BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, March 17, 2015 (AMG) — Regional energy security has been named as a cross-cutting theme in the Caribbean Development Bank’s new Strategic Plan for 2015-2019. This comes on the heels of a 2014 CDB study called ‘A New Paradigm for Caribbean Development: Transitioning to a Green Economy‘, in which the advantages of converting to renewable energy for increased energy efficiency were examined.
Despite low oil prices, the CDB is encouraging both private and public sectors to invest in sustainable energy in the form of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Through this energy security initiative, the CDB is offering more attractive interest rates for Eastern Caribbean countries investing in such projects.
Head of CDB’s renewable energy and energy efficiency unit, Tessa Williams-Robertson, said “we expect to be financing not only investments, but technical assistance for building capacity and strengthening legislative and regulatory frameworks.” Renewable energy projects the Bank will support primarily include solar, wind and geothermal energy, but other forms – such as bio-energy – will also be supported.
In 2014, the Bank’s ‘Changing the Caribbean’ projects included policy based loans (PBL) which provided resources at very low interest rates. Trinidad and Tobago received a USD$40 million loan for a project to convert the use of diesel and gasoline in fuel vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG).
Jamaica also benefitted from PBLs in 2014 with USD$35 million for assistance with debt and financial sustainability, improving the business environment for two percent sustainable growth rates, and alleviating potential adverse effects of the programme on Jamaica’s vulnerable groups.
At a February press conference in Barbados, President of the CDB, Dr. Warren Smith said that in aiming to transform the Caribbean, special focus was being put on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Smith explained that in 2014, a renewable energy/energy efficiency unit was established and has been working to build and strengthen new partnerships and to mainstream renewable energy and energy efficiency across the bank’s operations. Smith further stated that renewable energy and energy efficiency were key areas of focus for CDB because of their potential for transforming the Caribbean.