The Caribbean region has an abundance of renewable natural resources that can play key roles in helping us follow the path set out in the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS). From solar to wind power, hydro to geothermal energy and ocean energy to biofuel, there is a wide variety of renewable energy potential across CARICOM.

However, most of these resources remain untapped due to a lack of investment in projects that would seek to utilise them.

The Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) has taken on the mantle of bridging this gap through the establishment of the Project Preparation Facility (PPF) in November of 2020. A project development resource designed to help CARICOM sustainable energy projects prepare to attract the financing they need, this facility works in tandem with the Credit Risk Abatement Facility (CRAF). Established simultaneously by the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF), CRAF aims to make sustainable energy financing more attractive to lenders by mitigating some of the lending risks and familiarising lenders with these types of projects. Together, these facilities aim to guide projects through the pipeline from development to financing so they can proceed to execution and do their part to help our region reach its sustainable energy goals.

The PPF is open to any project owners, private sector developers, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), mixed capital companies and public agencies that are trying to launch a sustainable energy project throughout CARICOM. They may begin their engagement with the PPF via the web application portal or through open calls held throughout the year. The process then kicks off with an evaluation, during which a committee will determine whether the project is ready to be inducted into the facility. Once inducted, the project’s needs are assessed against a variety of PPF services, including refinement of the business plan or project proposal, conduction of feasibility or gender studies and anything else that is needed to take the project to bankability. When this technical support phase is completed, the project is investment-ready and the matchmaking process begins. At this point, the project may engage with CRAF or it may proceed to the PPF’s biannual matchmaking events.

The PPF has received a number of project proposals since its establishment more than a year ago and, while some have made it through the evaluation process, others were not quite at the level of concept development required for the PPF’s technical support. This is due to the fact that many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) lack the expertise to prepare commercially-viable project proposals. As a result, the CCREEE is currently working on bridging yet another gap through the creation of a help desk aimed at taking these less-developed ideas to the concept stage, at which point they will be ready to engage with the PPF.

This level of end-to-end support for fledgling Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency projects provides a strong boost to CARICOM’s goal of reaching 45% renewable energy penetration by 2027, bringing our region that much closer to a time where its citizens can enjoy reliable, sustainable and resilient energy services across the board.