Transitioning to Clean Energy in T&T

January 13th, 2024

By Kay Baldeosingh-Arjune

Professor Andrew Jupiter, Past President, The National Energy Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd

Professor Andrew Jupiter
 Past President
The National Energy Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd.

According to Energy Expert Andrew Jupiter, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) has not missed the boat when it comes to the energy transition. But urgent decisions and actions must be taken if T&T is to press its advantage as an experienced, established energy producer, benefit from falling solar energy technology prices, and prepare the economy to thrive in a world that needs and rewards clean energy producers.

Jupiter warns, in a no-nonsense paper, of dire consequences if successive governments of Trinidad and Tobago do not implement an aggressive energy transition policy and “the country sleep-walks toward 2050 in the mistaken belief that somehow oil and gas production will continue to support cheap electricity, substantial government budgets and large exports of liquefied natural gas, ammonia and methanol.” Entitled “Suggested Energy Transition Policy for Trinidad and Tobago, The Next 50 Years,” published in 2021, Jupiter and his co-author Dr. Pedro van Meurs of Van Meurs Energy, said: “The most important conclusion of this report is that Trinidad and Tobago does NOT have a competitive advantage in producing renewable energy.”

Without an aggressive policy to attract investment in energy transition projects, they predicted the closure of T&T’s methanol and fertiliser plants which would be unable to compete with their greener competitors, closure of the cement factory because of the lack of natural gas, and a static Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of US$18,000 per annum. Noting the destabilising social impact this would have, Jupiter said: “It, therefore, seems justified that nations like T&T should focus first on saving the national economy before trying to save the world.”

He said this requires urgently improving fiscal incentives to accelerate deepwater exploration and encouraging private solar energy generation, electric vehicles (EVs) and electric air taxis, combined cycle gas plants and green hydrogen and green ammonia production. In addition, “the whole country knows that subsidisation of electricity is something that should be addressed,” he noted.

We need to have a clear plan with timelines and a clear and transparent reporting process to keep the public informed and the government, as the driver of the plan, accountable, he said. Key milestones and timelines proposed in Jupiter’s paper include:

  • Commitment by the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) to produce 20% of electricity production from renewables and establish licensed areas for offshore wind generation by 2025.
  • EVs will comprise 20% of vehicle imports, and the first electric air taxi will begin service by 2030.
  • By 2035, fertilisers will be produced based on green or blue ammonia to avoid European levies, and inter-island ferries will be electric or powered by renewable marine fuel.
  • By 2040, all ammonia exports to be based on green hydrogen.
  • By 2045, the first DirectAir Capture (DAC) project will be initiated.
  • By 2050, all electricity production will be based on renewables, and T&T will begin to export synthetic jet fuel.
  • By 2060, T&T will achieve Net-Zero Carbon, it will become a large green ammonia exporter to world markets and a green hydrogen and synthetic fuels exporter to the Caribbean; all imported vehicles are EVs, and GDP per capita has significantly increased.