A powerhouse line-up of women leaders, representing islands across the Caribbean and Hawaii, gave their perspectives on a broad scope of Caribbean clean energy topics including how Covid has impacted the energy transition, the impact on project pipelines and how policymakers and multilaterals are responding. This discussion took place during a webinar on Wednesday, October 21, hosted by New Energy Events and moderated by Racquel Moses, CEO of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator.
Malaika Masson, Senior Regional Energy Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) acknowledged the heavy blow Covid’s impact is having to the development and progress of the Caribbean economy but is optimistic in terms of its outlook. “Elections across the Caribbean are ushering in new and hopefully emboldened leadership and continued fall in technology prices…..which will transform the economics for renewables”, she said. Emphasizing the critical role governments play, she noted that “with cheaper technology and digitization at our fingertips, our energy leaders can be critical enablers of the energy transition.”
In the Dominican Republic, Karina Chez, Managing Partner, KAYA Energy discussed the government’s approach to renewable energy. “The new administration is very open to technology and innovation…they are talking about smart cities, resilience and a real transition to clean energy…there’s some savviness and know-how there that gives us a lot of confidence.”
Assessing the impact of Covid from a deals perspective, Ava Tomlin, Regional Director, for BMR Energy advised that the islands that are moving forward “are the ones that didn’t really stop including Jamaica…and the Cayman Islands”. These islands were “least impacted by Covid [and] have the ability to respond faster and therefore remain focused on their renewable energy or energy transition plan”.
In Hawaii, Lorraine Akiba, a former utility regulator and currently the President & CEO of LHA Ventures, discussed the role the energy sector is playing in supporting businesses and communities through the pandemic. “Keeping the [green] energy pipeline going is very important….both utilities have committed to $4bn worth of projects in 2021”. She also emphasized the role Hawaii can play in sharing lessons learned and best practices for the Caribbean. “When you get to a high penetration of renewables like we are…we are at 50% [renewables] during the day in Kauai, you have to think of other strategies in terms of reliability and running the grid and technology plays that role”
Questions came in thick and fast from the audience and our panelists weren’t able to respond to all of them. The webinar will be replayed during the 12th Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum and will include live Q&A with the panelists. View the recording here.