I was featured in the Inter-American Dialogue’s Latin American Energy Advisor. In answer to a question about whether Trinidad’s new government can expect changes, I wrote:
“Alone among the Caribbean islands, Trinidad and Tobago is a major energy producer, with large reserves of oil and gas offshore and a large refining capacity. The island first lost access to a large part of its export market when the United States’ energy boom reduced demand for imports from the Caribbean, and then the worldwide collapse in prices harmed revenues of all sorts from oil and gas exports. This has put a huge hole in the country’s budget. The new government of Trinidad and Tobago will need to diversify its economy away from fossil fuel energy production, and plan to increase its investments in renewable energy.
When combined with the high prices of consumer electricity, the Caribbean is one of the few places in the world where renewable energy doesn’t need subsidies for operations. However, the country needs financing. Finding the start-up costs to replace existing fossil fuel investments is a challenge. The Caribbean Energy Security Initiative started by the United States has targeted investments around the region, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation has helped to finance a number of power projects throughout the Caribbean. In the long term, with sustained investment in renewable energy production, a more reliable grid and regulatory reforms, countries could approach a point where they are independent of imported fuels.
Deployment of renewables is not going to be fast enough in the region to wean the majority of countries off their dependence on fossil fuels immediately. That’s where Trinidad’s vast energy resources can help. Generating electricity with modern natural gas turbines is significantly more efficient and less polluting than the fuel oil generators currently used on most islands. In addition, natural gas turbines work very well with renewables because they can ramp up or down their power generation in response to the variable power provided by solar or wind power. American investment in islands like Trinidad and Tobago can help to rebuild old partnerships, grow bilateral relations and support economic development. There are few win-wins in politics, but this is one of them.”
Read commentary from other experts at: http://www.thedialogue.org/energy-advisor/
Read more on ASP’s Caribbean Energy Security research