UNEP Risoe Centre signs agreement on renewable energy projects in the Caribbean

December 10, 2010

1 ½ years of intensive preparatory work is now finally written down in a binding agreement with the Ministry of 'housing and environment', in Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean. Senior Scientist Jørgen Villy Fenhann from the UNEP Risø Centre is pleased that this small oil state is now participating in a collaboration to reduce CO2 emissions for example by engaging in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects that have proven successful when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions in other developing countries.

There are plenty of good ideas to work with! A cement plant wants e.g. to switch from a wet to a dry process, both to increase efficiency, but also to reduce CO2 emissions, they also want to replace fossil fuel in the factory with used car tyres that otherwise would pollute at the dump and other places, and at last they want to recycle waste heat from their cement production into power generation.

These are just examples of one company's ideas, which came to light after Jørgen Fenhann and his colleague Søren Lütken from the UNEP Risø Centre, held workshops and meetings with potential entrepreneurs looking to get started using more green technologies and also to benefit from the CDM funds that are available.

"But it is crucial that the government supports the idea in developing countries, since it is their so-called Designated National Authority (DNA), which issues the approval of the project that says that it will contribute to the country's overall sustainability. This so called DNA is also responsible for communicating that the CDM projects are underway in the country." says Jørgen.

Large exports of oil and gas to the USA

Trinidad & Tobago consist of small islands with only about 1.3 million people, but what makes it interesting to help this particular area to get started, is that they have a large availability of fossil fuels like oil and gas in the underground. This again means that there is cheap power and cheap gasoline for cars.

"And when it's so cheap to buy fuel for the car - it costs approx. DKK 2.50 for a liter of petrol and DKK 1.50 for diesel - you simple drive a lot. This has also caused the country to be behind when it comes to working with environmentally friendly technologies and CDM projects. Because they simply don't have the same economic incentive to get started with CDM as in many other developing countries," explains Jørgen Fenhann .

CDM projects help developing countries build up capacity in the market for renewable energy and energy saving, instead of the extensive use of fossil fuel. UNEP has recently completed a large CDM project of 5-6 years, supported by the Dutch Foreign Ministry, and has now received support from the EU to embark on a new big project. The aim is to kick start the countries that are lacking behind in the ACP countries (Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific).

"Trinidad & Tobago therefore fit well within the criteria that have been set up for which countries we should engage in," says Jørgen.

One and a half year of hard work

When the agreement was to be signed in Port-of-Spain (the capital of the island of Trinidad), Jørgen was on his second visit within the one and half year where he has working to get the project in the Caribbean started.

"Among other things, we have been holding workshops and meetings where we have been able to talk directly with business owners and entrepreneurs. And it seems as though there are many who are open to the idea. And with their very fossil based community, there's really everything to be gained when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions. They actually emit more greenhouse gases than Denmark, even though our population is 4 times bigger", Jørgen explains.

In the next two years still more workshops will be organised and Jørgen Fenhann and Søren Lütken will work to upgrade the skills that are needed to benefit from the CDM system. For example, they must know how to apply and what criteria they have to meet to get funding.

Worldwide there are now 5-6000 submitted CDM projects, but very few of them are located in the Caribbean. Therefore the Caribbean is a large and untapped potential for cutting down CO2 emissions.

Risoe National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, the Technical University of Denmark

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