On behalf of the Government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica and on my own behalf, I wish to welcome all of you to the Nature Island of the Caribbean. We are truly delighted that you have chosen the most naturally beautiful island in the Caribbean chain as the location for such an important workshop. I have ensured that you will receive the best of our Dominican hospitality thus guaranteeing that you have a productive and enjoyable stay.
It is no secret that our Caribbean islands, like other Small Island Developing States throughout the world, are burdened with the high cost of energy generally and electricity in particular. In 2012, the Caribbean SIDS paid an average of US$0.40 per kWh of electricity. This makes the Caribbean, with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago, uncompetitive for doing business, in an increasingly hostile and competitive global environment. Exorbitant electricity costs results in the high cost of basic goods and services thus placing tremendous financial strain on families, especially the less fortunate. The impact is also felt by our private sector.
Fortunately, the good Lord has blessed us with an abundance of renewable sources of energy. Our responsibility as regional governments therefore, is to ensure that we can harness these sources of energy for the benefit of our people. The transformation of our energy sector from the dependence on expensive imported fossil fuels to one that is powered by clean sources of renewable energy should be our priority, individually and collectively.
Ladies and Gentlemen, building capacity, resource assessment and research and development in renewable energy must be at the top of our agenda. The consolidation of regional institutions to better service the needs of our member states is a critical component to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and to enhance energy efficiency in our region. An institution that is focused on providing training, policy advice, the mobilization of resources, and research and development would provide critical support to our countries. It is in this context that I endorse the establishment of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE). The Government of Dominica is convinced that CCREEE has the potential to play an important role in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Caribbean like ECREEE has done for East Africa (ECOWAS).
On behalf of The Government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Caribbean and on my own behalf, I wish to thank the Government and people of Austria for their contribution to our development efforts. The Government of Austria as a Member of the European Union is a traditional development partner of the Government and People of Dominica. The contribution of Austria through its development agency, ADA, to the establishment of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency is a demonstration of Austria’s commitment to the advancement of the lives of our Caribbean people. I here and now pledge Dominica’s commitment to assist with the successful implementation of this very important initiative.
The leadership of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) towards the establishment of the CCREEE has been commendable. UNIDO has demonstrated that it is a genuine partner in development by working with member states to meet their goals in a manner that is not very common with international agencies and organizations. We look forward to a long and productive relationship with UNIDO as we work with mutual respect and with a common goal to improve the lives of our people.
SIDS DOCK, an initiative by SIDS, for SIDS, continues to assist SIDS to meet their Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency goals. The request from SIDS DOCK to create centres for RE and EE throughout the SIDS is a further effort to advance the RE and EE agendas of its members. I wish to commend the hard work and dedication of Ambassador Henderson, the Chair of SIDS DOCK Steering Committee, Dr. Albert Binger, the Coordinator, Ms. Christine Duncan and the other members of the Secretariat.
My Government’s support for SIDS DOCK emanates from our firm belief that RE and EE have the potential to transform the lives of our people and economy and that SIDS DOCK has the potential to assist in that process. Development is not about debating, it’s about doing. SIDS DOCK is doing and we are proud to be associated with it. We must therefore move quickly to do, and to establish the CCREEE.
One of the weaknesses with EE and RE initiatives in the Caribbean is the abundance of talk, studies, policies, and recommendations but very little projects to demonstrate the benefits of RE and EE. Several studies that have been conducted in the Caribbean identify the lack of political will as the major barrier to the deployment of RE and EE. The lack of adequate investments in these areas has also been identified as one of the failures of regional governments. Dominica has displayed the political will and leadership to move RE and EE by its significant investments in them over the years.
Since the 1980s Dominica has been generating about 25% of its electricity from hydropower. From 2000, the Government of Dominica in collaboration with its partners, invested over US$25 million in the development of geothermal energy. Negotiations are currently on the way to construct the first geothermal power plant for domestic supply. Our consultants have advised us that the first plant will be commissioned by 2016. This will allow us to transition from the dependence on the importation of expensive fossil fuels. Clearly, the Government and people of Dominica have demonstrated political will and strong leadership in pursuing the deployment of RE. Dominica’s geothermal energy development to date is a best practice for island states across the world pursing the development of their geothermal resource. We are prepared to share with the Caribbean and other SIDS.
By 2019, Dominica will become the only Small Island Developing State to export electricity. The partnership between the Government of Dominica and a French Consortium will develop a geothermal power plant for export and subsea transmission lines to our French neighbours – Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south. The royalties earned from the partnership will become a main source of revenue for Dominica. The cost of electricity in Dominica will rival countries with more advanced economies and producers of oil and gas.
I understand and respect the process that will go into the selection of the host country for the CCREEE. However, having highlighted Dominica’s RE efforts and taking into consideration that Dominica has the highest percentage of RE in its energy mix among the Caribbean countries, I want to take this opportunity to suggest to you that Dominica would be the ideal location for the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.
I wish you a productive workshop and a most pleasant and enjoyable stay in the Nature Isle
May God bless our efforts at achieving our goals for renewable energy and energy efficiency in our region. .