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Trinidad and Tobago seeks to broaden energy mix

The following is the speech by Energy and Energy Affairs Minister Kevin Ramnarine at the official launch of the Sustainable Energy Programme for Trinidad and Tobago - Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Technical Assistance to the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs as prepared for delivery on November 30, 2012 at the Marriot.

The population of the world emits 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. Scientists believe that carbon emissions, most notably carbon dioxide, may negatively influence the quality of our air and increase the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases have a direct influence on the environment potentially causing extreme weather changes, a global temperature increase, the loss of ecosystems and hazardous health effects for people. On the other hand, world electricity demand is projected to double between 2000 and 2030, growing at an annual rate of 2.4%. The International Atomic Energy Agency has predicted that electricity's share of total final energy consumption will rise from 18% in 2000 to 22% in 2030. Electricity demand growth is strongest in developing countries, where demand will climb by over 4% per year over the projected period, more than tripling by 2030. Consequently, the developing countries' share of global electricity demand will jump from 27% in 2000 to 43% in 2030. The tension between development and sustainability is the challenge of our generation, a challenge we must overcome for our own survival and for the prosperity of generations to come.

In 2011 the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago entered into a policy based loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the development of a Sustainable Energy Policy Framework (SEPF). This Framework is geared to support the Government’s major efforts to transition T&T to a more efficient, sustainable and clean energy matrix. Today the project is being launched in a year that the United Nations has declared the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.” It is hoped that this global initiative will lead to universal access to modern energy services, increased energy efficiency and a twofold increase in the use of Renewable Energy (RE) sources.

Earlier in the program the Permanent Secretary of the MEEA would have explained the terms of our agreement with the IDB in some detail and mentioned some of those agencies that are partnering with us in the process. At the core of the arrangement though, is the development of a Sustainable Energy Policy Framework to facilitate Trinidad and Tobago’s transition to a more efficient combination of energy sources that can be relied on beyond the immediate future. The focal points of the policy structure will be to improve the exploitation and end-use of indigenous fuel resources, facilitate the use of alternative energy and promote small energy business. Under the current agreement the IDB both support and serve as a guide to the MEEA in the realisation of these goals.

In the first instance the IDB will render assistance in the preparation of a regulatory framework that promotes the use of RE, Energy Efficiency (EE) and carbon reduction and provide recommendations. The program will focus on the establishment of energy needs, analysis of regulatory and policy issues, development of action plans, targets and a Draft Document for National Policy.

Further collaboration is also taking place in the area of EE and Policy Support; identifying the necessary channels for the promotion of EE practices by the relevant stakeholders. This phase of the project will also include an assessment of suitable EE technologies, technical assistance for and performance of energy audits and determination of financial needs and local capacities.

The third element will involve the exploration of alternatives for RE funding and funding for RE Pilot Programmes, while another component is expected to focus on specific studies and support material.

Globally, reference to sustainable energy, specifically renewable or green energy, is typically made to an energy source which is essentially inexhaustible. Sustainable energy technologies are clean sources of energy that have lower impacts on the environment than conventional energy technologies. Adopting sustainable energy technologies can reduce emissions as well as water consumption, waste, and adverse land-use impacts. For Trinidad and Tobago, energy sustainability must also address the ways in which we are able to channel the profits derived from hydrocarbon exploitation into RE technologies, while simultaneously managing the environmental impact of the process.

When I assumed the role of Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs, I made a commitment to an increase in oil production. The MEEA has embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign to attract the right type of investment, expertise and technology toward the continuation of a successful deepwater drilling industry and the resuscitation of a previously neglected land based industry. In this respect we are doing well. Still, it would be myopic and irresponsible of this country not to recognise that that our hydrocarbon resources are finite and depleting. While our aim is to boost oil production, we must also secure a long term energy supply. This means not only investing in the development of alternative energy sources, but educating the public, preparing them for a future in which renewable energy as a way of life. As a small island state we must take responsibility for the role we play in global climate change to the same degree that we are able to benefit from the bounty of our natural resources.

The local industrial sector, with the highest energy demand and most significant Greenhouse Gas emission level, holds the greatest potential for energy savings. In 2010 an audit of ammonia, methanol, and iron and steel facilities was undertaken at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate as part of an EE study. The results revealed significant opportunities for energy savings amounting to approximately US13million. The same audit also revealed potential CO2 savings of 47,000 tonnes per annum. The issue of Climate Change cannot and will not be taken lightly by the MEEA. As an organization heavily reliant on the knowledge, expertise and wisdom of scientists, it would be ironic for us to ignore the statistical data and trends in support of the argument that the impact of humans on the environment, in particular climate change, is very real.

While we recognise that the role our colleagues at the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources played in the development of the National Climate Change Policy of 2011 will have an impact on how we address the issue of climate change, we also recognise that the possible impact the activities of our industry can have on climate change itself. As long as the conventional energy sector thrives it will continue to be the country’s main source of anthropogenic green-house gas emissions, and it follows that the ministry responsible for that sector must accept a leadership role as regulator in mitigating local climate change impact.

In light of this and in the interest of the sustainable development of Trinidad and Tobago, the MEEA has also been exploring independent initiatives that are consistent with the requirements of our agreement with the IDB. The National Energy Corporation has been mandated to develop a policy framework and programme for EE for industrial plants operating in the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. The MEEA Renewable Energy Committee has been made responsible for the development of RE and EE policy and promotion RE and EE plans and programmes. A policy framework developed by this committee and approved by Cabinet in 2011, is currently being incorporated in the National Energy Policy Green Paper. Also in keeping with this administration’s thrust toward good governance and transparency, steps being taken for the validation of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) process, as we seek to attain compliant status by August 2013.

T&T’s sustainable development strategy to make EE a top priority is in sync with the global logic and thinking. In the context of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, it is generally accepted that meaningful action in climate change mitigation will only come from a change in energy systems and among these, energy efficiency is regarded the most viable option in the short term. While oil and gas will remain the major contributor for national growth and development for some time into the future, the Government will ensure an optimal energy mix that includes energy efficiency and renewable energy, in the interest of the sustainability of the nation. At the MEEA we view climate change not as a challenge, but an opportunity to create new business that will enhance economic growth and improve the country’s global competitiveness. We are reluctant to wait for future generations to engage in sustainable ventures. We will initiate and implement sustainable energy projects from in our own lifetimes, so that we can begin to reap the benefits that a sustainable economy offers.

Thank you.



The following were the opening remarks of Permanent Secretary Vishnu Dhanpaul, also of Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs, at the same launch.

A pleasant good morning to you, ladies and gentlemen.

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this, the official launch of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs (MEEA) Sustainable Energy Program which is being developed in collaboration with the Inter- American Development Bank.

The fact that so many Government Ministries and organizations are represented here today is testimony to the high level of collaboration that has been taking place and will continue between the Energy Ministry and various stakeholders. Indeed I am sure we all recognize that the answers to our sustainable development dilemma do not reside in any one person or organisation.

Today marks exactly one year since the signing of the Loan Agreement between the GORTT and the Inter- American Development Bank (IADB) for the development of a Sustainable Energy Framework for Trinidad and Tobago.

In support of this program, the IADB is providing Technical Assistance to the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs for the development of a sustainable energy matrix that includes energy efficiency and renewable energy. Through this function here today we formally recognize this on-going collaboration.

To provide this technical support to the Ministry, the IADB in collaboration with the MEEA procured the services of an International Consortium of Consultants comprising the Centre of Partnerships for Development (CAD), Projekt-consult GmbH and LKS Ingenieria S. Coop. The work has already started. To date the Ministry has hosted an introductory session and three technical missions with these consultants in which the focus has been energy efficiency, bioenergy and waste to energy.

According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), energy is central to sustainable development and poverty reduction efforts. Energy affects all aspects of development -- social, economic, and environmental.

We recognize that the Ministry needs to be aligned strategically to enhance its performance and effectiveness to cope with the changing energy landscape which will increasingly include cleaner forms of energy including Renewable Energy, the widespread adoption of CNG as transportation fuel and energy efficiency. A clear signal of our resolve to cope with the changing landscape is the present organizational restructuring that is currently apace.

The Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs (MEEA) has developed a Strategic Plan for the period 2012 – 2016. This planning exercise was informed by three of the seven (7) Pillars of national development that are most relevant to the remit of this organization, namely:

• PILLAR 2: Poverty Eradication and Social Justice – Preference for Poor and Disadvantaged

• PILLAR 4: Information and Communication Technologies – Connecting T&T and Building the New Economy

• PILLAR 5: A More Diversified, Knowledge Intensive Economy – Building on the Native Genius of Our People

In order to achieve consistent organizational results, all components of the Planning Process are being “integrated” on a micro and macro level.

The plan has been rolled out, with the management and staff being charged with reviewing and revising the present Organization Structure. The MEEA is currently in the process of conducting stakeholder research, which will continue in the upcoming weeks as initial findings are validated and a draft structure prepared.

The MEEA’s main goal of this institutional strengthening exercise is to provide optimum service to all key stakeholders and build a responsive and flexible organization. It is expected that the new organizational structure will be approved by Cabinet by Q1 of 2013, and implementation of the said structure shall commence immediately thereafter.

By no means is the Ministry operating in a vacuum. Our plans and programmes are in sync with the broader national development policy agenda, as identified in the Social and Economic Policy Framework and the Public Sector Investment Programme.

Even more so our development strategies are guided by the various multi-lateral environmental agreements including the Kyoto protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Our policies are also informed by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with respect to environmental sustainability.

Access to sustainable sources of clean, reliable and affordable energy has a profound impact on multiple aspects of human development; it relates not only to physical infrastructure (e.g. electricity grids), but also, to energy affordability, reliability and commercial viability.

The development of sustainable energy is therefore an important aspect of the country’s Energy Policy Green paper that is currently being developed. Consistent with this policy the MEEA has been developing an enabling environment for RE and EE and currently spearheading a number of initiatives to address the barriers and create a platform for development over the long term.  These include a combination of fiscal support mechanisms, legislative review of the Electricity and Regulated Commissions Acts and a programme of education, training and awareness.  

A number of pilot projects are also being pursued by the Government in an effort to lead by example involving community centers and secondary schools. Furthermore we are about to embark on a Wind Resource Assessment Programme.

In T&T, we are in a unique position, where energy is affordable relative to other developed and developing countries. However, we are aware that these are finite resources that will one day, come to an end, hopefully far in the future. It is our belief, that we must start preparing for such a future from today.

The Ministry’s collaboration with the IADB will help us ensure we are better equipped to make the right decisions in crafting this future. We look forward to the upcoming technical missions with the consultancy consortium, whose technical expertise and advice will broaden our understanding of the clean technologies that are increasingly forming part of the international energy mix.

Ladies and Gentlemen I Thank You.

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