Premier speaks at Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum | Loop Cayman Islands

The content originally appeared on: Cayman Compass

The Premier and Minister for Sustainability & Climate Resiliency, G. Wayne Panton, JP, MP delivered a speech today as a keynote speaker at the 14th Annual Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF) Conference in Miami. During the CREF Conference, the Premier announced a major policy shift in the Cayman Islands progression towards meeting or exceeding the goal of 70 per cent of electricity generation coming from renewable sources by 2037. The change is that, going forward the Government intends to have a majority ownership stake in the country’s future utility scale renewable energy infrastructure.

The Premier joins a number of other Caribbean Heads of State and Ministers, renewable energy specialists, regional utilities, financing institutions and NGOs, to discuss a range of topics. These include: the development of resilient and renewable energy in the Caribbean; key challenges to meeting regional energy transition and decarbonisation goals; fostering regional cooperation and partnerships; and putting clean energy front and centre both as a national and regional priority.

“The policy decision to be involved at the ownership level is intended to help the Cayman Islands secure its own energy future by accelerating the adoption of renewable energy in accordance with the National Energy Policy – it will help the country become energy independent and more resilient in the face of natural disasters. It will also help stabilise energy costs by reducing the impact of the volatility typical of fossil fuel pricing. The decision will incrementally reduce the outflow of money for fossil fuel and thus also help to maximize the social, economic and environmental benefits to the Caymanian people, thereby helping to ensure our country’s sustainable future,” said Premier Wayne Panton.

The intent is to have a majority ownership stake in future utility scale renewable energy generation assets in partnership with other investors and individual citizens, the Government does not intend to acquire any existing utility assets or negatively impact consumer owned renewables.

The World Bank commodity outlook anticipates global exponential increases in the prices of fuel, oil, agriculture and other resources into 2024; disruptions to supply chains resulting from the war in Ukraine has led to widespread inflation, and the biggest rise in natural gas prices in Europe since the 1973 oil price hike. The Cayman Islands’ commitment to this new national model will allow for greater predictability over future energy prices; ownership will be in partnership with others to keep a larger percentage of economic returns within our community.

“We have to make up for lost time. Faster adoption of renewable energy moves us closer to energy security and energy independence. The Cayman Islands is not immune from the global price shocks – the increasing energy prices and increasing costs of other consumer items will drive up the cost of living. Now that the Government has stated its policy intent, the real work begins: we will commence stakeholder engagement to design the implementation plan.” he added.

Hon. Chris Saunders, MP, Deputy Premier, Minister for Finance and Economic Development, and Minister for Employment and Border Control was also scheduled to speak on a policy makers panel on the topic of the case for energy independence and the landscape for the energy transition in the Caribbean. However, as Deputy Premier is isolating due to COVID-19, Acting Minister Isaac Rankin represented the Cayman Islands on the panel.

Kristen Smith, National Energy Policy Coordinator and Senior Policy Advisor for the Ministry of Sustainability & Climate Resiliency, is also moderating a Cayman Islands focused panel featuring Mr. Richard Hew, CEO of CUC, Mr. James Whittaker, Chairman of the National Energy Policy Council and Mr. Gregg Anderson, Executive Director of Energy and Utilities at OffReg. Ms. Smith attended various pre-conference workshops, including ‘Women in Renewable Energy’ co-hosted by the Clinton Foundation and Women in Renewable Energy Network (WIRE).