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Jamaica Observer: Ditch LNG, go green — global think tank

Posted onMay 24, 2012underIndustry News Jamaica Bureau

(Kingston, Jamaica) — JAMAICA should pursue the investment opportunities presented by renewable energy rather than focus on fossil fuels like LNG, says a global think tank.

“There is great potential for local economies in investing in renewable energy,” said Mark Konold, head of the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, which is identifying opportunities for low-carbon, energy developments in the Caribbean.

Worldwide figures for investment in renewables has shot up steadilly, said the organisation. Countries around the globe put over US$200 billion ($17.4 trillion) into non-carbon-based energy projects last year, as compared to the US$40 billion invested in oil, coal and gas.

Developing nations have led the pack in financing these projects, underscoring the growing recognition of how the cost of traditional energy sources eat into a country’s GDP, said Konold.

“Acting rapidly and ambitiously will not only serve social needs, it is also an economically superior approach to ‘we’ll wait and see’,” he said. Being more aggressive up front, taking more action immediately, “gets more results than being cautious”.

The government’s target for increasing the use of renewable energy to 30 per cent by 2030 is a ‘bold’ move, said Konold, as long-term vision is necessary to foster growth in the industry.

“If I’m an investor, I know how long this project will be and that lets me know how well it will do for me economically,” he said. “That kind of certainty is important.”

Konold is head of the Worldwatch Institute’s assessment of the energy sectors in Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which is aimed at helping the countries reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports. His group will present a low-carbon energy roadmap for Jamaica to the ministry of energy, which will focus on the underuse of natural resources such as solar and wind power.

The market alone cannot lead the process, Konold said, underlining how important it is that the Government be streamlined.

“Government has to play a very strong role,” he said. “For example, Germany doesn’t have as many natural resources as Jamaica, but renewable energy has succeeded there because of strong leadership in terms of policies.”

The group will be back in Jamaica before the end of the year to present their findings to the ministry. The project —which is funded by the German government — started in November 2010 and is slated to end in January of next year.

By Ishena Robinson, Business reporter, The Jamaica Observer