FINDING innovative ways to spur investment in making electricity infrastructure climate resilient took centre-stage recently as Caribbean energy stakeholders participated in the Island Resiliency Action Challenge.
The event was part of the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum 2019 (CREF) which was held in Miami, Florida co-sponsored by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) with support from the Government of Canada through the Canadian Support to the Energy Sector in the Caribbean Fund.
The reality of the intense hurricanes which the Region has faced in recent years loomed large as participants brainstormed resilience-building solutions. The focus was on overcoming barriers to building climate resilient power systems.
“Extreme weather events linked to climate change are becoming the new normal” CDB Vice-President, Operations, Monica La Bennett informed participants as she opened the session.
She cautioned that, “Incorporating resilience features into all infrastructure projects is no longer an option, but a necessity.”
The cost of doing just that occupied the minds of the participants as they presented strategies to improve resilience, and mobilise financing for climate resilient electricity infrastructure cost effectively to enhance export competitiveness.
The winning proposal for a regional blended finance instrument incorporating equity, impact investment, mezzanine and debt as well as a risk mitigation window, will be worked on, over the next year, by a task force selected from the winning team.
La Bennett also urged the gathering to consider ways of using digital technology to support resilience building and to encourage private sector involvement in generating and implementing innovative resilience building solutions.
“There may be opportunities for more indigenous resilience solutions, which could also possibly engage private practitioners/small businesses, our universities and research centres. This could potentially enhance business opportunities and growth while improving resilience,” said La Bennett.
CREF is the largest gathering of the Caribbean’s energy market. Over 500 representatives from governments, utilities, multilateral institutions, renewable energy firms and academia are attending this year’s event.