Government to consider natural gas to boost power gen. sector

Government to consider natural gas to boost power gen. sector

Three of the main drivers that prompted the start of the transition to renewable energy were the increase of global fuel prices, the increase of energy demand and climate change, according to Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley.

Dr. Rowley was delivering the feature address to the Energy Chamber at their ‘Energy Efficiency and Renewables’ Conference held virtually on Wednesday.

He said significant improvements in renewable energy and energy storage technologies over the years meant that the country could now begin to consider gradual diversification of the local energy mix, whilst also reducing our carbon footprint as a country.

In its Renewable Energy Market Update for May 2020, the International Energy Agency noted that the Covid-19 crisis is negatively impacting the global growth in renewable power capacity.

However, it is expected that renewable energy technologies would show resilience, with the majority of delayed projects still expected to come online.

Dr. Rowley said, “Our very own Roadmap to Recovery recommends stimulating activity in the area of energy efficiency and setting ambitious targets for increased power generation from renewables.”

He said while ongoing threats of climate change persist, “we in Trinidad and Tobago have been sitting in a privileged position for many years, since becoming one of the earliest global adopters of power generation from natural gas, almost seventy years ago.”

He said renewable energy technologies are expected to bring electricity prices on par with the current average subsidized cost of electricity generated from natural gas in
Trinidad and Tobago.

“Perhaps we can begin to look at our relationship with natural gas in the power generation sector to see how this usage can be supplemented by alternative forms of energy.”

The aim is to achieve a reduction in overall emissions by 15% by 2030 from Business as Usual (BAU), which in absolute terms is an equivalent of one hundred and three million tonnes (103,000,000) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO 2 e).

He added the Government is committed to reducing this country’s Greenhouse Gas emissions through the use of cleaner forms of energy, and the promotion of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

“Further to the National Development Strategy, the Government has also committed to the 10% RE power generation by 2021, which was outlined in the 2015/2016 National Budget.”

He said the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (MEEI) recently announced the
winning bid in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Utility Scale Renewable Energy Projects.

A consortium formed by Lightsource Renewable Global Development Limited (Lightsource BP), Shell Trinidad and Tobago Limited and BP Alternative Energy Trinidad and Tobago Limited submitted successful proposals for two projects.

“These projects will generate 92.2 MW of electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) sources at Couva, and 20 MW of electricity from solar PV sources at Trincity, at a cost that is on par with the current electricity prices in T&T.”

Another area that has shown great potential for Trinidad and Tobago is the hydrogen economy.

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen unprecedented support being given to the hydrogen economy, from long- time supporters like Japan, to newcomers like Australia.”

Trinidad and Tobago stands to benefit from the rapid development in hydrogen technology and policies.

“Our ammonia and methanol plants utilize a significant amount of natural gas, as a source of both hydrogen and carbon.”

Another utility-scale RE project in the works is a Waste to Energy Facility, to produce up to 10MW of electricity at the Beetham Landfill.

In terms of distributed and smaller scale RE projects, the MEEI is engaging with stakeholders to review the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Policy, which would allow for grid-interconnection for renewable electricity generators in T&T.

Other initiatives being taken include the installation of Solar Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting in the nation’s play parks and basketball courts, the proposed installation of two (2) electric vehicle charging stations at UDeCOTT’s Hyatt carpark, and planning and hosting events for CARICOM Energy Month.

However, Dr. Rowley noted that a key element that is necessary for the adoption of renewable energy and efficient energy practices is a change in consumer behaviour.