Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum: New Partnerships, a Hopeful Future and a Sense of Urgency

There is much happening on the renewable energy front in the Caribbean. I would like to see Jamaica fully on board at this point. Are we?

Be that as it may… Do you know about Solar Head of State? They are a very interesting non-governmental organisation with a simple mission: to set up a solar photovoltaic system at every head of state’s executive residence around the world, thus building a coalition of global leaders committed to the concept of solar power – and in a sense, representing solar power with its presence in their buildings. Plans are afoot for Jamaica House to get on board. Saint Lucia is already there and is forging ahead with solar power. Well, I met up with Solar Head of State’s Director of Project Development James Ellsmoor in Jamaica recently, and it seems they are moving pretty fast with their plans.

James Ellsmoor of Solar Head of State is really enthusiastic about future plans. And of course, he believes in solar.

This year’s UN Conference on Climate Change (COP23) is a “SIDS” (Small Island Developing States) COP. It seems to me that island nations must indeed take up the mantle in championing solar energy. Look out for Mr. Ellsmoor at the upcoming Conference, which is hosted by Fiji (although actually located in Bonn)  – the first time a small island developing state has taken on such a role. Solar Head of State will host an event with the Pacific Island Development Forum and Pacific Heads of State on the first day of the conference

Meanwhile, at the recent Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF), which took place from October 18 – 20 in Miami, Solar Head of State formed a partnership with NAGICO, a Sint Maarten-based company providing insurance products across the region. NAGICO is very busy at present, as you can imagine. Sint Maarten/Saint Martin was one of the worst affected islands in the recent spate of hurricanes. The company is continuing its post-hurricane work in Anguilla, Dominica and Barbuda, also.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley (right), exchanges greetings with former U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Luis Moreno (left), with head of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson in the middle. This was at the opening of Blue Mountain Renewables (BMR) Jamaica Wind Project in Potsdam, St. Elizabeth on August 11. (Photo: JIS)

Speaking at the Forum in Miami, Jamaica’s Minister of Energy, Science and Technology Dr. Andrew Wheatley noted that recent climate events in the region have imbued the renewable energy thrust with a great deal more urgency. Speaking in generalities (albeit very relevant), Minister Wheatley noted:

“Rethinking energy demands that we collaborate more within and across geographical borders, strengthen policy and regulatory frameworks, provide access to financing for investment within the energy space, develop and deploy renewable and clean technologies, all together to provide energy access within the context of sustainable development. Our future depends on it.”

By the way, on October 19 the Forum announced seven projects as recipients of its first annual CREF Project Awards. One of these, for Best Utility Scale Wind, went to BMR Jamaica Wind Limited.

What I would like to see in Jamaica is not just words and speeches, but action on renewable energy. I would like to see solar equipment become much more affordable for the average Jamaican, and for solar (and wind) to become a part of the landscape. Let’s get serious about solar.

What are we waiting for?

P.S. To the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology: Your website looks lovely, but needs a lot more work and more information to be filled in. For example, the page on Renewable Energy Policy is sadly lacking, and your Media Centre desperately needs updating. Come on, now! 

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