Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary
Global Sustainable Energy Islands Initiative
About the Cyberlibrary
The Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary was developed by Mick Kelly and Sarah Granich on behalf of the Stockholm Environment Institute and the International Institute for Environment and Development, with sponsorship from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site, and on other sites that are referenced here, is accurate, no liability for loss or damage resulting from use of this information can be accepted.
The forty-three members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) are among the most vulnerable to global climate change with its accompanying sea level rise and increased extreme weather events.
Most Small Island Developing States are already ill-equipped to deal with their existing environmental problems, such as coastal and coral degradation, explosive population growth, over development and pollution. These problems will worsen as the impacts of land submergence, beach erosion, coral damage and storms take their toll.
Climate change threatens the very existence of many AOSIS members even though they are the innocent, the smallest emitters of greenhouse gases. Nations such as the Maldives, Tuvalu and Kiribati are just a few metres above sea level.
Compounding the challenge of global warming, most Small Island Developing States struggle with expensive and sometimes unreliable fossil fuel imports. Diesel is the dominant source of electricity, at least for those with it, and can cost as much as US40 cents/kWh. Seventy per cent of Pacific Islanders, however, still do not have access.
Fortunately, though, the need for change has coincided with the greater affordability and availability of alternatives to fossil fuel. The cost of renewable energy has come down dramatically. Small Island Developing States are especially suited to utilize combinations of modern renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures.
Finding an international solution
Some years ago, Ambassador Slade challenged the Climate Institute, a Washington DC-based non-governmental organization, to work with AOSIS to find energy solutions.
As a result, the Global Sustainable Energy Islands Initiative (GSEII) has been organized to support Small Island Developing States and potential private investors and donors by bringing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, models and concepts together into national sustainable energy plans. The GSEII, a consortium of international non-governmental organizations and multilateral institutions, seeks to showcase national efforts that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Global Sustainable Energy Islands Initiative was launched with a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. This grant enabled the consortium to initiate sustainable energy plans and policies as well as communications and outreach in three Caribbean countries - St Lucia, Grenada and Dominica - as well as other AOSIS nations.
The United Nations Foundation has enabled the consortium to advance projects in these three island nations as well as to expand activities to other island nations within the Caribbean and the Pacific. This grant will also help in identifying and developing financing for replication in the region. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization is the executing agency and partner.
More recently, the consortium has also received support from two new funders - the United States Agency for International Development and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership.
The Organization of American States, a consortium member, has also obtained support from the Global Environment Fund and the United Nations Development Programme to develop a pre-feasibility study for geothermal resource assessment in Dominica, St Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis.
The GSEII strategy
To accelerate the transition of AOSIS member nations toward cleaner, more sustainable energy use, the GSEII employs the following approach to both broaden and deepen sustainable energy development activities:
Though Small Island Developing States are especially suited to utilize combinations of modern renewable technologies and energy efficiency due to the availability of renewable energy resources and current energy consumption patterns, there are difficulties in achieving this potential.
Most Small Island Developing States lack technical knowledge and skilled personal, and there are still too few successful demonstration projects that can be seen and touched.
Utilities depend on diesel, and their staffs have little or no experience of renewables or access to resource assessments. The Maldives, for instance, at the time of initiating plans, had no engineer with renewable energy expertise.
In addition, renewables often have a high upfront cost, while utilities suffer from a scarcity of finance.
The Cabinet of the beautiful Caribbean nation of St Lucia was the first to approach GSEII for assistance. Working with the government, utility, business and the community, a comprehensive energy plan has been prepared and adopted by the Cabinet. The aim is to have renewables account for new capacity, replace outdated diesels and encourage energy efficiency.
Dominica and Grenada have joined the project and jointly announced their ambitious targets at the World Summit in Johannesburg.
Dominica's former Prime Minister, the late Pierre Charles, said "my country, known as the Nature Island of the Caribbean, has long embraced the principles of sustainable development and sees clean energy as a fundamental requirement for economic and social progress." The national target, building on existing 33 per cent use of hydropower, aims to achieve 65 per cent renewable energy use by 2010.
"Our dependence on expensive foreign energy has done nothing to help development or deliver affordable energy to the poor. Small Island States need support from developed nations to succeed in their energy plans - technical assistance, new technologies, soft financing and joint venture partners," he added.
The GSEII five-year sustainable energy plan
As a result of assessing the immediate energy needs of the small islands, the GSEII developed an ambitious five-year plan.
The fundamental aims of the plan are to assist several Small Island Developing States that are members of AOSIS in achieving energy independence and thus to serve as successful models for the rest of the world.
The GSEII's strategies and plans run from 2003 to 2008. It is expected that the following outcomes will be achieved as a result of implementing this five-year plan:
The Fiji Department of Energy has, amongst other initiatives, developed a village-based hybrid wind, solar and diesel scheme, and provides mini hydro and coconut oil options elsewhere. The Fiji Electricity Authority is negotiating for a major wind power investment to service the grid.
Encouraged and assisted by the Pacific Power Association, the ocean-wide regional electric utilities organization, five Pacific nations and the European Union are finalizing individual country sustainable energy projects.
Elsewhere, the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment of the Organization of American States is executing a Global Environment Facility project to support geothermal energy development in the Eastern Caribbean.
The Eastern Caribbean Geothermal Development Project (Geo-Caraïbes) seeks to catalyse commercial geothermal energy projects in St Lucia, Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis with the expectation that regional power independence will contribute significantly to the economic and environmental sustainability in the region.
Geo-Caraïbes intends to achieve this goal by supporting market reforms that improve the market conditions for geothermal power in these countries. The following are the main avenues of support:
It is expected that a large quantity of geothermal energy capacity (60-120MW) will be developed and that the resulting power will offer the host countries a low-cost power solution. At the same time, this will enable them to generate substantial income as an export to Martinique and/or Guadeloupe via submarine electricity transmission cables.
In St Lucia, Grenada and Dominica, the GSEII has assisted in developing National Sustainable Energy Plans as well as preparing projects for investments. As a result of these plans, and working closely with local utilities and private sector entrepreneurs, a number of projects have been identified. GSEII and its partners are providing technical assistance in further development and implementation of these projects.
GSEII will also work with the local governments and project developers on the development and packaging of projects for carbon financing through the Clean Development Mechanism, the Prototype Carbon Fund and other sources.
These efforts will be coordinated by the GSEII by working closely with existing regional organizations and multilateral initiatives. These include the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the Caribbean Energy Information Systems, the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility.
The GSEII partners aim to continue their Caribbean work, possibly adding additional nations, and to help develop sustainable energy plans for Pacific and Indian Ocean countries. The United Nations-sponsored review meeting of the 1994 Barbados Plan of Action to be held in January in Mauritius provides an excellent opportunity for the showcasing of successful demonstration projects.
We must show the Mauritius participants and the international community that sustainable energy is not only an environmental necessity, but also makes economic and social sense.
On the Web
General Electric plans to cut solar installation costs by half
Project 90 by 2030 supports South African school children and managers reduce their carbon footprint through its Club programme
Bath & North East Somerset Council in the United Kingdom has installed smart LED carriageway lighting that automatically adjusts to light and traffic levels
The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Public Gardens Association are mounting an educational exhibit at Longwood Gardens showing the link between temperature and planting zones
The energy-efficient Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers hotel is powered by renewable and sustainable sources, including integrated solar photovoltaics and guest-powered bicycles
El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, plans to generate 80 per cent of its energy from renewable sources
The green roof on the Remarkables Primary School in New Zealand reduces stormwater runoff, provides insulation and doubles as an outdoor classroom
The Weather Info for All project aims to roll out up to five thousand automatic weather observation stations throughout Africa
SolSource turns its own waste heat into electricity or stores it in thermal fabrics, harnessing the sun's energy for cooking and electricity for low-income families
The Wave House uses vegetation for its architectural and environmental qualities, and especially in terms of thermal insulation
The Mbale compost-processing plant in Uganda produces cheaper fertilizer and reduces greenhouse gas emissions
At Casa Grande, Frito-Lay has reduced energy consumption by nearly a fifth since 2006 by, amongst other things, installing a heat recovery system to preheat cooking oil