Zaffar Khan, Kathryn Siriram and Kyren Griegg, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago
Purpose: Dependence on foreign energy supplies have resulted in some islands successfully harnessing alternative and renewable energy (RE) sources in order to provide a small degree of self-sufficiency. However, the development of T&T’s RE industry has stagnated largely due to the existence of substantial energy subsidies, which present cheap fuel and electricity prices thus providing a disincentive to RE investment. This paper seeks to re-enforce the necessity for an indissoluble Government intervention in the establishment of well designed, coordinated and innovative public-private partnerships for a successful RE industry in T&T.
Design/methodology/approach: This paper is based on a review of relevant social and economic literary sources; the research topic has been meticulously investigated.
Findings: Initial outcomes indicate that the principal facilitators of RE proliferation in the Caribbean, and more so T&T, will require (i) gradual reduction of the energy subsidy; (ii) declining project costs via fiscal incentives and grant financing; (iii) expectation of beneficial rates of return on investment through the guarantee of optimal prices for renewable electricity or the revenue gained from the sale of carbon credits; and (iv) capacity building, institutional strengthening and implementation of appropriate legislative and regulatory instruments which provide open access to the national grid.
Research limitations/implications: With the exception of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), Caribbean nations are heavily dependent on oil and gas imports to meet their primary energy requirements. The investigation conducted has limited documentation on cases of a similar nature within the region. The outcome of the steps identified above are based on conjecture using information gained from international situations.
Practical implications: The study helps clarify the crucial role of T&T’s government in the successful development of our RE industry. Resources and earnings should be used to develop T&T’s infant RE industry and hence reduce the carbon footprint of the nation.
Originality/value: Past attempts by the government to promote RE and EE in T&T have been passive and prevaricated. In addition to outlining the existing fiscal initiatives available to the population, this paper provides short, medium and long term recommendations for the sustainability of RE in T&T. While subsidy reform, among others, poses a challenge it is nonetheless imperative if T&T is to move forward. With our abundance of solar, wind and waste-to-energy resources there is great potential for a successful RE industry in T&T. More than just policy will be required to drive change; greater commitment by the government to ensure the sustainability and economic viability of T&T while also attempting to alter the mindset of the citizenry to act as effective stewards of the island’s resources for the wellbeing of future generations.
Keywords: Renewable, Energy, Subsidy, Incentives, Investment.