developing domestic sources of renewable power will be a win-win for both the climate and the economy, mitigating these countries’ carbon emissions and creating local jobs.


As outlined in their RRAs, all three countries are heavily dependent on fossil fuel imports, despite abundant renewable sources: solar, geothermal, wind, biomass and biofuel in Vanuatu; solar and wind in the Marshall Islands; and hydropower, biomass, solar, geothermal and wind in Fiji.


The RRA for Vanuatu assesses progress under the National Energy Roadmap toward sourcing 63% of its energy from renewables by 2030, calling for a grid-assessment study in preparation for large-scale renewables integration. Concluding that off-grid renewables could reach 83% of rural residents without electricity, it also recommends adoption of standard designs for off-grid solar-home systems.


The RRA for the Marshall Islands reports thousands of solar installations since enactment of the National Energy Policy and the Energy Action Plan, but suggests exploring more wind opportunities, forming a national energy agency and a renewable energy coordination committee, planning for off-grid renewables and addressing fuel drum leakage.


The RRA for Fiji examines the National Energy Policy, which hopes to achieve 100% renewables by 2030, finding that the Policy requires further implementation. It calls for a national energy committee to improve coordination among ministries and donors, consideration of maritime transport fueled by renewables, and greater geothermal energy exploration.


IRENA, which has completed more than 20 RRAs for countries around the world, states that the Assessments “offer a holistic evaluation of conditions for renewable energy deployment in a country and outline the actions necessary to further improve these conditions.” [IRENA Press Release] [IRENA Publication Webpage, Fiji] [Publication: Fiji Renewables Readiness Assessment] [IRENA Publication Webpage, Marshall Islands] [Publication: The Republic of Marshall Islands Renewables Readiness Assessment] [IRENA Publication Webpage, Vanuatu] [Publication: Vanuatu Renewables Readiness Assessment] More

 

 

 

CARICOM Countries Address Renewable Energy, SIDS’ Development, Climate Change

CARICOM 5 July 2015: The 36th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) focused on energy, bolstering education systems, and Haiti's “looming humanitarian crisis,” among other issues. A high-level symposium on sustainable development convened on the sidelines of the Conference.

During the meeting, held on 2-4 July 2015, in Bridgetown, Barbados, leaders welcomed the establishment of a Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy, which will be hosted by Barbados. The Centre will act as the implementation hub for sustainable energy activities and projects within the Caribbean. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago proposed creating a Caribbean Energy Fund, which participants supported.

Discussions at the Conference also addressed: access to concessional development financing for small island developing States (SIDS), with leaders advocating for a vulnerability measurement instead of gross domestic product (GDP) to determine economic health; a climate agreement that would limit warming to below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels; and decision-making mechanisms in the region.

The Conference resulted in a communiqué that addresses: sustainable development; resilience building and wealth creation for Caribbean development, and the role of Caribbean universities; science and technology; and the promotion of sustainable energy. Participants also adopted 'The CARICOM Declaration for Climate Action,' which outlines the Caribbean region's priorities for the 2015 climate agreement, including loss and damage, limiting warming to below 1.5°C, a compliance mechanism, and finance measures, including improved and privatized access to funds by SIDS.

Speaking during the high-level symposium on sustainable development, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that, by 2020, Barbados will be one of the world's top five solar energy users on a per capita basis, and Caribbean countries “are lighting the path to the future.” Noting that sustainable development and climate change are “two sides of the same coin,” Ban reiterated that this generation could be the first to end global poverty, and the last to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, “before it is too late.”

Ban underscored that the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must be “focused, financed and followed up,” and that partnerships must be strengthened with regard to capacity building, financing, access to technology, and improved data collection and statistics.

Ban also called on countries to: link the global agenda to regional agendas; deepen regional integration; focus on the needs and vulnerabilities of SIDS and middle-income countries (MICs), including by addressing the debt challenge; and achieve a low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathway. He said he will continue working to guarantee that SIDS and the least developed countries (LDCs) are top funding priorities of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), among other sources.

http://sids-l.iisd.org/news/caricom-countries-address-renewable-energy-sids-development-climate-change/

 

 

A Fossil Fuel Free World is Possible: How to Power a Warming Earth Without Oil, Coal and Nuclear

There’s all sorts of, kind of, false beliefs about renewable energy, but things have changed. Wind is, right now, not only one of the fastest — between wind and solar — are the fastest growing new sources of electric power in the United States, but wind is actually the cheapest form of electricity by far in the U.S. today.

Floating Offshore Wind Turbines

The unsubsidized cost without the subsidies is about 3.7 to five cents per kilowatt hour. Subsidies are another 1.5 cents to drop those costs per kilowatt hour. That compares with natural gas which is six to eight cents per kilowatt hour. So wind is one half the cost of natural gas. Utility scale solar is about the same as natural gas now; it’s also around six to eight cents per kilowatt-hour unsubsidized.”

Well, it turns out that people today can actually control their own power in their own homes. You can put solar panels — I mean wind turbines may be only in a few locations in your back yard, but you can combine solar panels on your roof top with batteries and Tesla has a new battery pack that you can put in your garage that can — where you can store electricity during the day that from the solar, and then use it — use that electricity when there are peak times of electricity because that is when the price is much higher. But people can do other things. They can weatherize their home, they can use energy efficient appliances. There are a lot of things that people can do to reduce energy use and go towards 100 percent renewable energy. Using heat pumps instead of gas heaters. Getting electric cars instead of gasoline cars. More

 

 

Civil Aviation Unveils Design For New Cayman Air Terminal

The Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) has unveiled the interior conceptual drawings for the multi-million dollar expansion project at Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA).

Commenting on the design created by Florida based firm RS&H Group, CIAA’s CEO Albert Anderson said, “The interior design is very impressive and I am confident that once completed the new expanded airport will be a first-class terminal facility

The CI$55 million expansion project should take around three years to complete and will nearly triple the current space at the airport. Construction on the first phase of the project is expected to begin this summer.

Here is the Cayman Islands Government's chance to save money and show their support for alternative energy. Covering the roof and parking lots with solar panels, and using LED lighting would set an example for Caymanians and Caymanian businesses to follow. Editor

 

Wind of change sweeps through energy policy in the Caribbean

Aruba in the southern Caribbean has 107,000 people, a lot of wind and sun and, until very recently, one very big problem. Despite the trade winds and sunshine, it was spending more than 16% of its economy on importing 6,500 barrels of diesel fuel a day to generate electricity.

People were furious at the tripling of energy prices in 10 years and the resulting spiralling costs of imported water and food.

That changed at the Rio earth summit in 2012, when the prime minister, Mike Eman, announced that the former oil-producing Dutch island close to Venezuela planned to switch to 100% renewables by 2020.

Working with the independent US energy group the Rocky Mountain Institute and the business NGO Carbon War Room, Aruba ditched its old steam turbines for more efficient engines and changed the way it desalinated seawater.

It cost $300m (£183m), says the energy minister and deputy PM Mike D’Emeza, but Aruba immediately halved its fuel consumption and saved itself $85m a year. It then built a 30MW wind farm and cut its diesel consumption a further 50%. Now it is planning another wind farm and a large solar park. By 2020, Aruba will be free from fossil fuels and possibly storing renewable electricity under water or using ice.

The move to energy independence has had dramatic results, says De Meza. Electricity prices, which were US 33c/ KwH in 2009, have dropped 25% and are stable; inflation has been reversed; the island has nearly paid off the $300m it cost to switch out of diesel; the price of drinking water has fallen by almost a third; and the number of people unable to pay their bills has declined drastically.

“We had been grappling with very high energy costs for 15 years. We realised that our dependency on fossil fuels was leading to political and economic instability. We had to act,” De Meza says.

Aruba is already enjoying health and economic benefits. More tourists are keen to visit a green island, he adds, and children are fitter because it costs families less to pay for sports, and there is less illness. “It has been very popular. Instead of energy prices being the top of the political agenda, the debate now is about which is the best renewable energy source Aruba should go for next.”

Many other Caribbean islands are eager to follow Aruba. Some in the region pay more than 42c/ kwh – three or four times the price paid in most of the US and Europe – and up to 25% of their GDP on diesel for electricity.

Many are also locked into long-term contracts with monopolistic US or Canadian utility companies which have negotiated 17% or even higher guaranteed profit margins.

With many states also having to pay off onerous long-term loans to regional banks, the net effect of high power costs is continual misery, says Nicholas Robson, director of the Cayman Institute thinktank. “People are coming to me saying they cannot afford electricity. It costs 42c in the Caymans. It’s approaching a crisis point. People are struggling because of energy prices.”

“We are very concerned about the high cost of energy and how it affects jobs,” BVI prime minister Orlando Smith adds.

“We pay 38c/ KwH,” says James Fletcher, St Lucia’s energy and science minister. “The result is that industries like tourism, which are very heavy electricity users, are not competitive, our agriculture cannot move out of being just primary commodity producers, and our people have no money.”

St Lucia plans over the next 10 years to switch much of its electricity from diesel to renewables, using geothermal, wind and solar power. The government will make it easier for people to generate their own electricity to reduce diesel demand, and changing street lights to LEDs could reduce costs by $11m a year, he explains.

“Renewables will provide new jobs, everyone will have more money in their pockets, transport will be cheaper and companies will be able to expand more easily,” Fletcher says.

“Islands can get prices down to just 12c/ KwH,” says Ed Bosage, a wealthy American financier who bought the small island of Over Yonder Cay and who has switched it to 96% renewables with wind, solar and a tidal generator. “The wind blows at an average of 16 knots. The tidal is extremely reliable. We learned that wind trumps sun by 2:1. We now produce electricity for 12c, the cheapest in the Caribbean, and will get it cheaper. It’s repeatable everywhere,” he says.

Caribbean islands share similar problems to thousands of others in the Pacific and elsewhere. Mostly, they are not on national grids, which makes them vulnerable to high energy costs, fuel has to be imported at extra cost, and they are often reliant on just one utility company and most are too small to benefit from economies of scale.

While some can attract high-spending tourists and offshore finance companies, small island states are often heavily indebted, with weak economies, pockets of intense poverty and often rundown hospitals and schools.

But, says Peter Lilienthal, director of Colorado-based Homer Energy and former US national energy laboratory chief, islands stand to benefit from the renewable revolution more than anyone. “Diesel is now hurting small islands. They are burning money. But the price of solar has plummeted in the last few years. It’s now cost-efficient everywhere. Islands now can be the leaders.”

Jamaica is investing heavily in wind, Barbados in solar power and eight island states – Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, St Lucia, Turks and Caicos,and the Colombian islands of Providencia and San Andreas have joined the Carbon War Room’s “10 island challenge”. This gives them access to technological and funding help from the Rocky Mountain Institute and others.

“Renewables have come slowly to the Caribbean and other developing countries but the technology is now cheap enough and diverse enough to make it much easier to install,” says Amory Lovins, chief scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute. “Small islands can move fast if they have coherent policies. They can be the future.” More

 

Global carbon dioxide levels break 400ppm milestone

Record carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere were reported worldwide in March, in what scientists said marked a significant milestone for global warming.

Figures released by the US science agency Noaa on Wednesday show that for the first time since records began, the parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere were over 400 globally for a month.

The measure is the key indicator of the amount of planet-warming gases man is putting into the atmosphere at record rates, and the current concentrations are unprecedented in millions of years.

The new global record follows the breaking of the 400ppm CO2 threshold in some local areas in 2012 and 2013, and comes nearly three decades after what is considered the ‘safe’ level of 350ppm was passed.

“Reaching 400ppm as a global average is a significant milestone,” said Pieter Tans, lead scientist on Noaa’s greenhouse gas network.

“This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide concentrations to rise more than 120ppm since pre-industrial times,” added Tans. “Half of that rise has occurred since 1980.”

World leaders are due to meet in Paris for a UN climate summit later this year in an attempt to reach agreement on cutting countries’ carbon emissions to avoid dangerous global warming.

Dr Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading told the Guardian: “This event is a milestone on a road to unprecedented climate change for the human race. The last time the Earth had this much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was more than a million years ago, when modern humans hadn’t even evolved yet.

“Reaching 400ppm doesn’t mean much in itself, but the steady increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases should serve as a stark reminder of the task facing politicians as they sit down in Paris later this year.”

Greenhouse gas emissions from power plants stalled for the first time last year without the influence of a strict economic recession, according to the International Energy Agency, an influential thinktank.

Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which oversees the international climate negotiations, said: “These numbers underline the urgency of nations delivering a decisive new universal agreement in Paris in December – one that marks a serious and significant departure from the past.

“The agreement and the decisions surrounding it needs to be a long term development plan providing the policies, pathways and finance for triggering a peaking of global emissions in 10 years’ time followed by a deep, decarbonisation of the global economy by the second half of the century.”

But even if manmade emissions were dramatically cut much deeper than most countries are planning, the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere would only stabilise, not fall, scientists said.

James Butler, director of Noaa’s global monitoring division, said: “Elimination of about 80% of fossil fuel emissions would essentially stop the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but concentrations of carbon dioxide would not start decreasing until even further reductions are made and then it would only do so slowly.”

Concentrations of CO2 were at 400.83ppm in March compared to 398.10ppm in March 2014, the preliminary Noaa data showed. They are are expected to stay above 400pm during May, when levels peak because of CO2 being taken up by plants growing in the northern hemisphere.

Noaa used air samples taken from 40 sites worldwide, and analysed them at its centre in Boulder, Colorado. The agency added that the average growth rate in concentrations was 2.25ppm per year from 2012-2014, the highest ever recorded for three consecutive years. More