Cedrick Tilma, Aruba’s representative to the European Union’s institutions, Chair of the OCT Association’s Working Group on Energy and president of the Executive Committee of OCTA, was a key figure in both establishing the OCTA Innovation project and in bringing into being a Sustainable Energy Roadmap for OCTs, signed in June 2015 by OCT Heads of Government.
The importance for an OCT to innovate for economic growth and sustainable development.
Innovation is imperative to advance economic diversification for sustainable development across all economic sectors and activities of government and society. Community dialogue and innovation at all levels of education are a necessity. Aruba, for example, is establishing a Green faculty at the University of Aruba to ‘capture and disseminate on an academic level’ the knowledge that is being gathered as the Island is transforming into a green and low carbon economy. The use of renewable sources of energy is a key issue for OCTs to reduce dependency on the import of fossil fuels. The wider use of renewables is one of the top innovation priorities for OCTs.
The importance of renewable energy for OCTs.
The greatest challenge of our time is the rising temperature of our planet caused by worldwide CO2 emissions. Only with a drastic transformation of energy consumption and generation can this trend be curbed. Although no heavy polluters, OCTs also have a responsibility that could be turned into opportunity when making our contribution to CO2 reductions. Islands by default are ‘non-connected’ which make us ideal locations to test and apply sustainable energy applications. In addition, OCTs possess an almost limitless supply of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, marine, hydro and thermal. Fossil fuels and centralized power supply are in decline and OCTs need to be part of the global sustainable energy transformation from the start. It is my firm belief that this can be achieved by strategically connecting the opportunities of our islands to the right resources and partners.
The use of renewables is also promising for the creation of new jobs, such as in the expanding eco-tourism market.
To ensure that these goals are a priority, OCT Heads of Government drew up and signed the OCT Sustainable Energy Roadmap in June 2015. It contains a commitment to cut fossil fuel dependency and promote renewable energy using all available tools: technical, economic and regulatory.
The feasibility of all OCTs sourcing 100 per cent of their energy from renewables is directly linked to access of applicable funding. Innovative financing structures such as the EFSI guarantees through the European Investment Bank can greatly excel the penetration of renewable energy in the OCTs.
Best practices can be shared between OCTs. My own country, Aruba, has already set a goal of becoming 100% renewable. It has invested in windmills, solar parks, a waste to energy plant, as well as in smaller products, such as solar panels for school roofs. One of challenges in the greater use of renewables is to balance supply and consumption via energy storage systems.
The sustainable use of natural resources is also the focal sector for OCTs under the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
OCTA Innovation is driving in the same direction. It is providing technical assistance and funding pilot projects to advance innovation in all sectors, notably renewable energies as well as leveraging the transfer of the best innovative practice and knowledge developed in Europe.