an interesting game raising awareness about global finance and trade
an interesting game raising awareness about global finance and trade
Washington, D.C.—-The Worldwatch Institute today launched its groundbreaking Sustainable Energy Roadmap for Jamaica, a look at the measures that the Jamaican government can take to transition its electricity sector to one that is socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable. The report, Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap: Pathways to an Affordable, Reliable, Low-Emission Electricity System, is the culmination of years of intensive investigation. It analyzes the potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment in Jamaica and discusses the social and economic impacts of alternative energy pathways, concluding that a scenario of high renewable penetration can bring significant savings, greater energy security, gains in competitiveness, and many other important benefits to the country.
“Jamaica is paying a colossal price to import polluting and health-threatening fossil fuels, even when it has the best clean energy resources at its doorstep: wind, solar, hydro, and biomass,” says Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at Worldwatch and a co-author of the study. “The Jamaican government has set a nationwide goal of 20 percent renewable energy use by 2030; our Roadmap will help to realize this goal. What’s more, our analysis shows that the bar can and should be set much higher: Jamaica can become a zero-carbon island in a matter of decades, and its people would benefit enormously from such a transition.”
Worldwatch collaborated closely on this project with the Government of Jamaica. “I am very confident that the outcome of this project will enable Jamaica to map, in more precise ways, the additional electricity generation capacity that we seek,” says Jamaican Energy Minister Philip Paulwell. “We intend to use the Roadmap to determine the next phase of new generation capacity, and it will enable us to be far more efficient than we have in the past.”
Jose Maria Figueres, president of the Carbon War Room and former president of Costa Rica, points to the broader benefits of the study and Worldwatch’s Sustainable Energy Roadmap work: “This report provides the practical steps that enable us to fast-forward the deployment of renewable energy. With it, we can boost national economies and improve conditions of well-being. [Jamaica] can become a shining example of what the future is all about.”
Supported by the International Climate Initiative of the German Ministry of the Environment, the Roadmap compares the full societal costs of Jamaica’s current electricity sector to the costs of alternative pathways that are based on high shares of domestic renewable energy. The report concludes that Jamaica will benefit economically, socially, and environmentally if it relies more heavily on renewable energy sources and less on fossil fuels.
“This Roadmap can make a crucial contribution to addressing Jamaica’s single greatest obstacle to economic development: its extremely high cost of electricity,” says the German Ambassador to Jamaica, Josef Beck. “If used wisely, the Worldwatch Roadmap can help safeguard Jamaica’s economic future at a very critical juncture.”
Based on analysis of Jamaica’s investment environment, the Roadmap suggests regulatory and institutional changes that will be necessary to attract new investments in clean energy solutions. “There is considerable discord among the institutions that need to be sending clear and definitive signals to potential renewable energy investors,” says Mark Konold, Worldwatch’s Caribbean Program Manager and a co-author of the study. “Jamaica wants to act more ambitiously, and financial institutions are ready to jump in because they see the potential for strong renewable energy investment. But that investment sits on the sidelines waiting for government ministries and regulatory bodies to develop coherent and consistent policy.”
Worldwatch also collaborated closely on the project with the country’s academic, financial, and civil society sectors. Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, Associate Vice-President of Sustainable Energy at Jamaica’s University of Technology, says: “The Sustainable Energy Roadmap is a very important tool, providing the direction needed to achieve Jamaica’s own energy transformation. Data driven, the Roadmap is critical to energy sustainability-addressing policy, energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy systems, grid stability, and much more.”
Highlights from the report:
Jamaica is highly vulnerable to climate change. Energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies will help the country adapt to extreme weather events and reduce its carbon footprint. Jamaica has the potential to become a climate and energy leader and to set an example for the rest of the world.
All of Jamaica’s electricity needs could be met with renewable energy technologies alone. Just 10 medium-sized wind farms could provide over half of the country’s current power demand; nearly one-quarter could be met with one square kilometer of solar PV panels installed at each of the seven sites assessed in the report. If the efficiency of existing biomass generation facilities were improved, agricultural waste could supply about 10 percent of current consumption.
Jamaica’s petroleum power plants are highly inefficient. The average efficiency for oil-and diesel-fired steam generation is below 30 percent. Upgrades at existing plants are needed to reduce energy waste in the near to medium term. Still, rising national energy demand requires substantial new generating capacity. Careful consideration is needed to determine where investment in outdated fossil-based infrastructure is preferable to investments in new renewable energy technologies, which are cheaper in the long run.
Almost 10 percent of Jamaica’s electricity is lost during transmission. Jamaica’s public utility (JPS) plans to spend more than US$100 million for grid expansion and improvement of its current fossil-based power plant fleet. Rapidly scaling up rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems would result in more electricity consumption at the point of production, reducing strain on the inefficient grid and offsetting some of the cost of investment to address inefficiencies.
Challenges associated with the variability of renewable energy sources can be overcome. Jamaica has an advantage over many other countries in that its existing diesel and fuel-oil power plants can be fired up and down quickly in response to fluctuations in solar and wind generation. The challenge that “the wind does not always blow, the sun does not always shine” can be addressed effectively through: a) combining solar and wind capacity over a broad geographic area; b) improving weather forecasting and operational responses for renewable resources; c) integrating variable renewable resources with renewables used for baseload power, such as biomass and hydro; and d) upgrading the existing grid infrastructure with higher-voltage transmission lines and (eventually) storage options.
Renewable energy generation in Jamaica is currently 42 percent cheaper than the least-expensive operating fossil fuel power plant. Wind and solar can generate power at an average of 9.6 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), compared to the country’s Bogue combined-cycle natural gas power plant at 16.4 cents per kWh. This is true even when not accounting for the enormous direct and indirect subsidies that support fossil fuels, and the fuels’ effects on human health and the environment.
Adding health and pollution costs into the production price further strengthens the argument to move away from fossil fuel-based electricity. When the “real costs” of energy to Jamaican society are assessed, a kWh generated by wind power is one-fifth the cost of one generated from oil combustion turbines and less than one-third that from diesel generators. Coal power is about 2.5 times the cost of wind power and five times that of hydropower. Small-scale solar PV is about 25 U.S. cents per kWh cheaper than oil combustion and 5 U.S. cents per kWh cheaper than oil combined-cycle generation. Large-scale solar PV is about half the price of electricity generated by coal.
Transitioning to an almost entirely renewable electricity system can decrease the average cost of electricity in Jamaica by 67 percent, from 22 U.S. cents per kWh to 7 U.S. cents per kWh in 2030. Higher shares of renewables require higher investments but reduce the total cost of generation. Our analysis shows that continuing the status quo will have cost Jamaica US$29 billion by 2030, US$23 billion of which is fuel costs alone. Jamaica can save up to US$12.5 billion by investing in renewables instead.
High interest rates and the lack of long-term loans pose a major barrier for financing sustainable energy projects in Jamaica. Private international finance institutions continue to view Jamaica’s sustainable energy market as risky; however, the ability of domestic financial institutions to provide loans for energy efficiency and renewable energy is strengthening as banks build more trust in Jamaica’s growing renewable energy market. Several energy credit lines disbursed through the Development Bank of Jamaica now provide low-interest loans for sustainable energy projects, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Traditional development assistance from bilateral and multilateral agencies is targeted increasingly toward sustainable energy. Climate financing, including through Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), has the potential to provide major support for Jamaica’s sustainable energy transition. Jamaica should harness these resources more vigorously to establish ambitious energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. One important step that should be ramped up is the government’s effort to track its carbon footprint by monitoring its energy use and related greenhouse gas emissions.
The Jamaican government has ambitious goals for sustainable energy, but the current institutional environment needs improvement. Transferring electricity planning and procurement processes from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy & Mining (MSTEM) would be a key first step. OUR’s mandate to ensure affordable reliable energy supply from diverse energy sources must be enforced more strongly.
Jamaica needs to fully implement several new policies to promote sustainable energy production and consumption, and to measure, report, and verify their effectiveness in achieving established energy and development goals. Recently introduced measures such as net billing, electricity wheeling, and a request for proposals (i.e., tender) for renewable capacity generation still need to demonstrate their impact.
The government needs to support and expand existing programs focused on energy efficiency. MSTEM’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programme, slated to continue through 2020, should be supported as vigorously as possible to increase measures of demand-side management that equip consumers with more modern and energy-saving equipment. The Public Sector Energy Conservation program should also receive maximum support to achieve the 30 percent cost-saving goal set for the public sector.
The government needs to streamline administrative processes for renewable energy development. Although permitting processes are essential to limit the negative environmental and social impacts of energy projects, long and bureaucratic permitting processes can result in significant risk and expense to investors and developers. In the past, government requirements for certification of grid-connected renewable energy systems, especially solar PV, have resulted in a long and uncertain process that disincentivized investments. MSTEM and OUR should guarantee grid access for renewable energy installations and take measures to speed the permitting process; a one-stop window should be created to guide renewable energy installers through the administrative process.
As you might remember, I helped launch a postcard writing campaign last summer and although we did manage to collect almost 3000 postcards and hand-deliver them to the government, I still hope to expand our efforts in saving the pink dolphins of Hong Kong. Your support and responses has been amazing however, still no action has been taken by the Government and tragically there are now eight reported dolphin deaths this year so far in Hong Kong.
Our goals remain the same and we need to take the next steps to achieve them, we are asking the government:
1. To immediately designate the surrounding waters of western Lantau and Soko Islands as Marine Parks.
2. An urgent best practice management plan for the Chinese White dolphins to restore the dolphin population.
3. An Immediate moratorium on all new reclamations/projects in dolphin habitat and current development projects that are suspected of causing harm to the dolphin population.
To kick off our new campaign I would like to urge everybody to focus on goal no 1. We have combined efforts with the WWF organization to achieve our unanimous wish to save the dolphins.
You can help us by signing the WWF petition:
urging for the immediate designation of marine parks so that the dolphins can have an immediate place to go to, to get away from the construction of the bridge and the cross border facility.
Please can you send this petition to everyone you know and ask them to sign as well! WWF needs 100,000 signatures by the end of November but let’s get 100,000 signatures by Friday November 8thwhich is Kids Ocean Day!
So please join us! Every signature will make a difference and will take us one step further to achieving our ultimate goal. Not only are you rsupporting the dolphins but you willl also play a vital role in protecting the future of Hong Kong’s marine life. Thank you!
Contributed by Mark Hillsdon on 25.09.2013 in Economy, Green and blue spaces and Nature
Manchester today staged an event looking at the future of natural capital, with an emphasis on the measures being taken to protect biodiversity within the Greater Manchester conurbation.
From the peat bogs of Salford in the west, to the moors of the Pennine fringe in the east, Greater Manchester has a diverse range of natural assets and the meeting, which was held at the Town Hall, considered some of the best ways to conserve them, and support local biodiversity.
A key body in this campaign is the new Natural Capital Group, which has been established to deliver the GM Local Nature Partnership and importantly is embedded within the city’s Low Carbon Hub.
Chaired by Anne Selby, chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts of Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, explained that it was ‘time to make nature matter,’ arguing ‘that it had been invisible for too long.’
However, it was no longer simply a case of doing the right thing, she said, with issues such as the plight of the honey bee, and it’s crucial role in pollinating crops, and the role of the landscape in preventing flooding, showing the loss of biodiversity also impacted on human lives.
The important economic aspect of protecting biodiversity was also becoming more apparent, explained Professor David Hill, deputy chair of Natural England.
He explained that as much as 40% of global GDP relied on natural capital – “but we don’t measure the importance of the environment to business success,” he said. “We need to understand how nature impacts on the economy.”
“We don’t measure the importance of the environment to business success.”
Big corporations, he added, were already looking at the importance of ecosystems and possible scenarios for their businesses should they ultimately collapse. “The ones who don’t get the message will disappear,” he warned.
More controversially Hill also spoke about bio-diversity offsetting, a new Government strategy which supporters claim will help both businesses, developers and nature.
Hill is also chairman of the Environment Bank, the private body charged with bringing the plans forward, and a key apart of his argument was that it was an important step in putting a true financial value on nature.
Opponents, however, argue that the plan doesn’t take into account the delicate balance of nature, and that while it may be possible to replace a pond or young copse of trees, how could developers cut down an ancient woodland or build over a flower meadow and then replace them to the same high level of biodiversity?
Finally, confirmation of what Grrenpeace has long suspected: AGRA, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, has been created to facilitate the corporate takeover of African agriculture, not support African smallholder farmers with real solutions.
AGRA’s African Agriculture Status Report 2013 released two days ago confirms the organisation’s Green Revolution agenda, despite the legacy of soil degradation and water depletion left by the Green Revolution in Asia.
AGRA, founded by the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations in 2006, claims that it is spurring a “uniquely African Green Revolution”, but there’s little original thinking here. Instead, it seems to be more of the same agenda that locks farmers into a spiral of corporate control, making them dependent on seeds and fertilisers from transnational corporations which dictate price and product delivery times.
In a meeting with AGRA officials in Nairobi in January 2013, we asked for greater transparency about the projects that AGRA is funding. This request was met with accusations that Greenpeace was making assumptions about AGRA’s work and a vehement denial from AGRA that it was funding genetically engineered (GE) crops and pesticides.
Although AGRA may not yet be funding GE directly, it’s certainly laying the groundwork by providing the “enabling environment” and facilitating the “public private partnerships” that will see the privatisation of profits. The end result is that the social and environmental costs will be borne by society, particularly the smallholder female farmers that AGRA claims to be helping.
In setting up agro-dealerships and facilitating credit lines to smallholder farmers to enable them to buy fertilisers and hybrid seeds, AGRA is rolling out the model of debt-driven agriculture that has seen farmers in India incur huge debts when harvests fail. Debt is a likely reason behind the suicides of thousands of farmers in India.
The introduction of AGRA’s report recognises the vagaries of the global commodity market, but stops short of showing the devastating effects that “price fluctuations” can have on debt laden smallholder farmers.
Through its policy hub programme, AGRA is driving the corporate agenda that aims to harmonise seed laws to the lowest common denominator that would stop farmers retaining seeds and instead pave the way for the introduction of patented GE seeds, despite the concerns of farmers.
It seems that AGRA has listened to farmers’ concerns about these seeds and then carried on regardless, discarding their opposition as “a farce”. Greenpeace believes that only ecological farming can clearly help farmers by optimising traditional agriculture with the latest developments in technology research and knowledge-based systems.
Instead of driving farmers into the unreliable arms of commodity markets, organisations like AGRA and their funders should fund additional research into ecological farming, schooling for farmers and informational support services provided by other NGOs, research centres and foundations.
Ecological farming is the only system that empowers local farmers to feed themselves and their families, keep income in their communities, preserve their livelihoods and the ecosystems of Africa. This is the agricultural future farmers and all of us want to see for Africa, not corporate greed.