(CNS): The government has suggested that in the next twenty years it intends to massively reduce the country’s reliance of fossil fuels for energy and transport. In what may seem like an improbable target, officials have said that from a current starting point of a mere 0.9% of power generated from non-fossil fuels, by 2037 it will be producing 70% of its electricity from renewable sources. Releasing a copy of the latest national energy policy proposal for public consultation, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts, who has responsibility for energy, said the target is not only possible but it could be surpassed.
“I believe that the target of 70% renewable energy in our energy mix by 2037 is realistic and that it can, with careful and diligent implementation, be exceeded and therefore our combined efforts must be to not only achieve the target but to surpass it,” he said in the new policy document. Government wants the public to comment on the policy and take part in a survey over the next two weeks.
The premier has also offered his backing to the reduction in fossil fuel and what would ultimately be a major cut in Cayman’s carbon footprint. While our contribution on the global stage may be meagre compared to emissions of much larger countries, it is still important, he noted.
“As a small island nation that is extremely vulnerable to the impact of climate change, it is important that we do our part,” Alden McLaughlin said. “And in doing our part we, as a country and individually, can also benefit economically from being less reliant on fossil fuels.”
The latest National Energy Policy, which government said was based on the one laid in parliament at the end of the last government’s term in 2013, is expected to go to the Legislative Assembly sometime during the last sitting of this administration.
Officials said that the new draft reflects developments such as the Paris Agreement by parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as lower prices for oil and renewable energy.
Alongside the ambitious renewable energy targets, which will see Cayman generating near 65% of its energy from solar technologies and wind-power, there is also an ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gases dramatically. The most recent estimate from 2014 is that Cayman produces 12.3 tCO2e per capita. And given the country has obligations as a British Overseas Territory and party to the Paris Agreement to reduce that to 4.8 tCO2e per capita by 2050, during the next 20 years government will need to significantly accelerate reductions.
The policy document points to analysis that suggests the ambitious goals could be met and that achieving a minimum level of renewable energy delivered to the electricity supply system of at least 60% solar is entirely achievable. But the country could aspire to much more because officials believe that technological developments will drive costs down. Finding land for wind or solar generation could be a challenge, but the policy indicates that places such as mined-out quarries or the landfill (presumably after remediation) as well as roof tops could provide the land needed.
In a press release Tuesday about the policy, government said the “vision” in the document calls for a focus on “enhancing and embracing a sustainable lifestyle through responsible and innovative energy supply and consumption”.
Knowledge and education, energy security, sustainability and ambitions for the Cayman Islands to become a centre-of-excellence in renewable energy are also cited in the policy — despite the current absence of almost any sustainable energy use.
But policymakers believe that success will hinge in large part on the implementation of strategies relevant to the electricity sector.
A committee appointed in 2016, which included stakeholders from the public and private sector, drafted the policy that will be steered through parliament by the energy minister. But given that Tibbetts, the minister responsible for the policy, is still planning on retiring, whether it will ever be implemented remains to be seen.
Anyone interested in contributing to the public consultation can take the online survey here, and the deadline for general feedback is Monday 20 February. For more information, contact [email protected] or 244-2412.