IDB supports sustainable energy in the Caribbean

WASHINGTON, United States, January 29, 2009 – Barbados, Bahamas and eventually other Caribbean countries will explore cutting-edge alternatives to lower their dependency on fossil fuels and improve their energy security with four grants approved by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

For the Bahamas, the IDB has approved two technical cooperation grants totalling US$1.45 million to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of the Environment, which oversees the energy sector. The funds will also enable the Bahamas Electricity Company to explore energy efficiency and renewable energy alternatives, including solar power, waste to energy and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), a new technique that enables tropical islands to produce both power and desalinated water.

The grants will also support ongoing efforts to reform the country’s regulatory, financial and fiscal frameworks in order to achieve a sustainable energy matrix, and to encourage energy efficiency in public, commercial and residential buildings.

In Barbados, a US$1 million IDB grant will underwrite the development of a Sustainable Energy Framework that will contribute to achieve affordable and sustainable energy and minimise dependency on fossil fuels. The Bank said it will enable the government to test energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions, study bioenergy and solar alternatives and develop regulatory and financial incentives to promote sustainable energy.

“These are the first steps towards reducing the foreign oil dependency, increasing energy security and promoting sustainable energy in the energy matrix that the IDB has supported in each of these countries,” said Christiaan Gischler, the IDB project team leader.

The IDB will also provide a US$1 million grant to launch the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency Action Programme (CHENACT). This project will finance the adoption of energy saving technologies in the region’s small, medium and large hotels, helping them to reduce one of their largest operating costs. Studies have estimated that hotels in the Caribbean could lower their energy bills by up to 20 per cent by investing in efficient lighting, air conditioning and related technologies.

“This project will provide essential inputs for understanding the potential for reducing energy consumption and for assessing carbon emission reductions as a prelude to obtaining carbon credits,” said Gischler. “Since 90 per cent of the energy matrix in the Caribbean is fossil fuel based, any energy saving translates directly into carbon emission reductions.”

This programme will also partner with the United Nations Environmental Programme to help hotels phase out the use of ozone-depleting substances in chillers, air conditioners and refrigerators. The programme will begin in Barbados, with the goal of replicating its methodology in other Caribbean countries.