T&T has the right tools to begin the transition towards clean energy, but the country’s current dependence on fossil fuels in terms of revenue generation must be carefully managed.
This was the assessment of Harry van Schaick, Managing Editor of the Oxford Business Group during a virtual event hosted by RBC Trinidad and Tobago titled Renewable Energy—Transition for Trinidad and Tobago which was recently held.
Van Schaick noted that this country did have the resources to begin the transition, and could even adopt the model of operation taken by its Caribbean neighbour Barbados to begin the process.
He acknowledged that the recent surge in energy prices however, created a scenario where reliance on the energy sector was even tempting than before, but he suggested that tapping into the transition sooner rather than later could even benefit the country further.
“We’re referring to reduced dependence on the same fossil fuels for economic growth. So currently, this might be hard to achieve for obvious reasons as oil prices are seeing historic levels at historic highs, and the temptation remains to focus on increasing fossil fuel output. When we really should be thinking about this pivot,” said Van Schaick in his presentation, “I want to turn that point on its head. And really tapping into Trinidad and Tobago’s vast, wind and solar potential for domestic electricity consumption would really allow it to export more natural gas and use that extra revenue to finance its own long-term Energy Transition Plans, as we’ve seen in other markets.”
Van Schaick said the financial sector of this country was also well placed to push investment into clean energy, which was another plus for the nation.
“We’re saying here is that we need to be smart about how we transition, especially in hydrocarbon rich economies, such as T&T, and really building in mechanisms, I suppose to mitigate the transition risk. Now it was going to the clean energy transition will only be successful with the support of financial institutions with climate finance, lending and broader investment in green infrastructure and in Trinidad and Tobago.
Darryl White, Chief Executive Officer while driving the discussion amongst the panel questioned if all power generation in Trinidad and Tobago could be achieved by 2050 as he said “an entire ecosystem and infrastructural change that would have to accompany that.”
He also referred to the February 16 island wide blackout which was reportedly caused by a fallen tree, as another reason why reviewing the power grid needed to be done.