The State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources held a webinar on September 9, 2020 on barriers and opportunities for private investment in Caribbean energy sectors, energy resource diversification, the impacts of Covid-19 on Caribbean energy markets, and US cooperation. Lisa Viscidi, director of the Energy, Climate Change & Extractive Industries Program at the Dialogue, moderated the event.
Comments by Lisa Viscidi:
Lisa Viscidi: “I think Caribbean islands face unique challenges in providing affordable, reliable, clean energy to homes, to businesses, and to industries. In a lot of islands, the small markets make it more difficult to attract investment and achieve economies of scale in order to build out the needed infrastructure. Most Caribbean countries don’t have their own domestic oil and gas resources, and they tend to depend on expensive and polluting imported diesel or fuel oil for power generation. For instance, CARICOM countries spend an average of 5 percent of their GDP on oil product imports, compared to a global average of just 0.7 percent. Many islands face frequent blackouts due to inadequate transmission and distribution systems, and they’re particularly vulnerable because of increasingly severe natural disasters and climate change. Private sector investment can alleviate many of these problems. Despite the challenges, many Caribbean islands have already achieved a lot. They’ve started to diversify their energy matrices. They’re building out new renewable energy capacity. They’re building out infrastructure to import and consume natural gas, particularly from the United States.”