Energy Efficiency and Renewables Conference
10th June 2019

Opening Remarks
Dr Thackwray Driver, President and CEO, Energy Chamber of Trinidad & Tobago

Its gives me great pleasure to welcome you to our annual conference dealing with Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.   This is the third time we are holding this event as a stand-alone conference, though we did previously have an event on the final day at our annual Trinidad & Tobago Energy Conference when we looked at renewable energy and related issues.  It is the first time that we are holding the conference here at the Hilton Hotel; last year we sold out the Yara Auditorium at the Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, hence the change in venue. 

There is clearly growing interest in energy efficiency and renewables in Trinidad & Tobago.  This is an area in which we lag behind much of the rest of the Caribbean region, though I think we have the potential to advance quickly if we make the right policy choices.    Interest is coming from both the public and private sectors in Trinidad & Tobago and perhaps most importantly from many ordinary citizens, especially our younger citizens. 

Concerns about the impact of human induced climate change are a strong driving force behind this new interest. The devasting hurricanes that we have seen in the Caribbean region, and last year’s flooding in Trinidad, have heightened these concerns about climate change.  Globally there has been a renewed focus on human induced climate change, with a new generation of activists coming to the fore and activist shareholders demanding clear actions to reduced carbon footprints at the AGMs of major listed companies, especially in Europe.

It is for that reason we have themed this conference “Industry Collaboration for a Low Carbon Future”.

 However, it is not just concern about global environment change that has led to increased interest in energy efficiency and renewables in Trinidad & Tobago.   It is also economics.   The shortfalls in gas production that have characterised Trinidad over recent years have focused both policymakers and the industry on making the best use of our natural gas.  In the period from the early 1970s through to about 2010, the story of the Trinidad & Tobago gas industry was essentially about creating more and more demand to allow the country to monetise its natural gas.  We have been very successful in that regard and we created a model that many countries have tried to emulate. 

With a highly successful emphasis on pumping up the volumes, the country perhaps missed the importance of using those natural gas resources efficiently.   In a gas constrained setting we have to place the emphasis on the wise use of every molecule of natural gas and focus on maximising value, rather than maximising volume.  That also means finding alternative ways to generate the energy that we need to run our economy, in addition to burning natural gas, hence the drive for both greater efficiency and renewable power.

I am pleased to say that the private sector has been at the forefront of this shift in focus.  For example, some of our members have been working assiduously on putting together proposals for grid-scale renewable energy projects – aiming for 10% of national electricity production – which are due to be submitted at the end of June to the Ministry of Energy.  The private sector is very ready to invest capital in renewable energy in Trinidad & Tobago. 

Members have also committed to improving energy efficiency within their operations.  Earlier this year we launched an Energy Efficiency Declaration where members committed to improving the efficiency of energy use in their operations and to report on the improvements that they have made.  Details of the Energy Efficiency Declaration can be seen on the website (click here)

More than fifty companies have already signed up to this declaration – including many of the major industrial users of energy.  You can see the names of the companies who have signed-up already on the website (click here).  Over the course of today you will hear a number of those companies reporting on the actions that they have taken.  I hope that those members amongst you this morning who have not yet signed-up to this declaration will consider joining this eminent group.

The interest of our members in energy efficiency and renewables is also shown by the very generous sponsorship of this conference.  Thank-you to bpTT, Shell and NGC for once again stepping up as major sponsors of this conference.  Also, many thanks to Massy Wood, TGU and Efficiency One for their very kind sponsorship.

The Minister of Public Utilities has been very vocal about calling for greater energy efficiency in Trinidad & Tobago and it is heartening that some of his Cabinet colleagues also now seem to be taking up the cause. I am very pleased that he has agreed to join us this morning and deliver our feature address on this first day, when our focus is on energy efficiency.  The Minister of Energy will join us tomorrow for his keynote address: the second day of the conference will focus on renewable energy.

With those opening words, I am very pleased to open this conference and invite Claire Fitzpatrick, Regional President of bpTT to the podium for her sponsors remarks.