Stuart Young, Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Energy and Energy Industries has argued in favour of a balanced approach to energy production, acknowledging the transition challenges to renewable energy sources and the essential role of hydrocarbon-based resources in the nation’s economy. He addressed dissenting voices calling for a total move away from hydrocarbons, emphasizing the continued relevance of natural gas and the importance of utilising advancing technology in its application.
“The reality is natural gas is going to be around for decades to come. It is a few squeaky wheels making the noise that everybody must come off hydrocarbons,” Young said.
He communicated the government’s position during a June 5 address at the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Conference.
“… with no apologies for it whatsoever… We will continue using and utilising our God-given resources of oil and gas, because that is what keeps our economy going” stated Young. However, he assured that Trinidad and Tobago is committed to reducing emissions, citing collaborations with stakeholders like BP and Shell, and the launch of the 112-megawatt solar Project Lara, set to meet 10% of the country’s electricity needs.
Young discussed the economic consequences of recent international events, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, on the cost of renewable energy projects. The Ukraine war had the effect of driving up costs for solar and wind projects. The International Energy Agency (IEA) had said in a 2022 report that the costs would remain higher than pre-pandemic levels due to elevated commodity and freight prices. Young cited Project Lara, Trinidad’s large-scale solar project, which experienced escalated costs due to the conflict.
Young sees Trinidad, with the utilisation of its natural gas resource for power, as being in a privileged position compared to neighbours. He recognised that CARICOM nations are grappling with outdated fuel sources and emission reduction pressures.
“As we have discussions with providing energy security, and we look at our CARICOM neighbours and the countries, and you need to go to renewables, look at solar, look at geothermal, look at wind turbines, nobody talks about what’s the cost.. [that] have been driven up.”
Young expressed the urgent need for energy security in the region, particularly among smaller CARICOM neighbours. But he stressed that the conversation should not shy away from the harsh realities of bankability.