PM Browne makes a case for Funding at Caribbean Energy Security Summit

PM GASTON BROWNE

WASHINGTON, District of Columbia,USA 26th January, 2015..Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda the Hon. Gaston Browne has made a case for countries in the region to receive grant and concessionary funding to catalyze investments in renewable energy sources and to mitigate the risks involved with the development of some of the technologies, such as geothermal.

Speaking at the Caribbean Energy Security Summit in Washington, D.C. on Monday, hosted by US Vice-President Joseph Biden,Prime Minister Browne pointed out that taking renewable energy to another level will ensure energy security for the region.

Developing our renewable energy potential so that we are much better insulated from the vagaries of the hydrocarbon markets is the ultimate form of energy security our region needs. This collaboration should also address the issue of support for Research and Development: both access to R&D from the US and support for R&D conducted by our own regional institutions, PM Browne stated.

The Antiguan and Barbuda leader also made a case for wind energy and solar power.

For countries like Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados that do not have access to a renewable form of base load power like hydro or geothermal, the emphasis has to be on developing potential in wind and solar photovoltaic.

However, these sources are intermittent and cannot form the basis of a 100 percent transition away from fossil fuels, he noted.

What would bring these renewable sources into play as full diesel replacements is storage, which would allow the utility company to dispatch the power when it is needed,PM Browne concluded.

 

We are pleased to present below the full text of the Prime Ministers intervention at the Energy Summit in Washington:

 

 

Statement by Hon Gaston Brown

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda

on Monday 26th January 2015

Mr. Chairman,

We welcome this Conference and we thank Vice President Biden for organising it.

The peoples of the United States and the Caribbean have always enjoyed close relations.

Indeed, the links of families between the US and the Caribbean are closely intertwined.

Over the decades, the governments of the US and the Caribbean have sought to underpin the close historic relations of our people by meeting regularly at high levels of government.

Regrettably, in recent times, our governments have not been meeting with regularity, despite the enthusiasm for such meeting by Caribbean governments

Nor have we met at the level of Heads of Government despite President Obama undertaking in 2009 to do so.

But at a time when better understanding and swift responses are needed over a range of issues that pose threats to our collective well-being, such meetings remain vital.

Without them, we will not achieve the level of appreciation of the difficulties that our countries face, nor will be able to give the level of co-operation that is necessary to address them in our joint interest.

However, this Meeting provides an opportunity for a new beginning  one which we hope will allow us to address a number of issues that weaken our relationship including areas of finance, trade and honouring decisions of the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organisation.

Mr Chairman, the issue of energy security is critical to Caribbean Member States.

It is quintessential to the growing of our economies, and reducing reliance on expensive and volatile petroleum products.

The majority of CARICOM countries have been unable to transition to renewable energy, not because of a lack of commitment but because of a lack of capital, especially access to concessional funding.

In this connection, while the proposed declaration from this Meeting summit outlines an architecture of cooperation to address energy challenges facing the region, it does not go far enough.

Indeed it does not go to the core of the issue which is finance.

The draft statement focuses on promoting regulatory reform in the draft declaration.

However, most, if not all of our governments have already embarked on regulatory reform.

There is also an emphasis on promoting natural gas as a better, cleaner fuel.

While natural gas does have these characteristics and we would appreciate the US liberalizing the export of natural gas to Caricom, it is not the long term solution for all of the countries of our region.

Our countries need funding, both grant and concessionary, to catalyze investments in renewable energy sources and to mitigate the risks involved with the development of some of the technologies, such as geothermal.

Developing our renewable energy potential so that we are much better insulated from the vagaries of the hydrocarbon markets is the ultimate form of energy security our region needs.

This collaboration should also address the issue of support for Research and Development: both access to R&D from the US and support for R&D conducted by our own regional institutions.

For countries like Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados that do not have access to a renewable form of base load power like hydro or geothermal, the emphasis has to be on developing potential in wind and solar photovoltaic.

However, these sources are intermittent and cannot form the basis of a 100 percent transition away from fossil fuels.

What would bring these renewable sources into play as full diesel replacements is storage, which would allow the utility company to dispatch the power when it is needed.

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Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the assistance of the US in engaging OPIC, other US private sector entities and other institutions to participate in the creation of a funding mechanism for renewable energy projects in the Caricom Community.

However, what is also required is a commitment from the US government to provide Caricom countries with concessional funding for alternate energy.

Such concessional funding and the sharing of research and development findings with the region are what would truly make a difference.

Caricom would therefore welcome a commitment for funding by the US government to be enshrined in the joint statement of this Meeting.

The stability and security of our hemisphere requires each of our nations to extend a helping hand where it is needed in a spirit of genuine cooperation.

Thank you.

 

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