The Cayman Islands government is looking at a partnership agreement with the UK to support the introduction of renewable energy in the islands to meet the climate change goals set out in the National Energy Policy.
Cayman aims to generate 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2037.
At a virtual renewable energy forum, organised last week by the Cayman Islands Renewable Energy Association, the minister responsible for infrastructure, Joey Hew, confirmed that his ministry is in the process of preparing a Cabinet paper, with the assistance of the Governor’s Office, to enter into a partnership with the UK government.
Hew said the agreement would provide “access to the expertise that we need” to accelerate policies and regulations that promote the adoption and integration of renewables in the local energy mix.
Speaking at the same event, Governor Martyn Roper said now is the opportune time to ask for that support, because the UK is hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in November 2021 in Glasgow.
Renewable energy can play an absolutely fundamental role in addressing climate change, he said.
“Minister Hew, as the renewable energy lead, has agreed to me seeking technical expert support from the UK in several key areas, including a grid integration study to inform the impact of adding more renewables.”
Other studies would touch on modernising Cayman’s grid, rolling out solar panels on government buildings and developing a programme to support energy-efficient building renovations for low- and middle-income households.
“I will also seek independent advice on ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) as a firm source of renewable energy,” he said.
The potential Cayman-UK partnership agreement, aimed at supporting Cayman on climate change and the environment, would further cover UK technical support on climate change risk mapping and biodiversity protection.
“2020 must be a key turning point for the environment,” Roper said. “We must urgently scale up action to respond to the threat of climate change, particularly for the most vulnerable countries, and communities at the frontline of climate impacts.”
Cayman as a low-lying island, which relies on imports, is one of those vulnerable communities that is more at risk from the impact of climate change, which includes an increase in stronger storms and hurricanes, heightened flood risk, and the loss of natural defences, he said.
Hew noted that the instability caused by global events over the past month demonstrated how vulnerable the Cayman Islands and other countries in the region are to market volatility and having their energy supplies disrupted.
“If anyone has any doubts about the realities of climate change, you need only look at the weather disasters that have occurred and continue to occur today and see the undeniable link between the two,” he said.
“While the Cayman Islands and other territories in the region are not major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, we will all have to accelerate our climate action plan, as we will not escape the global climate challenges without transitioning to green energy.”