Drivers and inhibitors of renewable energy: A qualitative and quantitative study of the Caribbean

Significance Statement

Many countries seek to exploit renewable energy resources for a sustainable economy and environment. However, they face challenges such as high upfront costs of developing renewable energy and lack of necessary funding.

Researchers from the Haskayne School of Business at University of Calgary in Canada made findings on the factors affecting development of renewable energy in the Caribbean and recommendations were provided on how best to make use of the factors identified. Their study appeared in Energy Policy.

A lot of researchers have related the degree of development of renewable energy technologies to institutional factors or environmental innovation. However, despite all the previous research, it remains unclear the extent to which these institutional factors influence the development of renewable energy technologies.

According to background reviews and research in the Caribbean, factors such as level of legislative and regulatory sophistication and differences in ownership structure of electricity utilities play major roles in the development of renewable energy industries both in the Caribbean and in the wider international context.

The Caribbean is made up of small island states in an area where the development of renewable energy technology is favourable, due to its vulnerability to the impacts of climatic change, availability of renewable energy resources and dependence on imported fossil fuels, that makes them susceptible to price volatility and geopolitics associated with these fuels. At the same time the unique and isolated ecosystem of the Caribbean can serve as a natural laboratory for study by bio-geographers and ecologists.

Ince et al. (2016) study partially replicates and extends previous research of Shirley and Kammen, Energy Policy, 2013. by replicating and extending personal interview-based case studies to the previously unstudied political jurisdictions in the Caribbean.

Ince et al. (2016) research explored in detail number of cases in selected political jurisdictions of  the Caribbean and a questionnaire survey-based was conducted on 34 out of the 36 political jurisdictions in the Caribbean.

For this study, grid-tied renewable energy technologies such as wind, solar and geothermal were explored and a two-phase methodology study was implemented; the first involving comparative case analysis through in-depth face-to-face interviews in 12 political jurisdictions in Caribbean and the second involving quantitative testing of emergent determinants and their interactions in questionnaire survey-based study in 34 out of 36 political jurisdictions in the  Caribbean.

The survey- based questionnaire  was designed to test the model developed in the qualitative phase that included 75 interviews in  12 jurisdictions in the Caribbean. The questions were tested to ensure external validity.

The second phase of the study, the quantitative analysis, included a survey of Caribbean energy stakeholders in order to determine the extent to which the relationships uncovered in the qualitative phase held in the wider 36 political jurisdictions in the Caribbean. Quantitative data collection was hosted online by CVENT Company that provides software for survey administration and event planning.

Based on coding results, the authors developed theoretical models for renewable energy development in Caribbean which proposed five major factors that influenced renewable energy industry development. These include local entrepreneurial attitudes, role of local champions, informal institutions, influence of incumbent electricity utility and influence of international agencies.

From these five factors explored in the qualitative study, Ince et al. (2016) suggested that the extent of entrepreneurial attitude in political jurisdiction, influence of local champions and pressure exerted by informal institutions in a political jurisdiction correlated positively with effectiveness of policies that promote renewable energy development within a political jurisdiction. The level of incumbent utility influence could potentially be positively or negatively correlated with the extent of renewable energy development.

The quantitative study indicated that the level of incumbent utility influence correlated negatively with the level of effectiveness of policies that promote renewable energy developments within a political jurisdiction. Meanwhile the level of informal institutions present correlates with the level of effectiveness of policies that promote renewable energy development.

Results of the quantitative analysis of phase II showed no statistically significant difference and no significant single informant bias when two responses from the same political jurisdiction were compared. Each possible pair of responses were compared if there were more responses from the same jurisdiction.

Results from multiple regression mode confirmed the researchers findings that the weaker the influence of an incumbent electric utility and the stronger the presence of informal institutions, the stronger the level of renewable energy development.

Drivers and inhibitors of renewable energy: A qualitative and quantitative study of the Caribbean. Renewable Energy Global Innovations

Journal Reference

David Ince, Harrie Vredenburg, Xiaoyu Liu. Drivers and Inhibitors of Renewable energy: A Qualitative and Quantitative study of The Caribbean.  Energy Policy, Volume 98, November 2016, Pages 700–712.

Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4, Canada.



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