Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 28th 2013 Contents 14
Since the end of 2010, there has been
the issue of a gas shortage circulating.
When the gas shortage began at the
end of 2010, downstream producers
were told it was a short-term issue.
However, late last year, the Ministry of
Energy said to expect a significant ease
when bpTT completes its maintenance
work by the end of 2013.
This issue is not specific to Trinidad and
Tobago (T&T). The Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) is also facing a severe gas
shortage. The GCC is made up of Bahrain,
Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and
the UAE and is a gas-exporting region. Ac-
cording to the global consultancy firm
Booz & Company, the GCC may soon be
While the gas shortage issue in T&T is
being blamed on bpTT's maintenance
works, the GCC's shortage is being
blamed on increasing power consumption,
depleting oil fields, gas exploration and
long-term gas export commitments.
Meanwhile, the United States (US) is ex-
periencing a shale gas boom, which has
given them the advantage over their natu-
ral gas-exporting competitors.
However, Charles Percy, president of
Methanex, one of this country's largest
methanol producers has said, "Let us be
fair, while shale gas is a major issue
going forward right now, T&T is
not the most competitive place
to invest in the downstream.
This has little to do with shale
gas or issues surrounding even
the price of gas; it has to do with
sufficient supply and reliability of supply.
Percy's comments came late last year
and today, the situation seems to have re-
mained the same, as when approached re-
cently, the company refused to comment,
stating only that they had spoken on this
issue already. Phoenix Park Gas Processors,
another downstream producer, also
stated that they were "not in a po-
sition to provide a comment
on the issue at this time".
This unreliability of
sufficient gas to oper-
ate at the usual capacity
for the past three years, has
indeed affected the competi-
tiveness of T&T's petrochemical
sector. Each country, which has been
experiencing a gas shortage problem, is
developing their own strategies to work
themselves out of this rut.
Therefore, we can only wait and see
how this pans out.
SM Solar, Port of Spain
Is it a matter of income or is it our low
electricity rates? Whatever the reason,
although the rest of the world is moving
towards the use of cleaner forms of en-
ergy, we in Trinidad and Tobago seem to
be falling behind.
So what needs to happen to ignite a
solar electricity generation revolution in
our country? First, one must look at the
cost of solar arrays and whether the com-
mon citizen of our nation can actually af-
ford it, and the answer is no.
Others would make a case, let's give out
incentives. Arguably, in an environment
where prices of our two major exports
continue to be depressed, tax incentives
will only cut into the country's revenue
streams making it unsustainable.
Revisiting the problem, what are the
main hurdles associated with solar energy
generating systems in our country? The an-
swer - it's the high upfront cost, low rates
and the absence of a legal framework. How
can the current administration overcome
these snags? There are several initiatives
that can be undertaken to move to cleaner
forms of electricity generation. One possi-
ble solution is the implementation of a
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)
Programme by the Regional Corporations.
This programme is rooted in traditional
land-secured municipal finance where a
local government creates an improvement
district. Bonds secured by real property
within the district are issued and the
bonds' proceeds are used to fund renew-
able energy and energy efficiency projects.
Property owners then repay the debt serv-
ice on the bond in fixed payments as part
of their property tax bill.
Unlike the Property Assessed Clean En-
ergy Programme or a Solar Power Pur-
chase Agreements, a Grid Tied
Government Assisted Model offers a
smooth transition from fossil fuel power
generation systems to cleaner forms of
energy, mainly solar power energy genera-
tion in an environment of subsidised rates
and no legal framework.
This is achieved by utilising a local
power company as the vehicle for change.
Rather than being another player, they can
act as the supplier of the solar modules
and/or other forms of alternative energy,
in the manner of a lease agreement. The
subscriber provides the space for the unit
or units; The company provides the instal-
lation, the sale of power is done by leasing
the power generating system, where the
homeowner pays them the current rate.
Since the equipment is leased to the
property holder, the excess power gener-
ated by the system goes back to the grid
at no benefit to the homeowner. This co-
generation arrangement in an environment
of declining photovoltaic modules and
components' prices will allow rates to
maintain their current levels, and once the
equipment is depreciated, the units can
now be sold in the local secondary market.
The core difference between PACE and
the Grid Tied Government Assisted Model,
is that there is no third party; all transac-
tions are conducted through the company.
This allows the participation of small and
midsize businesses in the solar energy busi-
ness to become involved, generating em-
Another important difference is that the
programme can be conducted at the Gov-
ernment's own speed; the migration
process will solely depend on the availabil-
ity of resources for the company to secure
and put into use.
Where is the financing coming from?
Programmes such as the ones described
before, qualify for financing under the UN-
FCCC (United Nations Framework Conven-
tion on Climate Change), while at the
same time, generating Certificate of Emis-
sion Reduction (Carbon Credits) which can
then be traded, creating for our nation an-
other revenue stream.
Making homes, vehicles, and businesses
more energy efficient is seen as a largely un-
tapped solution to addressing the problems
of pollution, global warming, energy security
and fossil fuel depletion. Energy security
must begin with energy efficiency, as it has
proven to be the best cost-effective strategy
for building economies without necessarily
growing energy consumption.
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