News

Paris, FRANCE — Caribbean leaders yesterday announced the launch of a new public-private coalition to create the world’s first “climate-smart zone” in the region, which is still reeling from the unprecedented devastation wrought by recent hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Supported by funding and resources from the Inter-American Development Bank Group, the World Bank Group and the Caribbean Development Bank, the voluntary coalition comprises governments, regional and global public institutions, business and civil society working together to adopt and scale novel approaches to climate-smart infrastructure. With an estimated budget of US$6m – US$10m for a three-year period, it is being established to catalyse billions more public and private resources.

It aims to find a way to break through the systemic obstacles that stop finance flowing to climate-smart investments to bring greater energy and infrastructure resilience to communities across the region as the likelihood of future extreme weather events increases.

The announcement came at the One Planet Summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, to review progress made on the Paris Agreement adopted by governments two years ago, yesterday.

The coalition’s charter says: “We seize this moment in 2017 to reject business-as-usual approaches and to envision a better future for the planet in which Caribbean nations and their peoples may prosper and thrive in the face of climate change, by implementing their own commitments with the help of partners while serving as global exemplars and path-finders for action needed by the global community.”

Coalition members will help to establish partnerships that can make investment deals happen. They will also bring their collective abilities together to break down the technological and financial barriers which represent the last obstacles to Caribbean people grasping the transformational opportunities that are in reach.

Specifically, the coalition’s work will focus on catalysing four initial critical priorities:

  • Scale renewable energy as rapidly as possible to help free Caribbean countries from the high cost of imported fossil fuels and the high vulnerability of centralised distribution systems.

    • Build low-carbon and resilient infrastructure, including nature-based approaches, to better withstand future extreme weather events.

    • Create innovative financing models such as a debt-for-resilience swap initiative in exchange for demonstrated progress on policy reforms, and investments to strengthen resilience and promote climate-smart growth pathways. Build platforms to help facilitate the large public and private investments required.

    • Strengthen the capacity of Caribbean countries and key regional institutions to plan for long-term resilience and climate- smart growth strategies.

    “Caribbean leaders have come together as a powerful collective to build a better future for the people of the Caribbean. We welcome the financial commitments from our partners – around US$1.3 billion for recovery efforts and US$2.8 billion toward the vision shared by all members of the coalition and others. This is a great first step,” said prime minister of Grenada and Chair of Caricom, Keith Mitchell.

    “Now we need to turn this possibility into a set of realities that benefit all our people. We all need to work together to change the rules of the game to accelerate climate-smart financial flows for the Caribbean and other small island developing states. Together we can build thriving economies fuelled by clean energy, nature-based resilient design and innovation. The time for action is now,” he said.

    Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit said: “Despite the immense human suffering and economic damage caused by the recent hurricanes, the people of the Caribbean do not want to be just passive victims of climate change. Rather, they want to be active participants in designing and implementing solutions, and for their Caribbean region to serve as a beacon of hope for island nations all over the world.”

    Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, put things squarely into perspective.

    “The next hurricane season is only six months away, so achieving climate-smart and resilient development for the Caribbean is critical,” he said.

    “Affected individuals are the focus of the $5-billion recovery process, but this effort will only be successful if it involves the private sector, civil society and governments at all levels working together for a more resilient Caribbean. Last month, close to US$2.5 billion was pledged at a conference co-organised by Caricom and UNDP for recovery and resilience in the Caribbean, and it is our objective to facilitate joint efforts with the work of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition.”

    Luis Alberto Moreno, Inter-American Development Bank Group president, said: “The IDB Group reaffirms its continued and historical commitment to the Caribbean, and will work with leaders of the region to improve lives by creating climate-smart and vibrant economies where people are safe, productive, and happy. We hope that through this [Caribbean] Climate Smart Coalition, in addition to offering new affordable financing, we will use our wide physical presence on the ground to work closely with the people of the region to design their Caribbean of the future, today.”

    Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group president, said: “The Caribbean is in the ‘eye of the storm’, and we need coordinated international support to rebuild and better plan for the future. At the World Bank Group, we welcome the Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition and plan to support it so countries get back on their feet and are better able to deal with the growing frequency and intensity of storms and hurricanes.”

    Warren Smith, president of the Caribbean Development Bank, said: “The destruction our region experienced during the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season emphasises that we cannot afford to take a business-as-usual approach in tackling climate change. CDB therefore welcomes the establishment of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition. The bank shares the vision of the coalition, and we look forward to supporting and investing in solutions to accelerate progress towards achieving this goal.

    Comments also came from Sir Richard Branson, founder — Virgin Group; THE RISE Fund; Mary Robinson, chair of the Mary Robinson Foundation on Climate Justice; and Allen Chastanet, prime minister of St Lucia.

    “Ultimately, we will only win the battle on climate change when investments in climate action and broader resilience become the economically sensible decision to make every time,” Chastanet said.

    “It’s not just about protecting against negative impacts — climate action needs to be about enhancing competitiveness, creating jobs, improving our economies. Otherwise, our people cannot make the sacrifices needed. I’m pleased by the level of support from our coalition partners and others. But I’m excited about the possibility for the Caribbean to incubate new powerful ideas and accelerate their implementation.”

    The charter has been adopted by Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, Turks and Caicos Islands, and US Virgin Islands.

Jamaica Observer

It’s a step in the right direction however LNG is not clean energy and will be going the way of coal plants in the not so distant future. Solar plus commercial energy storage is approaching… Jason Robinson, CEO Solar Buzz Jamaica

Ground has now been broken for the 200 megawatt cogeneration power station at Jamalco’s alumina refinery complex in Halse Hall, Clarendon.

New Fortress Energy is expected to hire 425 persons during the construction stage of the planned US$265-million natural gas facility.

The plant is to be developed in two phases of 100 megawatts per hour each.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony this morning, Prime Minister Andrew Holness explained the components of the project.

He said the plant should help to ensure lower costs and lower emissions and will benefit the Jamaican economy.

New Fortress will also supply a 190 megawatt gas-fired power plant in Old Harbour, St Catherine, being developed by the Jamaica Public Service Company from its marine terminal at Portland Bight.

solar schools study

Hot off the presses, a new report released today by SEIA, The Solar Foundation, and Generation 180 shows vast growth in solar on K-12 schools in the United States. Solar capacity on our country’s schools has nearly doubled since the last version of this report in 2014, with 5,489 K-12 schools now powered by solar, totaling nearly 1,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity.

It’s no secret that many American schools are underfunded and classrooms often lack necessary resources for students to learn. Well, with the cost to install solar plummeting, schools are making the switch and seeing their electricity bills shrink, freeing up funds to use to strengthen what schools are here to do, which is teach our nation’s children.

The cost of a solar school installation pops off the page in this report, dropping 67% in the last decade and 19% last year alone. The result is a boom in installations allowing 4 million students in the United States to receive their education in a school powered by solar.

“There’s a reason solar is spreading so quickly across America’s school districts, and it’s pretty simple — when schools go solar, the entire community benefits,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO.

These 5,000+ schools are running with much lower electricity bills, and those savings can go toward higher pay for our nation’s teachers, school supplies, textbooks and other essential resources. An investment in solar on a school is a direct investment in that community. Plus, what could be better than a science and conservation lesson right on the school grounds?

“When schools go solar, the entire community benefits.” – SEIA CEO Abigail Ross Hopper

California schools lead the way in solar adoption with nearly 2,000 schools making the switch. But it’s notable that other states have picked up the pace including New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, and New York. These states are setting an example and laying the groundwork for other states to follow.

When a school goes solar and cuts their energy costs, that puts investment back into what matters most: the students. Learn more about the report here and see if your community’s school has made the smart choice to invest in their community and go solar.

CleanTechnica

DAROSA… automation will reduce the need for human capital

President and CEO of the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Emanuel DaRosa, in confirming that the company’s thrust into automation will result in job losses, said developing its technology is necessary for the company to remain relevant.

The talks of job losses comes amid an acknowledgement by the Canadian-born CEO that JPS has one of the most educated staff complement that he has ever worked with.

“I’ve often said that this is the most educated utility that I’ve ever worked or been associated with. There are more Master’s and PhDs and multiple degrees than I’ve seen in any other utility. At my last utility, I was one of the most learned people in that company and today I find myself with a senior management team with PhDs and different levels of education,” DaRosa told editors and reporters during the newspaper’s bi-weekly Monday Exchange.

“It is a different system from Jamaica to Canada and I did a lot of my learning on the job. But my assessment of JPS is that there are some gaps, but there is a lot to be proud of for the employees and for the country. Reliability can be better and it will have to be better,” he said. The event was held at the Jamaica Observer’sBeechwood Avenue location in Kingston.

Today, JPS employs 1,700 individuals. But that number is expected to be reduced as the company looks to implement technologies that will contribute to a more efficient organisation that is keen on the safety of its employees as well as the social development of Jamaica. Energy efficiency is also an integral part of JPS’ push to become a more modern and cleaner-energy provider.

Chief among the automation process is the roll-out of smart meters. The company plans on pumping US$25 million in the technology to tackle losses, which now stands at US$26.5 million; 18 per cent of which is due to theft and non-technical losses. The light and power company has quoted another US$10 million in bad debt each year.

“Automation will reduce the need for human capital, but it is also a requirement for JPS to remain efficient and relevant. If we ignore customer needs and alternatives that customers may have before them, then we will become obsolete, so it is important that we protect the jobs of our employees by being efficient,” DaRosa told the Caribbean Business Report.

He added that it would be recklessness on his part to be inefficient and continue to raise electricity prices because of gaps within the organisation.

“So it is something that the entire world is grappling with. More and more industries are requiring less human input into their operations. That’s the way of the world and its one that we at JPS can’t ignore. Right now we are looking at our entire organisation from top to bottom and where do we find efficiencies in the organisation. We are looking for opportunities to streamline the business; we have to do it for our investors, our customers, and to ensure that JPS is here for the long term,” he said.

Jamaica Observer

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley, addresses the signing of a US$15-million loan agreement between the Government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the implementation of the Energy Management and Efficiency Programme (EMEP). The signing took place on November 23 at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service in Kingston. At left is Minister of State in the Finance and Planning Ministry, Rudyard Spencer.

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley, says energy efficiency and conservation is a priority of the Government in order to reduce the dependence on high-cost imported fossil fuels.

He was speaking at the ceremony for the signing of a US$15-million loan agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the implementation of the Energy Management and Efficiency Programme (EMEP).

The sum is the second portion of a joint loan of US$30 million for the roll-out of the EMEP. The Government signed an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the first US$15 million on November 10.

“We, at the ministry, welcome the signing of this agreement, which we see as crucial in our efforts to develop a competitive energy environment, diversify our energy sources and improve energy efficiency,” said Dr Wheatley.

He noted that the $30-million EMEP will consolidate and expand on the achievements under other initiatives, which have resulted in savings of some 3.6 million kilowatt hours amounting to more than $131.5 million as at July 2017.

He noted that some 800 people in more than 40 ministries, departments and agencies have been trained through seminars and workshops in the areas of energy conservation and energy efficiency to augment some $1.1 billion worth of investment.

Such investments include application of the cool roof solutions and retrofitting and replacement of old-technology air-conditioning systems.

“With EMEP, there will be deepening of the retrofits to be undertaken, expanding to other government entities, such as those within the health, education and security sectors. There will also be even greater opportunities for us to promote fuel conservation in road transportation, and, very importantly, support for the Government’s electricity planning function – the Integrated Resource Plan,” Dr Wheatley said.

Statistics have shown that an estimated annual average of 20.4 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) were imported during the 2010-2015 period for use in the electricity, manufacturing and transportation sectors, with an average import value of US$1.9 billion. One aim of the EMEP is to reduce the amount of oil imported for energy production.

EMEP will be executed by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), which falls under the ministry.

Jamaica Observer

Wind and solar energy are the lowest cost options in most of the U.S., and that’ll make it very hard to stop the renewable energy freight train from running over fossil fuels.

Utilities that need to build new power generation facilities or replace old ones are going to have a hard time justifying anything but renewable energy in 2017 and beyond. Investment bank Lazard recently released its 11th analysis of the cost of new electricity generation, titled Lazard’s Levelized Cost Of Energy Analysis–Version 11.0, and showed that wind and solar energy are now cheaper than diesel, nuclear, coal, and in most cases natural gas.

Utilities and regulators are going to be hard-pressed to justify anything but renewable energy generation in the future. From Maine to Hawaii, the U.S.’s energy future is renewable.

Solar farm with wind turbines in the background. IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

How renewable energy costs stack up today

The table below shows Lazard’s analysis of the cost, on a per kWh basis, to build new power plants with different fuel sources and technologies. You can see that the lowest cost option is wind at 3 cents per kWh, followed by gas combined cycle that’s as cheap as 4.2 cents per kWh, and solar, which costs between 4.3 cents and 5.3 cents per kWh.

Energy source Low-End Estimate High-End Estimate
Crystalline Utility-Scale Solar PV 4.6 cents per kWh 5.3 cents per kWh
Thin-Film Utility-Scale Solar PV 4.3 cents per kWh 4.8 cents per kWh
Wind 3 cents per kWh 6 cents per kWh
Coal 6 cents per kWh 14.3 cents per kWh
Natural Gas Combined Cycle 4.2 cents per kWh 7.8 cents per kWh
Nuclear 12.2 cents per kWh 18.3 cents per kWh
Diesel 19.7 cents per kWh 28.1 cents per kWh
DATA SOURCE: LAZARD’S LEVELIZED COST OF ENERGY ANALYSIS–VERSION 11.0.

What you’ll also notice is that the range of costs is much wider for fossil fuels like natural gas. That’s because construction costs can be different depending on the state, fuel prices, and how often the plant is being used. Renewable energy, on the other hand, gets to cut to the front of the line on the grid, meaning nearly 100% of its electricity production is used, allowing for predictable electricity pricing.

What’s clear is that diesel, nuclear, and coal are all higher cost than both wind and solar energy on a per kWh basis. No matter how you slice it, renewable energy is winning versus fossil fuels on economics.

I’ll also point out that there’s no fuel cost risk for renewable energy. The wind and sun are zero-cost fuel sources, unlike extracted fuels, which could conceivably spike from current levels.

Trends are working against fossil fuels

It wasn’t long ago that Lazard’s analysis wasn’t so favorable to renewable energy. In 2010, version 4.0 of Lazard’s levelized cost of energy study had wind costs at 6.5-11.0 cents per kWh and solar at 13.4-19.4 cents per kWh. Natural gas, coal, and nuclear all beat solar on a cost basis, and in some cases beat wind.

Energy source Low-End Estimate High-End Estimate
Crystalline Utility-Scale Solar PV 13.4 cents per kWh 15.4 cents per kWh
Thin-Film Utility-Scale Solar PV 13.4 cents per kWh 18.8 cents per kWh
Wind 6.5 cents per kWh 11.0 cents per kWh
Coal 6.9 cents per kWh 15.2 cents per kWh
Natural Gas Combined Cycle 6.7 cents per kWh 9.6 cents per kWh
Nuclear 7.7 cents per kWh 11.4 cents per kWh
DATA SOURCE: LAZARD’S LEVELIZED COST OF ENERGY ANALYSIS–VERSION 4.0.

Clearly, the tides have shifted in the energy industry. Fossil fuels is at best flat and in some cases getting more expensive, while renewable energy costs are coming down every year. There’s no indication these trends will reverse course, and investors need to consider whether they’re using renewable energy’s growth as a tailwind for their portfolio or fighting the clear trends in energy. If these charts are any indication, fossil fuels’ days may be numbered.