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Renewable Energy Sector Development in the Caribbean: Current Trends and Lessons from History

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Shirley, Rebekah, Kammen, Daniel
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Island regions and isolated communities represent an understudied area of not only clean energy development but also of innovation. Caribbean states have for some time shown interest in developing a regional sustainable energy policy and in implementing measures which could help to protect its member states from volatile oil markets while promoting reliance on local resources. The authors examine four case studies of renewable energy advancements being made by public utility companies and independent energy companies in the Caribbean. They attempt to locate renewable energy advances in a broader historical framework of energy sector development, indicating a few policy lessons. The authors find that different degrees of regulatory and legislative sophistication have evolved in different islands. Islands should have specialized policy focus, contrasting the ad-hoc nature of current regional energy policy discussion, according to the authors. They also conduct a cost benefit analysis, which shows that these early, innovative alternative energy projects prove to be both profitable and significant sources of emissions reduction and job creation, which lends support to the potential benefits of regional energy policy.