Renewable energy sector development in the Caribbean: Current trends and lessons from history

Significance Statement

The Sustainable Islands Group at RAEL is involved in understanding the scope for renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Small Island Developing State (SIDS) context. We conduct assessments and build decision support tools for policy makers and project developers to support the build out of sustainable, low carbon island economies. We are involved in a number of projects that involve feasibility analysis, resource optimization and energy system modelling both in the Atlantic and across the Pacific. This work discusses renewable energy sector development in the Caribbean. Our work, models and reports can all be found at:  

Renewable energy sector development in the Caribbean

Journal Reference

Energy Policy, Volume 57, June 2013, Pages 244–252.

Rebekah Shirley, Daniel Kammen.

Energy and Resources Group, University of California, 310 Barrows Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA AND
Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

Island regions and isolated communities represent an understudied area of not only clean energy development but also of innovation. Caribbean states have for some time shown interest in developing a regional sustainable energy policy and in implementing measures which could help to protect its member states from volatile oil markets while promoting reliance on local resources. Here we examine four case studies of renewable energy advancements being made by public utility companies and independent energy companies in the Caribbean. We attempt to locate renewable energy advances in a broader historical framework of energy sector development, indicating a few policy lessons. We find that different degrees of regulatory and legislative sophistication have evolved in different islands. Islands should have specialized policy focus, contrasting the ad-hoc nature of current regional energy policy discussion. We also conduct a cost benefit analysis which shows that these early, innovative alternative energy projects show themselves to be both profitable and significant sources of emissions reduction and job creation. This lends support to the potential benefits of regional energy policy.

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