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On Energy, CARICOM Secretariat practising what we preach: Secretary-General

Remarks by

CARICOM Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett

at the

Handover Ceremony for the Solar Photovoltaic Power Generation Plant with Battery and Power Conditioning Systems at the CARICOM Secretariat

  • Your Excellency Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana;
  • Hon. Brigadier (Ret’d.) Mark Phillips, Prime Minister and First Vice-President;
  • Hon. Hugh Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation;
  • Your Excellency Tatsuo Hirayama, Ambassador of Japan to Guyana and CARICOM;
  • Mr. Tsutomi Kobayashi, Chief Representative in the Caribbean for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA);
  • Senior Officials of Guyana and Japan;
  • Deputy Secretary General Alexis and Assistant Secretary General Cox;
  • Specially invited guest, former Deputy Secretary‑General,              Dr. Manorma Soeknandan, who was so close to this project over the years;
  • Members of the Media;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, here at the Secretariat and online.

Welcome to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and to this Handover Ceremony for the Solar Photovoltaic Power Generation Plant with Battery and Power Conditioning Systems.  This event holds symbolic significance, representing a coming together of ambition, innovation, and partnership.

Ambition to pursue, through projects such as these, our aspirations of secure and resilient energy supplies that are capable of supporting our sustainable development needs over the decades to come.

Innovation to harness advanced technologies which support strategies of Small Island and Low-lying Coastal Developing States (SIDS) to radically change their climate mitigation and adaptation circumstances through, among other things, the transfer of finance and technology to solve the challenge of energy, economy and climate.  

Partnership on many levels within the spirit of functional cooperation through which we pursued a common interest of positioning this project to demonstrate the possibilities of sustainable energy transition within CARICOM.

The ambition which this project represents is anchored within a Regional strategy, which commits all our Member States to pursue opportunities for integrating renewable energy resources with energy efficiency measures to meet energy needs in support of economic, social architecture and environmental sustainability.

Growth is fragile and vulnerable for CARICOM countries. We are exposed to hazardous features over which we have little control or influence. The current pandemic serves as a manifestation of this.  The exposure of our countries to a variety of global shocks is greatly heightened by the challenge of adapting to extreme weather events, which interrupt economic development and force us to adjust public and private sector investment to the severe losses and damages caused by these events.

The innovative design principles, which underlie this project, take the natural hazards of the project site, such as flooding into consideration and reflects the approach promoted within Integrated Resource and Resilience Planning, through which CARICOM Member States, including Guyana, are already developing Integrated Resource and Resilience Plans. These Plans promote the “shifting” of their electricity systems away from the traditional, legacy designs to modern, smart and resilient alternatives that are capable of more effectively supporting their national targets on sustainable energy and climate, in particular, and their sustainable development and investment goals in general.

Partnerships have been critical in implementing this project successfully.  At the highest level, partnership among the leadership of the Government of Japan, the Government of Guyana and the CARICOM Secretariat provided the basis for creating the arrangements for developing and financing this project.

Within Guyana, the partnership among the Secretariat, several Ministries and Agencies of Government, including particularly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Guyana Revenue Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, Guyana Power and Light, and Guyana Energy Agency, and Guyana-based staff from the Japanese-headquartered Consultancy and Supplier firms, and the local sub-contractor.

Here at the Secretariat, partnership across several Offices and Directorates was critical as well.  This included collaboration across the Office of the Deputy Secretary-General; Directorate of Trade and Economic Integration and our Administrative Services, Integrated Information Systems and Communication Units.

This project was delayed by the COVID‑19 pandemic when, as part of the public health measures to safeguard the lives and health of the personnel involved, implementation of the activity was suspended on 30 April 2020. It is because of the dedicated and reliable commitment of every single partner to the ideals that are represented by the project, that the work resumed in June 2021 and safely concluded in December 2021.      

This PV power generation system is expected to generate more electricity than is required by the Secretariat for its operation on an annual basis, and the expectation is that the available excess energy would “feed‑in” to the utility grid during its off‑peak operation periods. The Secretariat is seeking to conclude the legal arrangements, which will attend the bi-directional flow of electricity with GPL, within this quarter. 

The investment of more than US$7 million by the Government of Japan is already transforming the way in which the Secretariat is sourcing and using energy at the Headquarters building, which itself was built with considerable assistance from the Government of Japan. On behalf of the Community, I wish to thank Japan, represented by the Ambassador here today, for sharing the energy vision of CARICOM: that all CARICOM citizens have access to modern, clean and reliable energy supplies at affordable and stable prices”. Today, we can say that, where energy is concerned, at the CARICOM Secretariat we are practicing what we preach.

It is, therefore, with much appreciation and a great sense of possibilities for future regional development that I welcome you to witness this Handover Ceremony today.

Thank you.

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