Energy Efficiency

Main applications

Lighting, household appliances, air-conditioning, commercial cooling and ventilation systems, consumer behavior, building energy management systems, building design and materials.

Energy Efficiency Background

Over the past decade, primary energy consumption in the CARICOM region has grown. The below graph shows the per capita consumption of primary energy across the CARICOM group of countries between 2000 and 2010.

Source: CCIC Business Plan

The importance of energy efficiency is highlighted by the below matrix which illustrates a comparison of national economic productivity (GDP per capita) with national energy efficiency (measured by the quantum of GDP that is produced per unit of energy consumption). Countries with the lowest performance in both measures are located in the bottom left of the grid and the highest performers in the top right. The majority of the CARICOM countries are located in the region of mid-to-low energy efficient performance. Two extreme outliers are Haiti with extremely low economic productivity and Trinidad and Tobago with very low energy efficiency.

Source: CCIC Business Plan

Energy Efficiency Opportunities

Energy efficiency is an area with considerable potential in the region but this opportunity is not being effectively exploited by the public and private sectors. At the policy level, no CARICOM country has yet passed specific energy efficiency legislation and at utility level, there is no legislated requirement to pursue efficiency: the region’s electrical generation and distribution utilities are not mandated to optimize their generation heat rates or to reduce their transmission/distribution losses. In addition, utilities are permitted to recover from customers all costs of purchasing imported fuel, regardless of the efficiency of its use.

On the demand side, the situation in the region has been mixed. In Jamaica, a 1994 GEF-funded demand side management (DSM) program produced significant positive outcomes, but the activity was not continued after the program expired in 1999 and it is unclear what the program’s impact has been, over a decade later. There are however enterprises that recognized the opportunities and have taken steps to position their businesses to benefit from the region’s high energy costs. For example, Solar Buzz Jamaica sells and installs Owl Energy monitors in homes and businesses so consumers can monitor their electricity usage. According to the company, once the monitors are installed, the average customer reduces their electricity consumption by 20 – 30%.

Elsewhere in the region, consumers are generally unaware of, or are confused by, the available options, costs and benefits of investing in energy efficiency. Part of the reason is a lack of basic information; a consequence of the Caribbean’s generally weak attempts in data collection, compilation, analysis and explanation. For example, during the late 2000s, the government of Cuba donated approximately 5 million compact fluorescent light bulbs to replace existing incandescent bulbs in households across the Caribbean – and to date, there has been no analysis or detailed public reporting on the overall outcome of the program. More to the point, there appears to have been no significant effort to complement the replacement program with the appropriate education and awareness activities – so that consumers could understand the significance of the exercise and use that understanding in future appliance purchase decisions. One outcome of this lack of follow-up is that consumer spending on lighting and household appliances is often not based on a consideration of life-cycle energy costs, but almost entirely on purchase price. This increases costs across the board – households spend more of their disposable income on energy costs; utilities and countries spend more to import fuel; more fuel is used; and more GHG emissions are produced.

However, the Trinidadian government has taken steps to engage and educate the public on energy efficiency through the ‘My Energy My Responsibility’ Campaign. Despite energy costs being substantially lower than in the rest of the Caribbean region, a team at the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs led by Mr Randy Ramadhar Singh (Adviser to the Minister on Renewable Energy Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs) recently commissioned and delivered the national promotional campaign to encourage citizens to save energy in their everyday lives. This included online resources, national advertisements and educational programs. This is part of a longer-term future-focused strategy to improve resource use efficiency and reduce carbon emissions as part of the country’s international commitments to climate change impact reduction. The initiative also is also intended to encourage the country’s private sector to become more sustainable and competitive in future global markets.

This situation presents significant challenges and opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in energy efficiency approaches that incorporate technology, systems and behavioral change.