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The renewable revolution: Ten potential consequences of moving to green energy in the Caribbean

By Central Bank of Barbados

Renewable energy has emerged as a pivotal force of transformation in the Caribbean, promising a brighter and more sustainable future for the region. Against the backdrop of sun-soaked islands, brisk ocean winds, and geothermal potential, the Caribbean countries are altering course and moving away from traditional fossil fuels to harness the abundant power of nature.

This conversion is not merely an environmental imperative, but also a strategic response to the challenges of energy security, economic diversification, and climate resilience that the region faces. As the Caribbean sets sail on this innovative voyage towards renewable energy, it navigates uncharted waters, guided by the promise of cleaner skies, job creation, and enhanced energy independence. But what does green energy really mean for the Caribbean?

Energy independence 

According to the World Bank, for some Caribbean islands, the cost of energy (US$ cost per kWh), is more than double the average price in the United States, reaching over US $0.40 per kWh in some instances. At the same time, several islands generated more than 80 – 90 percent of their electricity using imported fossil fuels. Combined, this makes our very energy supply vulnerable to local economic uncertainty. As such, transitioning to green energy reduces dependence on fossil fuel imports, enhancing energy security and sovereignty.

Reduced environmental impact

Green energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power produce little to no greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants. This helps mitigate the effects of climate change, reduces air pollution, and preserves the natural beauty of the Caribbean’s ecosystems.

Stable energy costs

Green energy sources have lower operating and maintenance costs compared to fossil fuels. By utilising the renewable resources that are abundant in the Caribbean (such as sunlight and wind), the region can stabilise its energy costs, reducing the impact of fluctuating global oil prices.

Job opportunities

The transition to green energy necessitates the development, installation, and maintenance of renewable energy systems. This creates job opportunities in various sectors, including manufacturing, construction, engineering, and research. Moreover, green energy investments attract foreign capital and expertise, fostering technological innovation and boosting the growth of related industries. This diversification can also lessen the region’s reliance on tourism and other sectors that are susceptible to external shocks.

Resilient communities

Many Caribbean islands are prone to extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and tropical storms. Green energy technologies can be integrated with energy storage systems to provide reliable power during disruptions, enhancing community resilience and disaster preparedness.

New tourism opportunities

The Caribbean’s natural beauty and ecosystems are prime attractions for tourists. Embracing green energy can not only ensure these drawing cards are preserved but also enhance the region’s reputation as an environmentally responsible destination, appealing to eco-conscious travellers and contributing to sustainable tourism growth.

Healthier citizens

Shifting away from fossil fuels reduces air pollution, which is associated with respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular problems, and other health issues. Green energy adoption can lead to improved air quality and better overall public health.

Technological innovation

Embracing green energy encourages innovation and technological advancement in the energy sector. The Caribbean can become a hub for renewable energy research, development, and implementation, fostering economic growth and technological progress.

Better access to electricity in remote areas

Some Caribbean communities, particularly in remote or underserved areas, lack access to reliable electricity. Green energy solutions such as solar microgrids can provide these communities with clean and sustainable power sources, improving their quality of life.

Long-term sustainability

Fossil fuels are finite resources, whereas renewable energy, by definition, is sustainable and abundant. By adopting green energy, the Caribbean can ensure a long-term and sustainable energy future for generations to come.

The impacts of a shift towards green energy are far-reaching and multi-dimensional, touching not only the energy landscape, but the very fabric of Caribbean societies and ecosystems. As renewable technologies harness the power of the sun, wind, and geothermal resources, they are weaving a new narrative of resilience, economic empowerment, and environmental stewardship.

The Caribbean, once at the mercy of imported fossil fuels and vulnerable to the capriciousness of nature, is emerging as a beacon of sustainability – a testament to the potential of harnessing nature’s bounty to illuminate a brighter future for both the islands and the world. Through the prism of green energy, the Caribbean is rewriting its story and forging a path towards a harmonious coexistence with its breathtaking landscapes and forging a model of progress that resonates beyond its turquoise shores.

Watch the Caribbean Economic Forum, “What Does Moving to Green Energy Mean for Us?” on Wednesday, September 6 at 8:00 p.m. on the Central Bank of Barbados’ Facebook page or YouTube channel to hear more about how green energy can positively impact you. Learn what’s being done, the hurdles we will face and how we can overcome them, and what individuals, communities, businesses, and Governments can do to support the transition.

The above article was submitted to stimulate discussion ahead of the September edition of the Central Bank of Barbados’ Caribbean Economic Forum. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Central Bank.



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