Trinidad and Tobago considering solar, wind energy

Energy Minister has said that investments in renewable energy technologies—such as solar and wind power—were being considered following concerns that local non-renewable energy reserves were diminishing.

In an address entitled, “Combating the economic challenge—Alternatives to oil and gas within the Caribbean region,” Enill referred to “the successful implementation” of a pilot solar water heating project in T&T. The Trinidad and Tobago Pilot Solar Water Heating (SWH) programme was a joint initiative of Enill’s Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Public Utilities and the Environment, the Tobago House of Assembly, the Tourism Development Company, bpTT and the T&T Solar Energy Society.

It was aimed at establishing renewable energy policies that would, among other things, reduce operating cost at homes, determine the efficiency of locally made SWH systems and reduce the use of fossil fuel in the production of electricity for water heating. Officials at the Ministry of Energy told that it was able to get the cooperation of a number of private and public sector agencies including a key player in the oil and gas sector to contribute funds to the pilot study, which promoted the utilisation of renewable energy.

The commercial viability of locally made solar water heaters was said to have been investigated and used to determine the efficiency of converting solar energy, which was inexhaustible and pollution-free heat.

Solar heating systems were installed in bed and breakfast homes both in Trinidad and in Tobago through the United Nations Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP). The host homes in the programme included Chateau Guillaumme, Arima; Home Sweet Home, Fondes Amandes, St Ann’s; Leo’s Place, Trincity; Le Grande Almandier, Grande Riviere; Second Spring, Blanchisseuse and Sand Dollar, Mayaro.

“The Government is of the view that T&T has tremendous opportunities for the development of renewable sources of energy. “Tremendous potential opportunity also exists for the development of a renewable energy products industry in T&T, which could create opportunities for employment, domestic utilisation and export of products.” Enill said that the Government in February appointed a Renewable Energy Committee (REC), mandated to develop proposals for various sources of renewable energy.

“The initial task of this committee is to produce a green paper for public discussion with respect to renewable energy development. “From this a white paper would emerge with a policy to guide the development of renewable energy within T&&T,” he said.

“The subsequent legislation and regulations are expected to give official declaration to use of sources of renewable energy in the energy mix of T&T.” He said that while the official process, (a reference to the work of the Renewable Energy Committee) is underway, “opportunities for projects in solar water heating as well as projects in wind power and photovoltaic would be considered for full-scale implementation as soon as the necessary legal framework is in place.”

In a recent interview, Enill told that producing solar energy was 90 per cent cheaper than it was in the 1970s. He said that wind energy cost roughly between US 9 to 11 cents per kilowatt. Enill referred to the establishment of wind farms in Cuba and Jamaica and singled out the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Plan for special mention for its role in advising and assisting governments in initiatives geared towards the development of renewable energy in the region.

“In Cuba, one wind farm has been constructed to date in Isla de Juventud, the Isle of Youth. It is a small wind farm consisting of six, three-blade wind turbines. These can produce 1.65 megawatt (MW) of power each, when there is a steady wind. “The Wigton Wind Farm in Jamaica was designed to produce 20 MW of power.

“In addition, Cuba, as well as in Jamaica, (takes) bagasse from sugarcane (and it) is used for the production of limited amounts of electricity.” Enill said that the use of local renewable energy technologies would be aimed at sectors such as the transportation and manufacturing sectors. He said a priority list of projects for these renewable energy technologies would be developed in the short, medium and long term.

Trinidad and Tobago lie in the Caribbean Sea off the northeast coast of Venezuela. Trinidad, the larger at 1,864 sq mi (4,828 sq km), is mainly flat and rolling, with mountains in the north that reach a height of 3,085 ft (940 m) at Mount Aripo. Tobago, at just 116 sq mi (300 sq km), is heavily forested with hardwood trees. Total area: 1,981 sq mi (5,131 sq km). Population (2010 est.): 1,228,691.