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How to Accelerate the Development of Renewable Energy in the Caribbean Island States – An Analysis of the Major Obstacles and How to Derive Practical Recommendations (Goldammer and Blechinger 2016)

Kathrin Goldammer, Philipp Blechinger

Policy paper KAS, Peru, October 12, 2016

Caribbean islands are known for their abundance of natural resources that can be used for sustainable energy. This includes both high solar irradiation levels for photovoltaic (PV) power generation, as well as high and constant wind speeds for the operation of wind turbines. In addition, many mountainous and volcanic islands allow the operation of water and geothermal power plants (IRENA, 2012). However, despite this resource wealth, the development of renewable energy power plants takes place relatively slow. Therefore, nowadays about 97% of electricity production in the Caribbean island States is based on the incineration of imported fossil fuels, which not only causes high electricity costs of around 30 US cents/kWh, but also massive climate-damaging emissions (MacIntyre et al, 2016). The paradox is that studies show that the implementation of renewable energy sources would clearly reduce both fossil fuel consumption and electricity generation costs on Caribbean islands (Blechinger et al, 2016; Shirley & Kammen, 2013; Wright, 2011). What is in the way of developing a sustainable energy supply? In this policy paper we will highlight the main barriers against renewable energy expansion and identify possible solutions to overcome them. The main obstacles are: The regulatory and political framework, the cost and funding opportunities and the market power of conventional energy suppliers (Blechinger, 2015; Ince, 2013).

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