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Energy Task Force Report Says Montserrat Needs to Invest Heavily in Renewables

Montserrat needs to choose its future and invest in green energy, says a new report.

The report from the Energy Task Force, outlining key recommendations for developing Montserrat’s Renewable Energy resource, which was released today has been approved by Cabinet.

Kenrick Burke, Director of Energy for the Ministry of Communications, Works, Labour, and Energy

The Energy Task Force was commissioned by the Ministry of Communications, Works, Labour and Energy (MCWLE) in 2020 to propose how best to exploit the island’s vast, indigenous, renewable energy resource. Comprising stakeholders in the public and private sector, the task force was directed to recommend solutions to overcome potential economic, technical, regulatory, and other barriers to the rapid and expeditious development of local renewable energy resources.

MCWLE Minister Dr. Samuel Joseph said “Montserrat’s future is highly dependent on its ability to compete in a globalised market. Our energy security and independence are crucial to us meeting this objective. Once we have set a path to implement clean and sustainable energy, it is believed that the country’s economy will improve, and we as a people can enjoy a better standard of living. Our government has made energy a priority; hence, the Energy Task Force’s formulation was a strategy deployed to help meet our strategic objectives.”

The Task Force began its work at the end of May 2020 and met eight times, both virtually and in person, up to the beginning of February 2021. The Task Force benefited from presentations and information presented on wind energy, distributed energy, RE evaluation Matrix, Hatch Consulting IRP and an alternative integrated resource plan (IRP).

The Energy Task Force Report offers an in-depth look at the opportunities and barriers to developing solar, wind, hydro power, tidal (ocean) power, geothermal resources, and the potential implications of doing nothing.

“Montserrat must choose between two energy futures. Currently, imported fossil fuels provide 99.4 percent of Montserrat’s energy needs. Choosing a business-as-usual route, which would sustain and potentially even exacerbate our dependence, exposes us to the tremendous risk of oil and gas price fluctuations and shocks, possible supply disruptions, and rising greenhouse gas levels. Alternatively, the country can take a deep plunge into securing its energy future by investing heavily in renewable energy,” the report stated.

Chairman of the task force and Director of Energy for the Government of Montserrat, Kenrick Burke said, “We believe that a more prudent choice for Montserrat is an aggressive and multi-faceted strategy of diversification and development of the most feasible indigenous energy resources.”

The report looks at increased investment in energy efficiency and demand management, development of small-scale distributed resources, development of a geothermal plant, and development of large-scale wind and solar resources.

“Of all these alternatives, however, by far the largest and most capable of supporting a low carbon energy future that is largely decoupled from foreign disruption is the development of the local geothermal resource. Geothermal energy holds the potential to supply beyond 100% of Montserrat’s energy needs,” the report noted.

According to the Energy Task Force Report, “Montserrat has the potential to emerge as a net energy exporter through the aggressive development of its geothermal resources.”

A significant barrier highlighted in the 129-page document is the lack of financing for project implementation. Several strategies on exploring the various financing options available to Montserrat are provided, a time-bound approach on accessing grant funding, debt financing and other alternative financing solutions are presented.

Permanent Secretary of MCWLE, Colin Fergus said, “The ministry has reviewed the final report and will include its findings in our ministerial strategic plan.”

The Task Force’s recommendations include:
–        Establishment of a committee to investigate possible models for allowing distributed energy systems (DES) on the national grid without adversely impacting MUL and the lower end ratepayers.
–        GoM/MUL giving special rate consideration for large consumers as a means of attracting direct foreign investment in Montserrat.
–       Development of a comprehensive plan to address any inefficiencies that may exist within MUL to facilitate an acceptable electricity rate.
–        Establishment of an independent and transparent electricity regulatory commission.
–       GOM must actively explore securing grant funding or a commitment for financing from FCDO towards financing a major renewable energy project.
–        GOM must secure Britain’s approval to pursue the option of debt financing.

The members of the task force are Director of Energy, MCWEL Kenrick Burke, who was selected as the Task Force Chairman; Head of Programme Management (PMO), Martin Parlett; who was chosen as Vice-chair while Laboratory Manager, MCWEL Rolando Kassie, who was selected as Coordinator. Other members include Consultant, Owen Lewis; Managing Director, MUL, Kendall Lee and Director of Fish-N-Fins, Veta Wade.

Read the complete Energy Task Report