Part Two: Powering the Future of Sustainable Energy Through Caribbean Collaboration

In case you missed it, see Part One here.

No capacity development effort can be complete without interventions that enhance the existing regional energy sector. As the Caribbean pivots towards a path that will take it to a future in which every Caribbean citizen has access to modern, clean, affordable, and reliable energy, our hardworking energy sector professionals must have the support they need to lead the charge. This is why the Technical Assistance Programme for Sustainable Energy in the Caribbean (TAPSEC) worked closely with its regional partners to advance initiatives that bridged the gap between education and employment while providing access to critical training and high-quality data through several projects. Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union (EU), TAPSEC worked closely with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) and the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) and many other regional institutions, supporting their enduring efforts in this regard.

Guiding the Future Energy Leaders

Education is nothing without the opportunity to put it to use. TAPSEC worked with its regional partners to create that opportunity for the region’s future energy leaders through internship programmes that would allow them to build firsthand experience within the sustainable energy sector. 

Designed by the CARICOM Secretariat Energy Unit (CCS) and implemented by TAPSEC, the Regional Energy Apprenticeship Programme (REAP) allowed recent graduates and university students in sustainable energy-related programmes to partner with mentors at pioneering regional sustainable energy institutions including the CCS, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC), the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) and the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF). For three to 12 months, the interns gained technical expertise in the fields of energy systems development, energy diplomacy, knowledge management and communications, programme management and policy and regulatory affairs.

Supported by TAPSEC and implemented by CCREEE, the Caribbean Energy Data Collection Internship recruited young professionals from 20 Caribbean territories to assist with the massive data collection exercise behind the compilation of the CARICOM Energy Report Cards (ERC). Like the REAPs, the ERC interns picked up invaluable insights into their chosen fields. 

In fact, several of the interns in both programmes were offered long-term positions upon completion, proving that internships can be a critical means of allowing young professionals to take those first critical steps on their path to eventual leadership in the sustainable energy arena. 

Taking a Technological LEAP Forward

A successful pivot to energy sustainability requires careful planning. Used in nearly 190 countries worldwide, the Low Emissions Analysis Platform (LEAP) software exists to facilitate this planning. As a climate mitigation planning and development tool, it takes in energy sector data, analyzes energy sector scenarios and determines what a nation’s renewable energy targets should be. 

To use this tool effectively, energy sector professionals require specialised training, which was provided by CCREEE in partnership with TAPSEC via the LEAP Training Programme. Led by Dr. Charles Heaps, Energy Modelling Programme Director at the Stockholm Environment Institute, the three-phase training series welcomed 140 energy sector professionals from 14 of the 15 CARICOM nations. The participants came from various parts of the regional energy industry—including utilities, regulators, universities, and government ministries— to learn how to use the platform to develop their respective energy sectors. They left with an understanding of how to input and analyse data and, for those who completed the final phase, how to tailor the software to their national energy sector’s needs.

With the benefit of this training, these energy sector professionals are now ready to help their respective nations create plans to develop their energy sectors sustainably. Some of them will do so via the TAPSEC-supported Energy Modelling and Renewable Virtual Integration (EMREV) Laboratory, which was established to provide access to critical energy sector data to governments across the region.

Putting Everything Energy at the Region’s Fingertips

To make the kinds of decisions that will move our region toward energy sustainability, our governments need high-quality data. Unfortunately, reliable data has historically been hard to come by for a region as diverse as the Caribbean. To address this issue, CCREEE teamed up with TAPSEC to create the CARICOM Energy Knowledge Hub (CEKH). Structured into five components, this groundbreaking information and knowledge management framework provides precise, up-to-date energy-related data to governments, utilities, universities, and the public. 

CEKH users can access online courses, a document repository, engage in discussions, view geographic energy data in the map viewer and access curated content from across the region in the resource section all filtered depending on their level of access. The platform also houses energy data tools such as the TAPSEC-supported Regional Energy Information System for CARICOM (sieCARICOM). Custom-built by the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) under CCREEE’s guidance, sieCARICOM collects and processes energy sector data to guide regional energy management and planning in line with international best practices. 

With this abundance of verified data sourced from a variety of private and public sources, institutions across the region now have a strong foundation for the policies, plans and research that will chart the course toward low-carbon, climate-compatibility.

TAPSEC came to a close in June of 2022, with a jam-packed ceremony featuring stakeholders from across the region and the wider world. As they came together to take stock of the Programme’s expansive technical and financial assistance for the regional sustainable energy transition, many of them noted how TAPSEC’s efforts will live on through the projects it supported. The Programme’s efforts to build regional capacity will live on in the up-and-coming engineers whose designs will incorporate renewable energy/energy efficiency concepts. They will live on in the energy sector professionals putting their training to work to help their nations reach their Nationally Determined Contributions. They will live on in the new plans and policies informed by the abundance of accurate data now available. 

Above all, they will live on in future projects undertaken by regional institutions such as implementing partners the CARICOM Secretariat and CCREEE as they continue clearing the path towards the sustainable energy future our region deserves. 

Stay tuned for future pieces exploring TAPSEC’s impacts on the sustainable energy transition in the arenas of policy development and finance.