The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is currently developing a national energy policy green paper that recognizes renewable energy’s (RE) combined with energy efficiency (EE) and utilization of compressed natural gas in the transportation sector, inter-alia, as important strategies for the promotion of sustainable development of the nation. The Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries is currently spearheading a number of initiatives in this regard.
A major challenge to the promotion of RE relates to subsidized domestic energy product prices which makes it difficult for RE (with high upfront costs) to compete in the local scenario. This has also militated against energy efficiency and contributes to wastage. To address these and other barriers and create a platform for development over the long term, the following are the principal measures/instruments being employed.
- fiscal support mechanisms: tax credits, import duty exemptions, 0-rating for VAT purposes, wear and tear allowances etc.
- legislative support: amendment to the T&TEC Act and the RIC Act
- Government to lead by example eg. RE installations in government buildings including hospitals, medical clinics and schools
- Education and training initiatives: inclusion of RE and EE in education curricula of schools, workshops to engage personnel who would be directly engaged in the RE industry eg. technicians/electricians including T&TEC inspectorate, teachers, ‘do-it-yourself’ individuals
- Awareness creation re. communication fairs, workshops, various media, micromarketing of incentives for RE and EE
- Strategic pursuits including RE installations in community centres which would also serve as demonstration centres and thereby promote education and awareness.
Collaboration/cooperation at the regional/international level is essential in moving forward with plans and programmes and such collaboration that is currently taking place includes: ongoing collaboration with the CARICOM on the promotion of CARICOM Energy Month ; collaboration with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) on the greening of 2 community centers to incorporate RE and EE technologies and systems; collaboration with the UNEP/Riso Center in training on the CDM mechanism and in identifying a pipeline of projects for CDM funding; and, collaboration with the US DOE on the establishment of a Regional RE Research Center in Trinidad and Tobago – an MOU to effect this has been developed and this document is expected to be signed in the near future.