Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago

Speech of Ambassador Biesebroek at the Clean Energy Conference, 2017

Port-of-Spain, 08/06/2017 - 17:49, UNIQUE ID: 170608_27
Speeches of the Ambassador

This clean energy conference is about climate change and mitigation. But it is also about the economic opportunities and fiscal benefits that investments in clean energy may bring. The recent withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement has strengthened the European Union's resolve to combat the adverse effects of climate change that have already become visible. We are committed and ready to lead this battle for the benefit of future generations. And we are ready to work with our partners in this shared endeavour.

      Clean Energy Conference 2017

“Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in a Hydrocarbon Economy”

June 08th – 09th, 2017

 

WELCOME SPEECH

 

Mr. Franklin Khan, Minister of Energy and Energy Industries

Mr. Selwyn Lashley, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy

Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other representatives of the Diplomatic Corps

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

  1. It is a great pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the European Union to this first ever stand–alone conference in Trinidad and Tobago on the vital topic of clean and sustainable energy. This conference is a joint initiative between the Energy Chamber, the European Union, the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs and the Ministry of Planning and Development. It aims to support the country’s transition to clean, efficient and modern energy services as a cornerstone for its sustainable development, and its plans to diversify the economy. I am delighted to open this conference on behalf of the European Union.
  2. This clean energy conference is about climate change and mitigation. But it is also about the economic opportunities and fiscal benefits that investments in clean energy may bring.
  3. The recent withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement has strengthened the European Union's resolve to combat the adverse effects of climate change that have already become visible. We are committed and ready to lead this battle for the benefit of future generations. And we are ready to work with our partners in this shared endeavour. Today, I will speak about the EU commitments and plans, and I will highlight the opportunities that I think exist in Trinidad and Tobago.
  4. Trinidad and Tobago is currently at the exact same cross-road as several European (and other) oil and gas producing countries. The domestic economy is heavily reliant on energy products and therefore highly susceptible to any abrupt changes in the sector. Domestic oil and gas production are in steady decline, which renders fossil fuel reserves a valuable asset. Facing these realities, the countries have started thinking about the optimal utilization of these natural resources. These reflections alongside other considerations - such as combatting climate change and enhancing energy security - have led the European countries towards the formulation of a 'common sustainable energy vision' with a projection for the next 10 to 15 years.
  5. In line with the Paris agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, the EU is targeting a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2027 while the CARICOM region is aiming even higher, for a 46% cut. Trinidad and Tobago has committed to reduce its GHG emissions from power generation, transportation and industrial sectors by 15% by 2030, with the aim of achieving emissions reductions of 30% in the public transportation sector in the same timeframe.
  6. In terms of the share of Renewables in the energy mix, the EU has set a target of 27% by 2030. Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago has set the target of generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2021, with an ambition to look beyond. The optimum pathway for the achievement of this target is yet to be defined and it is one of the objectives of this conference.  
  7. As regards Energy Efficiency, the EU targets a 27% improvement by 2030, while CARICOM region has set a higher target of 33% by 2027. I understand that policymakers in Trinidad and Tobago also recognize the importance and potential of reducing energy consumption and promoting energy efficiency in all sectors.
  8. These targets send clear political messages to the private sector: we are serious about the transformation to clean and sustainable energy. While our regions and countries share this similar background and vision, we differ in that the EU has embarked on its sustainable energy journey almost 20[1] years ago, while Trinidad and Tobago has only begun this process in earnest in the last few years.
  9. We are eager to share the valuable insights gained over the last 20 years and exchange what we consider to be our “success stories” in this energy transformation process. That also includes the lessons learned from our support to other nations around the world. 
  10. During the next two days, we will debate the three pillars needed for a real energy transformation, namely:

 i) enabling regulatory frameworks,

 ii) the deployment of new commercially viable technologies and

iii) the engagement of private sector.

In this process we aspire to contribute setting a long-term and clear sustainable energy vision for the country up to 2030.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Transformation is the key word here. We are at the dawn of a new era with smarter and cleaner technologies available for all areas of the economy and society. All the elements for success are in place, even if fragmented:
  2. Falling technological costs have made renewables far more competitive today than ever before and introducing more renewables in your energy mix eventually decreases energy prices while it leads to cleaner air, enhances security of supply, and creates jobs. As such, it can help make countries healthier and wealthier.
  3. Energy efficiency can reap similar rewards. Building codes promoting energy efficiency are a good example of how resources and money can be saved. Energy efficiency can also create jobs. To give you an example: close to a million people across the European Union were employed in selling energy efficiency goods and services in 2010.
  4. The country has a highly educated and skilled workforce and a strong private sector.
  5. It makes perfect sense for Trinidad and Tobago to take advantage of these opportunities and reap its renewable and energy efficiency potential.
  6. For the energy transformation to happen, it is clear that significant investments have to be made. Of course there has to be a business case to invest and a reason to buy and use these renewable energy and energy efficient technologies. I believe that case can be made. If electricity is currently subsidized, introducing solar power would help reduce the costs for producing electricity and reduce Government spending on subsidies. We will hear today what potential financial gains could be made. 
  7. The current policy and regulatory environment, however, does not favour such investments and the first priority for the country should be to create an enabling environment for low-carbon technologies.
  8. The Conference can contribute to the dialogue on energy policy and strategy, as well as for the development of the appropriate regulatory framework and I hope that this conference will be the catalyst for fostering clean energy by setting a clear vision for the country’s sustainable transformation.
  9. The EU Technical Assistance Facility representative, Mr Ioannis Stefanou has been working with the Government and other stakeholders to prepare a paper that is a basis for the discussion later today. The aim is to solicit your feedback that would permit the finalization of a concrete Road Map for the right energy mix in the case of Trinidad and Tobago.
  10. Finally, the European Union also recognizes that Governments may not be able to ensure these investments from public funds alone. The private sector can and, I understand is willing, to play an important role. The EU can provide support to mitigate part of the risk for financiers and the industry. Two innovative financing instruments give the private sector access to attractive grant-loan funding schemes: the Caribbean Investment Facility and the Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI). Both facilities aim at leveraging financing of investments in essential infrastructure through loans and or equity by making grant funding available to reduce the risk for instant through loan guarantees or assistance with feasibility studies. My colleague from the EIB, Mr Floris Vermeulen, will provide you with more details about these instruments in his presentation.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Rest assured that the European Union will continue supporting Trinidad and Tobago in taking forward its efforts to meet its Paris Agreement commitments through the introduction of renewables and energy efficiency.

Thank you very much for your attention.

 

 

[1] EU White Paper on RES first published in 1997

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