Earlier this year, it was announced that Trinidad and Tobago ratified the Paris Agreement. This is a commitment by the government to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 15 per cent in three main sectors of the economy, namely industry, power generation and transport, by 2030. The government therefore has a significant role in driving the changes needed to achieve these targets.
Over the past few years, the rise of renewables and the need for efficiency has been evident. In 2018, the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference (Energy Conference) featured a session on ‘Electricity Generation and Energy Efficiency’. As part of this session, there were presentations from Dr. Cletus Bertin, Executive Director, Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) and Senator the Honourable Robert Le Hunte, Minister of Public Utilities.
According to Minister Le Hunte, the estimated cost of meeting our stated goal in greenhouse gas reductions amounts to US$2 billion, which is expected to be met partly through domestic funding and is conditional on international climate financing through the Green Climate Fund.
The Ministry of Public Utilities has as its mission ‘to facilitate delivery of efficient, affordable and quality public utilities services’. The Minister indicated that the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) is poised to deepen its footprint in renewable energy so that the gas currently used for electricity generation could be sold, thus generating revenue for the country.
He added that Trinidad and Tobago at this time possesses more generation capacity than the nation requires. Additionally, we will not approach the optimal generation reserve margin of 20 per cent until around 2025. Based on this reality alone he said, new sources of energy, whether renewable or otherwise, would not be needed until that time. He went on to add that despite our oversupply of power, the Trinidad and Tobago government stands by the commitment that it would have made as a signatory to the Paris Accord.
He stated further that, ‘we are working assiduously to keep our promise to the population that we would source 10 per cent of our energy needs from renewable energy sources by the year 2021’. Ten percent amounts to 283 megawatts of renewable energy and energy generation. While the Minister acknowledged that this was an ambitious figure, he reiterated that it is one that the government would continue to work towards over the next three years.
According to Minister Le Hunte, Trinidad and Tobago should be developing the infrastructural framework that will facilitate renewable energy sources coming online, while at the same time maximising our efforts at efficiency and conservation. He lauded T&TEC for consistently monitoring and seeking to achieve optimal efficiency in its operations, noting that currently the two most efficient plants are Trinidad Generation Unlimited (TGU) and PowerGen’s Plant in Penal, both of which utilise the relatively new, highefficiency combined cycle. ‘Over the past two years, we have been actively working at increasing TGU’s dispatch and we have been able to increase that dispatch from just over 40 per cent to 80 per cent. TGU will become fully online when acquisition of lands to construct power lines from TGU to Union Estate is complete’, he added.
Efficiency plays a pivotal role in achieving emissions reduction, as 100 per cent of fuel used for power generation in Trinidad and Tobago is natural gas. This has implications for the downstream petrochemical sector, which is already strapped for such gas, and which would fetch a higher monetary return for the country when used in the sector than when utilised for power generation.