Joe Biden’s Caribbean Energy Summit

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By the Caribbean Journal staff

United States Vice President Joe Biden chaired a major summit in Washington DC this week covering Caribbean energy.

The US-Caribbean and Central America Energy Summit gathered Caribbean and Central America heads of government and energy ministers, along with multilaterals, private sector partners and others.

The summit caps off the work of the US-Caribbean-Central America Energy Security Task Force, which US President Barack Obama chaired last year.

Above: Biden with Caribbean leaders including Trinidad's Keith Rowley and Panama's Juan Carlos Varela

Above: Biden with Caribbean leaders including Trinidad’s Keith Rowley and Panama’s Juan Carlos Varela

It’s the second major Caribbean energy summit of its kind, following a similarly-Biden-led conference last year on energy security in the region.

That was followed by Obama’s creation of a Task Force for Caribbean and Central American Energy Security last April, aimed at diminishing the vulnerability of small energy markets in the region to fluctuations in global energy markets.

The US has been pushing for energy security in the Caribbean in recent years, with nearly $256 million committed by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation in the last two years for clean and renewable energy projects in the Caribbean and Central America.

And there is certainly support for it in the Caribbean, which has some of the highest energy costs on earth.

But it will be expensive: indeed, the task force pointed to estimates that to transform the Caribbean’s power systems alone, around $20 billion would be required over the next five to 10 years.

“Working together, and with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, the United States is confident that this region can become a model toward clean and efficient energy generation and use in the Western Hemisphere,” the government said in a statement. “Furthermore, The United States joins with other international and regional institutions, as well as public and private partners, to support efforts in the Caribbean and Central America to achieve a more secure energy future that supports economic growth and the environment and is based on the highest standards of regional cooperation, innovation, and investment.”

For a small region, the Caribbean has been making significant strides in green energy, from Aruba’s landmark push for 100 percent green energy production to Jamaica’s strides in wind energy.