Towards an energy efficient Trinidad & Tobago

November 17th, 2021

Andre Escalante
Managing Director and Founder Energy Dynamics Limited

What is the outlook for a more energy efficient T&T
in 2021/2022?

The outlook is good – not excellent – for a more energy-efficient Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago is somewhat different than most other islands in the Caribbean with respect to energy as follows:

  • The country boasts the lowest energy cost in Caribbean and amongst the lowest in the Western Hemisphere @ US$0.06/kWh.
  • Trinidad and Tobago buildings have the highest energy use index in the Caribbean at over 260 kWh/m2 yr whereas most islands are under 160 kWh/m2 yr (40% lower)
  • Because of its low energy cost, the culture of the people is one of waste with respect to energy – lights, appliances and equipment are left on continuously with little or no regard for the energy consumption and cost.
  • There has been an increase in demand from the private and residential sectors to reduce energy costs driven by the current economic situation and also due to the  Government’s indication of a pending increase in energy costs.

How can businesses and individuals practise energy conservation?

  • A recent Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) study of a public building in Trinidad found  a 20% reduction in energy consumption through low cost /no cost initiatives. Plans are being made to expand the pilot in all Ministries which will have a significant impact on energy conservation in public buildings.
  • The high energy use index of over 260 kWh/m2 yr that we have seen in the local public and private sector means that there is an opportunity to reduce energy consumption by a minimum of 20%. Residential customers can convert all their lighting to LED, consider solar water heaters, timers to switch off  lights and equipment when not in use and prepare to retrofit their old AC system to high efficiency systems.

What can be done to attract businesses into the sector?

  • Introduce incentives and disincentives to attract businesses into the Energy Efficient (EE) and Alternative Energy (AE) sectors.  The current low cost of energy does not make the economics of using EE and AE technologies very attractive. Removing subsidies will raise the cost of energy and hence increase the demand of these technologies.
  • Implement the Energy Services Companies (ESCO) legislation set up in 2010, with necessary modifications along with the tax incentives to attract business into this industry. When the ESCO legislation was passed in 2010, many new businesses entered the industry hoping to obtain returns, but when then legislation was not fully implemented (not one company was certified as an ESCO) many dropped out. 
  • Pass the law to allow people to use Solar PV systems and tie onto the grid. Disincentives can include raising import duties on incandescent bulbs, electric water heaters and inefficient AC systems to make the EE and AE technologies more competitive.

Article by: Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune

Kay Baldeosingh Arjune