Energy is at the heart of our daily lives. We rely on a stable and sustainable energy supply to support the majority of our activities, from ensuring our children’s attendance at digital school to meeting deadlines at work, to relaxing at home with our loved ones. Unfortunately, across the Caribbean region, our national energy grids often face pressure from a variety of sources, which can undermine their ability to provide power reliably. A key method for addressing this issue is strong, comprehensive planning, which can be the difference between a nation’s ability to recover from significant challenges and a population left without power and the critical services dependent on it for a significant amount of time.

In recognition of this, the Climate Resilient and Sustainable Energy Supply (Cli-RES) project is supporting the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) in its implementation of the Integrated Resource and Resilience Planning (IRRP) project.

CCREEE has partnered with CARICOM Member States in this initiative, which involves the creation of a long-term roadmap tailored specifically to a nation’s unique energy needs, resources and context. The more traditional Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) focused on preparing for future electricity demands from the perspective of energy efficiency and generation, integrating different types of energy resources to ensure that those demands can be met. The IRRP project builds on this, bringing resilience planning to the forefront by catering for expected external threats due to extreme weather events, the effects of climate change, natural disasters and large changes in demand caused by major events such as a pandemic.

A robust IRRP charts a 15-25-year path for the holistic development of a country’s power sector with an eye towards optimising the power grid in line with that country’s energy goals.

It takes a “least-regret” approach to find strategies for maintaining a stable energy supply based on known constraints, resources and expected hazards. The process of creating an IRRP involves collective partnerships with key stakeholders, such as governments, utilities and regulators. It consists of a comprehensive utility planning exercise that includes data gathering, metrics selection, forecasting, scenario determination, strategic and action planning and the creation of an evaluation process. The result of this process is a living document that evolves in line with national developments and ensures that a nation’s energy sector is progressing in line with the wider region’s transition to energy sustainability and climate resilience.

IRRPs are currently being developed in Belize, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, with each plan geared towards achieving the nation’s specific goals within their individual contexts.

These goals may include stability, energy efficiency, diversification, resilience, cost-containment and increased energy access. Once implemented, each country’s IRRP will serve as the foundation for the improvement of their energy sectors with the aim of providing reliable energy services that are prepared to handle and rebound from the impacts of external hazards.