Last Thursday, September 2, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) organized an inclusive space for dialogue entitled Advancing Policy and Mobilizing Investment, which took place virtually. The event was supported by the NDC Finance Initiative, GIZ, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and GET.invest, a European program mobilizing investments in decentralized renewable energy (DER), supported by the European Union, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria.
The event attracted more than 400 registrants from the public and private sectors, including technology providers, project developers, philanthropic organizations, investors, international funding partners and policy makers.
Industry experts in the region, including the Inter-American Development Bank, CARICOM, Solartia, CAMCO, along with members of government provided in-depth insights into the role of DREs in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the Eastern Caribbean, as well as the enabling environment for DRE solutions to thrive in the region.
The dialogue demonstrated that DRE technologies are key to harnessing the vast potential of renewable energy and diversifying the energy matrix, providing major socio-economic and environmental benefits in the Eastern Caribbean, thereby reducing energy prices and dependence on fossil fuels. DRE solutions are also key to helping regional governments achieve their climate change ambitions and increase their resilience to extreme weather events.
Devon Gardner, Head of the Energy Unit of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat stressed that: "The high solar potential of the Eastern Caribbean States offers clear and present opportunities for integration in the energy, heating and cooling sectors. The Eastern Caribbean Solar Challenge provides a platform for innovative approaches that address the fundamental challenges of energy supply security and pricing in a number of key economic and social sectors critical to our sustainable development, while enhancing the region's contribution to climate mitigation."
In the same manner Solartia's Chief Commercial Officer, Alexander Larios, stressed that "stimulating the energy sector in the Eastern Caribbean States is a collective effort and definitely starts with the development of favorable rules and regulations. It is about establishing a comprehensive and inclusive framework that encourages financial entities and private companies to improve and diversify each country's energy matrix, which in turn will greatly benefit stakeholders economically, environmentally and socially."
The event also shared practical ideas for domestic and international DRE companies and investors to enter or expand into the Eastern Caribbean market, focusing on innovative technologies and business models, policy frameworks and financial opportunities.
"Decentralized renewables will play a key role in the Caribbean region in driving the energy sector, particularly hybrid microgrids and energy storage. The Caribbean is a region hit hard by hurricanes, affected by high energy prices and a bias towards fossil fuels. Decentralized renewable energies are seen as a necessity to provide resilience to the onslaught of climatic phenomena, grid stability in the face of the inevitable transition to electromobility and grid parity, which will altogether boost innovation and knowledge transfer, as well as stimulate national economies with job creation and better energy prices," added Alexander Larios.