Hydrogen used as an energy carrier or a fuel has the potential to be a renewable, sustainable and practical energy source. Collectively, these energy and environmental benefits will help to achieve our National objectives in developing an alternate source of energy that is available, clean and convenient. Successful implementation will result in reducing our Nation’s reliance on fossil fuels which are limited, imported and environmentally harmful. In addition, these initiatives are critical to the success of our Nation in terms of Global economic competitiveness, expanding economic growth, decreasing the dependency on imported petroleum fuels, revitalizing our industrial capabilities, and reducing the emission of harmful pollutants.
In the 1990s, hydrogen technologies were being developed for use in the utility (electric generation, process steam, co-generation), commercial and residential, and transportation sectors (light duty ZEV and near-ZEV vehicles). The resulting hydrogen based energy systems and devices, will be safe, practical and competitive. However, various economic and technical issues prevented the use of hydrogen in widespread energy applications.
The Matsunaga Hydrogen Research, Development, and Development Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-566) directed the DOE to establish a Hydrogen Technical Advisory Panel (HTAP). The HTAP panel’s mission was set forth to facilitate the development of hydrogen as an energy carrier and make recommendations on implementation and the associated economic, technological and environmental impact of hydrogen based energy systems. Complementing this Act, the DOE established short-, mid- and long-term national objectives of replacing from 0.1 to 0.5 quads of conventional energy per year by 2000, displacing 2 to 4 quads per year by 2010, and displacing 10 quads per year by 2030, respectively. In addition, the State of California has enacted legislation requiring that 2% of new cars offered for sale within the state be non-polluting by 1998 and 10% by 2003.
As a logical extension of these federal and state mandates, I cofounded the National Hydrogen Fund (NHF) Ltd in 1997. The Fund was created to provide a linkage between government and industry to facilitate rapid time-to-market hydrogen energy technologies in the transportation sector, the sector that is the primary consumer of foreign oil and therefore contributor to energy insecurity. Strategically, the Fund targeted the most promising technologies to help facilitate their commercialization. The Fund aimed to provide significant financial and managerial assistance to small emerging companies to enable their participation in a highly organized, industry-led, cost shared, research and development project which will accelerate the development of hydrogen energy technologies through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy.
For reasons better left to history, the U.S. Department of Energy abruptly deferred investments in hydrogen “fuel” programs. At the end of the day, there were no viable hydrogen technologies to commercialize and the NHF became another tragedy of U.S. myopic energy policy.
So, it was encouraging to hear in an NBC News report that Honda, the maker of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) prototype, is promising to put a final version of the zero-emissions vehicle into production in 2015. http://www.nbcnews.com/business/hit-or-hype-hydrogen-cars-back-spotlight-2D11644162
NBC goes on to state:
“….. Toyota simultaneously announced 2015 production plans for its own fuel-cell vehicle, or FCV, at the L.A. event and the Tokyo Motor Show.”
“….. Hyundai may have stolen their thunder, not only revealing plans to put a fuel-cell vehicle on the market by the spring of next year but to offer it at an unexpectedly low price that will include the cost of all fill-ups during the three-year lease.”
“….. other manufacturers hinted they’re also working up plans, including General Motors, which earlier this year signed into a fuel-cell development program with Honda.”
“Hydrogen “is what we believe could be the ultimate solution to low-carbon mobility …..”
“….. ease with which motorists can slip from a conventional, gas-powered vehicle into a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle could prove critical to winning over potential buyers, and could be the significant selling point when compared to battery-electric vehicles.”
“….. fuel-cell vehicles like the FCEV prototype can be refueled in as little as three minutes and deliver up to about 300 miles per tank – compared to the hours it takes to recharge a battery car which, in turn, typically yields less than 100 miles of range.”
“….. fuel-cell technology is not only becoming more efficient but much less expensive – Hyundai claims it cut production costs of its fuel-cell “stack” in half over the last two years.’
In closing, the lack of fueling infrastructure to generate, store, transport and pump hydrogen rises again as one of the major impediments to broad market acceptance of FCEVs. Yet, nothing in the energy landscape comes even close to hydrogen’s elegance as a source of energy. Solar and wind too give thanks to their creator, hydrogen, the stuff that our sun is made of.
PS. Honda’s Hydrogen Fuel Cell EV Concept Car is a futuristic vision of beauty that designers at Tesla would have liked to conceive. Forget other current pure EV manufacturers who produce vehicles in the style of a four wheeled egg.
Two score and twelve years ago President John Fitzgerald Kennedy took oath and swore before America and Almighty God we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. He asked Americans – what you can do for your country. He asked fellow citizens of the world – what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Now 50 years from his tragic death and 150 years from Lincoln’s address memorializing the dead on the battlefields of Gettysburg, we honor a man who fought that our nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated in liberty, can long endure. Today, on another National Cemetery, we dedicate the final resting place of that president and so many other Americans – men and women – who gave their life that this nation might live.
The world may little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what these brave Americans, living and dead, did. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Prologue: To the discredit of the author, this piece offers no solution to the waging of war on climate change. It is merely a reflection on the failure of all efforts to prevent what appears to be the inevitable. In a cowardly shirking of responsibility, the baton is passed to future generations for them to stem the tides of an Earth out of control. The remaining hope is that we raised our children to be smarter than us. I expect the ardent supporters of President Obama to meet my words with an ideological backlash, but don’t, give up on me just yet. Just wait until I’ve told the story.
Once upon a time, there was a wanderer named Goldilocks. She looked for a place to live. Pretty soon, she came upon our solar systems. Inside, there were three possible homes. She studied these planets carefully.
“This planet nearest the sun she named Venus is too hot!” she exclaimed.
So, she went to the furthest of the three from the sun.
“This planet she named Mars is too cold,” she said
So, she visited the middle planet.
“Ahhh, this planet she named Earth is just right,” she said happily and moved in.
Goldilocks raised a family. The family grew and prospered, until one day she looked upon her home.
“Someone’s been careless with Earth,” it’s starting to look like Venus she growled.
“Someone’s been eating Earth’s resources and they ate them all up!” she cried.
“Someone’s been playing with the air we breathe and they’ve broken it all to pieces,” she breathlessly grumbled.
“Someone’s been US and doing little about it!” exclaimed Goldilocks.
She screamed, “Help!” And she jumped in desperation for a fix. Goldilocks looked again to the planets, opened the sky, and raced to Mars. And she never returned to her home now left shamelessly in shambles.
A child’s story, perhaps! From world wars to weapons of mass destruction, the 20th and 21st centuries have events of major worldwide concern. Yet, the news this week about “Arctic Temperatures Reaching the Highest Levels in 44,000 Years” makes all other events pale in comparison.
Certainly, there are naysayers–so be it. The truth is all around us. It’s indisputable: atmospheric CO2 has reached levels never seen in recorded history, the earth is getting warmer and the global community is consuming more fossil fuels. The initial wounds are so deep it matters little that CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries. There is little one can add or detract. Vivid images tell it all – crying children left homeless from vicious tropical cyclones, massive icebergs breaking off every ice haven on earth, and drought-stricken areas competing for vanishing water supplies. No science required, no statistical proof is necessary, no debates are needed; only the ability to sense reality is required to see what no society has ever witnessed before.
The debate over the human influence on climate change is settled. There is universal agreement within the international community that humanity is the dominant cause of atmospheric and oceanic warming, diminishing amounts of snow and ice, rising global mean sea levels and skyrocketing concentrations of greenhouse gases. Adding to sobering conclusion, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated, “there is enough space in the atmosphere for about 309 billion metric tons of carbon, or about 22 years of emissions at current levels, for a chance to prevent runaway climate change.” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-02/un-estimating-available-carbon-emissions-was-wise-sandor-says.html
The concern is not what is or even what will be, but whether something can be done about it. Have we gone past the point of no return? Even if all of humankind would quantitatively stop using carbon-based fuels today, it is doubtful there would be any significant changes in the near future. Our ability to go completely off the carbon grid is without exception a virtual impossibility. We are on a runaway freight train with no practical way to bring it under control.
The rash of apocalyptic events is not recent news. In 634 BCE Romans feared the city (Rome) would come to an end on the 120th year of its founding. Even today, scientists such as Dr. James Kasting, a world renowned Harvard-educated geoscientist, predict the world will become uninhabitable in 500 million years when the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will “drop.” Drop – that a new twist! We do know of the Great Dying, which some 250 million years ago wiped out 90-95 percent of all life on earth. After that, it took 30 million years for life to recover. Then some 65 million years ago, a collision with a celestial object ended the age of the dinosaur. Interestingly, that cataclysm gave rise to mammals and of course, humanity.
Through eons of continuing destruction, the earth endures. Whether humanity survives is a more profound question. In what seems to be an esoteric waste of time, scientists are beginning to discuss ways to prevent yet another catastrophic impact with an asteroid, comet or meteoroid. In the short term, it seems more likely we will destroy ourselves by whatever means is at hand. Nevertheless, people the world over can rest assured in the knowledge that technology could come to our rescue when it comes to space rocks of mass destruction.
To our everlasting disgrace, the same technological prowess that is focusing on futuristic events of total destruction is helpless when it comes to more immediate needs like dealing with the damaging consequences of CO2 in the sky. In fairness, the technologists who giveth the tools that produce these gases are not solely responsible to taketh them away. Political, geopolitical, socioeconomic, industrial and consumer pressures far outrun scientists’ powers to affect the course of environmental degradation.
Globally, the U.S. has the world’s highest reported per capita CO2 emissions at 18 tonnes emitted per person. Meanwhile, China is reported to emit more CO2 than the US and Canada put together and India ranks as the world’s third biggest emitter of CO2. Adding to the growing problems in the developing world, some of the world’s smallest countries and islands emit the highest levels of CO2 per person with the worst offender being Gibraltar at 152 annual tonnes per person.
A 2013 report “Trends in Global CO2 Emissions” by Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency concluded: “Actual global emissions of CO2 reached a new record of 34.5 billion tonnes in 2012. Yet, the increase in global CO2 emissions in that year slowed down to 1.1% (or 1.4%, not accounting the extra day in the leap year), which was less than half the average annual increase of 2.9% over the last decade. This improvement signals a shift towards less fossil-fuel-intensive activities, more use of renewable energy and increased energy saving. We are still experiencing cumulative increases every year . Since CO2 lives for 100 years in the atmosphere, we will still be unable to meet a 2C (carbon used in metal production, primarily in blast furnaces) target for 2050.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24742770
In the wake of U.N. climate talks in Warsaw known as the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19), global attempts to control emissions have arrived stillborn. The European reported on November 7, 2013, “there is little global will for an overarching agreement akin to the failed Kyoto protocol; big CO2 emitters had no limits (China and India), or left (the US), or didn’t keep their promises (Canada); and full implementation of Kyoto would, by the end of the century, have reduced temperatures by an immeasurable 0.05°C, despite costing about $200bn annually.” http://www.theeuropean-magazine.com/bjorn-lomborg/7590-the-failure-of-climate-talks
The European further states, “Yet there is a very different option that is not even on the agenda: instead of pouring more money into still very inefficient renewables, we could make massive but much cheaper investments in research and development into new energy sources. The world is already spending about $1bn a day on renewables – $359bn in 2013. $100bn a year invested worldwide in research & development (R&D) would be hundreds of times more effective, a panel of economists, including three Nobel laureates, found in a Copenhagen Consensus on Climate study. This would increase global R&D tenfold and would cost much, much less – only 0.2 per cent of global GDP.” http://www.theeuropean-magazine.com/bjorn-lomborg/7590-the-failure-of-climate-talks
For new ideas to bring about change, the precepts behind the failure must be the point of focus. Investment in new energy sources is hardly the answer. The aftershock of yet another vision that is divorced from reality resonates with the futile sweat of a desperate world trying to hold back the hands of time. Each nation, each industry and each company has its own agenda, political accord and economic basis that for the most part is immiscible with the others. The collective notion is there, the practical sense is not. Giving up is certainly not the answer! That the world has given up is probably true. How best the global community can effectively, work together in unison to achieve the shared goal of combating climate change is the Holy Grail of the modern age.
A report in Renewable Energy World stated, “feed-in-tariff incentive programs used mostly in Europe and Central Asia to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, have become a primary concern for policy makers in many countries. Whether the rising costs are recovered from ratepayers or taxpayers, they can create both political and economic pressures. Households in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to rising tariffs, as spending on energy accounts for a larger share of their incomes than for households in developed countries.” http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/07/how-fit-are-feed-in-tariff-policies
A proposal by the BDI Industry Federation of Germany said, “Germans are now paying more for electricity than any other nation in the European Union except Cyprus and Denmark. BDI, which represents about 100,000 companies including Siemens AG (SIE) and Volkswagen AG (VOW) wants to get rid of feed-in tariffs that guarantee owners of new clean-energy plants above-market payments for 20 years under the EEG renewable law. Instead, it wants developers to sell their power on the market to encourage output that responds to demand rather than whether the wind is blowing or the sun shining. Pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel to change the subsidy system is growing. The VCI chemical lobby, Germany’s biggest utility industry groups VKU and BDEW as well as the Free Democratic Party, Merkel’s junior coalition partner, have previously called to phase out or halt feed-in tariffs.” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-19/german-industry-wants-end-of-feed-in-tariff-on-rising-power-cost.html
On November 15, Reuters stated, “The Japanese government decided to target a 3.8 percent emissions cut by 2020 versus 2005 levels. That amounts to a 3 percent rise from a U.N. benchmark year of 1990 and the reversal of the previous target of a 25 percent reduction.” The Inter Press Service News Agency went on to say, “Japan, the fifth largest emitter of CO2, is just the latest to abandon its international commitments. Japan’s renege on its carbon emissions pledge, likely ending any hope global warming can be kept to 2.0 degrees C.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/15/us-climate-japan-idUSBRE9AE00P20131115
The New York Times published on November 15, 2013, “the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed reducing the amount of ethanol that is required to be mixed with the gasoline supply, the first time it has taken steps to slow down the drive to replace fossil fuels with renewable forms of energy. The move was expected, but it drew bitter complaints from advocates of ethanol, including some environmentalists, who see the corn-based fuel blend as a weapon to fight climate change. It was also unwelcome news to farmers, who noted that the decision came at a time when a record corn crop is expected, and the price of a bushel has fallen almost to the cost of production. We’re all just sort of scratching our heads here today and wondering why this administration is telling us to burn less of a clean-burning American fuel,” said Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/us/for-first-time-epa-proposes-reducing-ethanol-requirement-for-gas-mix.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&ref=ethanol&adxnnlx=1384873324-sIQagT6t2vjYSqB9AFUAXg
In what has to be the irony of ironies, BBC News reported on November 17, 2013, that “environmental groups have sharply criticized the Polish government for hosting a coal industry meeting while UN climate talks are held in the country. The World Coal Association believes that coal is an important part of the energy mix right now and is growing in many parts of the world. They say that coal accounts for 41% of the world’s electricity and in 20 years’ time is still expected to be providing a quarter of the world’s primary energy, the same level it was at in 1980.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24981735?goback=%2Egde_35851_member_5808042658899185668#%21
On the bright side, the Cato Institute recently announced, “Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the United States from the production and consumption of energy have been on the decline since about 2005, after generally being on the rise ever since our country was first founded. The decline in emissions between 2012 and 2011 was 3.8 percent, which, according to the Energy Information Administration was the largest decline in a non-recession year since 1990 and the first time that CO2 emissions fell while the per capita economic output increased by more than 2 percent. In other words, we are producing more while emitting less carbon dioxide. The big player in 2012 was the continued switch from coal to natural gas for electrical generation.” http://www.cato.org/blog/thanks-natural-gas-climate-change-us-carbon-dioxide-emissions-continue-downward-trend
Bloomberg noted on October 17, 2013, “China, the top greenhouse-gas emitter, is seeking to cut emissions per unit of economic output by at least 40 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.” Huffington Post went on to say, China is closing heavily polluting factories, prohibiting new coal-fired power plants in major industrial regions, and investing more in renewable energy than any other country in the world. It is experimenting with CO2 cap and trade programs, debating a carbon tax and drafting a climate change law. NRDC (the National Development and Reform Commission People’s Republic of China) is also working with China’s top energy experts to develop a comprehensive, enforceable program that will put a nationwide cap on coal consumption, the leading contributor to climate change. However, China’s actions are driven not just by climate change, but by other reasons such as energy security and the need to address choking levels of air pollution. Moreover, enforcement of laws, policies and programs remains a major challenge in China, in large part because of strong resistance from vested interests including state-owned fossil fuel companies and local government leaders who profit from polluting industries.
In closing, world policy on climate change is in a state of universal decrepitude. Despite all the agreements and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent in green technologies, CO2 emissions climbed 57 percent since 1990. Could the issue be just too complex to do anything about it on the world stage? The interest in doing something is certainly there. Is humanity truly capable of banding together to do the right thing? That is the question.
The Worldwatch Institute today launched its groundbreaking Sustainable Energy Roadmap for Jamaica, a look at the measures that the Jamaican government can take to transition its electricity sector to one that is socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable. The report, Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap: Pathways to an Affordable, Reliable, Low-Emission Electricity System, is the culmination of years of intensive investigation. It analyzes the potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment in Jamaica and discusses the social and economic impacts of alternative energy pathways, concluding that a scenario of high renewable penetration can bring significant savings, greater energy security, gains in competitiveness, and many other important benefits to the country.
“Jamaica is paying a colossal price to import polluting and health-threatening fossil fuels, even when it has the best clean energy resources at its doorstep: wind, solar, hydro, and biomass,” says Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at Worldwatch and a co-author of the study. “The Jamaican government has set a nationwide goal of 20 percent renewable energy use by 2030; our Roadmap will help to realize this goal. What’s more, our analysis shows that the bar can and should be set much higher: Jamaica can become a zero-carbon island in a matter of decades, and its people would benefit enormously from such a transition.”
Worldwatch collaborated closely on this project with the Government of Jamaica. “I am very confident that the outcome of this project will enable Jamaica to map, in more precise ways, the additional electricity generation capacity that we seek,” says Jamaican Energy Minister Philip Paulwell. “We intend to use the Roadmap to determine the next phase of new generation capacity, and it will enable us to be far more efficient than we have in the past.”
Jose Maria Figueres, president of the Carbon War Room and former president of Costa Rica, points to the broader benefits of the study and Worldwatch’s Sustainable Energy Roadmap work: “This report provides the practical steps that enable us to fast-forward the deployment of renewable energy. With it, we can boost national economies and improve conditions of well-being. [Jamaica] can become a shining example of what the future is all about.”
Supported by the International Climate Initiative of the German Ministry of the Environment, the Roadmap compares the full societal costs of Jamaica’s current electricity sector to the costs of alternative pathways that are based on high shares of domestic renewable energy. The report concludes that Jamaica will benefit economically, socially, and environmentally if it relies more heavily on renewable energy sources and less on fossil fuels.
“This Roadmap can make a crucial contribution to addressing Jamaica’s single greatest obstacle to economic development: its extremely high cost of electricity,” says the German Ambassador to Jamaica, Josef Beck. “If used wisely, the Worldwatch Roadmap can help safeguard Jamaica’s economic future at a very critical juncture.”
Based on analysis of Jamaica’s investment environment, the Roadmap suggests regulatory and institutional changes that will be necessary to attract new investments in clean energy solutions. “There is considerable discord among the institutions that need to be sending clear and definitive signals to potential renewable energy investors,” says Mark Konold, Worldwatch’s Caribbean Program Manager and a co-author of the study. “Jamaica wants to act more ambitiously, and financial institutions are ready to jump in because they see the potential for strong renewable energy investment. But that investment sits on the sidelines waiting for government ministries and regulatory bodies to develop coherent and consistent policy.”
Worldwatch also collaborated closely on the project with the country’s academic, financial, and civil society sectors. Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, Associate Vice-President of Sustainable Energy at Jamaica’s University of Technology, says: “The Sustainable Energy Roadmap is a very important tool, providing the direction needed to achieve Jamaica’s own energy transformation. Data driven, the Roadmap is critical to energy sustainability-addressing policy, energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy systems, grid stability, and much more.”
Highlights from the report:
Jamaica is highly vulnerable to climate change. Energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies will help the country adapt to extreme weather events and reduce its carbon footprint. Jamaica has the potential to become a climate and energy leader and to set an example for the rest of the world.
All of Jamaica’s electricity needs could be met with renewable energy technologies alone. Just 10 medium-sized wind farms could provide over half of the country’s current power demand; nearly one-quarter could be met with one square kilometer of solar PV panels installed at each of the seven sites assessed in the report. If the efficiency of existing biomass generation facilities were improved, agricultural waste could supply about 10 percent of current consumption.
Jamaica’s petroleum power plants are highly inefficient. The average efficiency for oil-and diesel-fired steam generation is below 30 percent. Upgrades at existing plants are needed to reduce energy waste in the near to medium term. Still, rising national energy demand requires substantial new generating capacity. Careful consideration is needed to determine where investment in outdated fossil-based infrastructure is preferable to investments in new renewable energy technologies, which are cheaper in the long run.
Almost 10 percent of Jamaica’s electricity is lost during transmission. Jamaica’s public utility (JPS) plans to spend more than US$100 million for grid expansion and improvement of its current fossil-based power plant fleet. Rapidly scaling up rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems would result in more electricity consumption at the point of production, reducing strain on the inefficient grid and offsetting some of the cost of investment to address inefficiencies.
Challenges associated with the variability of renewable energy sources can be overcome. Jamaica has an advantage over many other countries in that its existing diesel and fuel-oil power plants can be fired up and down quickly in response to fluctuations in solar and wind generation. The challenge that “the wind does not always blow, the sun does not always shine” can be addressed effectively through: a) combining solar and wind capacity over a broad geographic area; b) improving weather forecasting and operational responses for renewable resources; c) integrating variable renewable resources with renewables used for baseload power, such as biomass and hydro; and d) upgrading the existing grid infrastructure with higher-voltage transmission lines and (eventually) storage options.
Renewable energy generation in Jamaica is currently 42 percent cheaper than the least-expensive operating fossil fuel power plant. Wind and solar can generate power at an average of 9.6 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), compared to the country’s Bogue combined-cycle natural gas power plant at 16.4 cents per kWh. This is true even when not accounting for the enormous direct and indirect subsidies that support fossil fuels, and the fuels’ effects on human health and the environment.
Adding health and pollution costs into the production price further strengthens the argument to move away from fossil fuel-based electricity. When the “real costs” of energy to Jamaican society are assessed, a kWh generated by wind power is one-fifth the cost of one generated from oil combustion turbines and less than one-third that from diesel generators. Coal power is about 2.5 times the cost of wind power and five times that of hydropower. Small-scale solar PV is about 25 U.S. cents per kWh cheaper than oil combustion and 5 U.S. cents per kWh cheaper than oil combined-cycle generation. Large-scale solar PV is about half the price of electricity generated by coal.
Transitioning to an almost entirely renewable electricity system can decrease the average cost of electricity in Jamaica by 67 percent, from 22 U.S. cents per kWh to 7 U.S. cents per kWh in 2030. Higher shares of renewables require higher investments but reduce the total cost of generation. Our analysis shows that continuing the status quo will have cost Jamaica US$29 billion by 2030, US$23 billion of which is fuel costs alone. Jamaica can save up to US$12.5 billion by investing in renewables instead.
High interest rates and the lack of long-term loans pose a major barrier for financing sustainable energy projects in Jamaica. Private international finance institutions continue to view Jamaica’s sustainable energy market as risky; however, the ability of domestic financial institutions to provide loans for energy efficiency and renewable energy is strengthening as banks build more trust in Jamaica’s growing renewable energy market. Several energy credit lines disbursed through the Development Bank of Jamaica now provide low-interest loans for sustainable energy projects, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Traditional development assistance from bilateral and multilateral agencies is targeted increasingly toward sustainable energy. Climate financing, including through Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), has the potential to provide major support for Jamaica’s sustainable energy transition. Jamaica should harness these resources more vigorously to establish ambitious energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. One important step that should be ramped up is the government’s effort to track its carbon footprint by monitoring its energy use and related greenhouse gas emissions.
The Jamaican government has ambitious goals for sustainable energy, but the current institutional environment needs improvement. Transferring electricity planning and procurement processes from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy & Mining (MSTEM) would be a key first step. OUR’s mandate to ensure affordable reliable energy supply from diverse energy sources must be enforced more strongly.
Jamaica needs to fully implement several new policies to promote sustainable energy production and consumption, and to measure, report, and verify their effectiveness in achieving established energy and development goals. Recently introduced measures such as net billing, electricity wheeling, and a request for proposals (i.e., tender) for renewable capacity generation still need to demonstrate their impact.
The government needs to support and expand existing programs focused on energy efficiency. MSTEM’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programme, slated to continue through 2020, should be supported as vigorously as possible to increase measures of demand-side management that equip consumers with more modern and energy-saving equipment. The Public Sector Energy Conservation program should also receive maximum support to achieve the 30 percent cost-saving goal set for the public sector.
The government needs to streamline administrative processes for renewable energy development. Although permitting processes are essential to limit the negative environmental and social impacts of energy projects, long and bureaucratic permitting processes can result in significant risk and expense to investors and developers. In the past, government requirements for certification of grid-connected renewable energy systems, especially solar PV, have resulted in a long and uncertain process that disincentivized investments. MSTEM and OUR should guarantee grid access for renewable energy installations and take measures to speed the permitting process; a one-stop window should be created to guide renewable energy installers through the administrative process.
Article appears compliments of the New Worldwatch Institute. Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program aims to accelerate the transition to a low-emission economy based on the sustainable use of renewable energy sources, major efficiency gains, green agricultural practices, and low-carbon transportation. Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy team reports regularly on its projects via its blog, Re|Volt, at http://blogs.worldwatch.org/revolt/.
From world wars to weapons of mass destruction, the 20th and 21st century had events of major worldwide concern. Yet, the news this week about “Arctic Temperatures Reaching the Highest Levels In 44,000 Years” makes all other events pale in comparison. Yes there will be naysayers, so be it. The truth is all around us today. The fact of the matter is these major climatic changes will impact on everyone on the planet in a not so favorable way. It may be almost impossible to stop. I doubt even if the entire world would quantitatively stop using carbon based fuels today, would the positive effects be seen in a few decades. We are on a freight train out of control with no one taking substantive action to bring it under control.
The Arlington Award Program has chosen TBD America, Inc. for the 2013 Arlington Awards in the Business Development Service classification. This recognition is a result of your dedication and efforts as well as the work of others in your organization that have helped build your business. Your team is now a part of an exclusive group of small businesses that have achieved this selection.