While the Cayman 2.0 series has thus far been looking at the ideas and strategies that could make the country a better place, we’re changing things up for December. This month, we’re highlighting 21 people who could turn some of those ideas into reality – or at least get the ball rolling – over the next calendar year.
It’s easy to see how GreenTech owner James Whittaker could help transform Cayman’s energy sector. He’s the man in charge of one of Cayman’s prominent solar-energy businesses and heads up the Cayman Renewable Energy Association, a group that lobbies on behalf of the industry.
“Our goal is really to help transform Cayman’s energy sector. We’d like to see this grow into another pillar of the economy,” he said.
There were more than 11 million renewable-energy-related jobs globally in 2019, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s annual review. Of those, 3.8 million were related specifically to solar power. Whittaker said Cayman can directly benefit from employment in this sector.
“From an economic standpoint, this industry can create hundreds of jobs. It can support thousands of jobs indirectly,” he said. “Educating Caymanians to make sure that we take over in this industry and that we dominate this industry here locally, for me, is personally important.”
Beyond dollars and cents, however, Whittaker points to the benefits of combating climate change. Cayman’s National Energy Policy calls for the country to use 70% renewable energy sources by 2037 and Whittaker says a planned update report in 2022 will show Cayman is behind schedule.
21 people in 2001
There are a lot of moving parts in getting there, and Whittaker said businesses like his must work hand-in-hand with entities like Caribbean Utilities Company and utility regulator OfReg, even if their respective visions may differ.
“We have been providing our time and effort to lobby the government, lobby with the regulator and provide some factual data to help to craft and create these programmes” he said.
Whittaker said it will be important to try to expand capacity for residential solar users in tandem with large-scale projects like CUC’s Bodden Town solar farm in order to drive down costs.
“Right now, because we’re doing it very piecemeal and single-digit type of energy capacity of our total energy, it’s not making the impact that it could,” he said.
That’s also why his company is focussing on other products like energy storage, allowing consumers to store the energy they produce.
His vision includes positioning Cayman as a renewable energy leader.
“What it’s going to allow us to do as this industry grows domestically… [is] to be that destination of excellence in the region, but also export that. “My company and other companies are doing work outside of Cayman. That’s only going to grow. So I really think Cayman has an opportunity to really reshape its brand.”