The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy and Climate Resilience Organization (SIDS DOCK), the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), and the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centers (GN-SEC) – including the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) – jointly hosted the webinar “Ocean Energy Technologies for Blue Economies in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).” The webinar was conducted in November 2020, virtually via conferencing and took place in conjunction with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Energy Month.
The webinar’s principal aim was to contribute to the envisaged Ocean Energy Platform for Blue Economies, advocated by UNIDO and SIDS DOCK, in close coordination with the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centers (GN-SEC). The goal of the platform is to build a bridge between the industry and research players, which need to test new solutions in various climates and contexts, and the interest of SIDS and coastal developing countries to get access to technology and expertise. Currently, the exchange on these future-oriented issues is limited.
The platform will raise awareness on different ocean energy technologies, and their potential to help SIDS in addressing issues such as lowering energy cost, employment generation, reducing the negative trade balances due to petroleum imports, and new challenges posed by changing climate (reduction in freshwater, reduction on fish catch due to warning oceans and bleaching of coral, generating alternate industries to replace those that will be negatively such as farming). The platform will also create awareness on the potential contribution of ocean energy to the implementation of Blue Economy Strategies of SIDS.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown once again the high level of economic vulnerability of SIDS and their significant dependence on international markets to maintain a functioning economy. In some cases, the import cost of petroleum fuels is greater than the total export earnings of the country. Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy can greatly help to reduce energy spending, while strengthening resilience to extremes, such as climate change and COVID-19, at the same time.
Generally, SIDS are blessed with an abundance of renewable energy resources. Many of them are increasingly competitive in comparison to fossil fuel alternatives. Despite ocean energy representing the largest renewable energy resource endowment for SIDS, up to now it has not been the subject of a serious and focused effort. The market introduction of these technologies is facing manifold barriers, related to policy and regulation, technology availability, knowledge management and awareness, capacity building, as well as finance and entrepreneurship. There is urgent need to mobilize financing for resources assessments, feasibility studies and technology demonstrations in SIDS.
UNIDO, SIDS DOCK and the GN-SEC, are planning to launch the Ocean Energy Platform for Blue Economies, at the Vienna Energy Forum (VEF), scheduled to take place from 6 to 7 July 2021, at the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna, Austria, at a Special Side Event: Ocean Energy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Blue Economy: Perspectives from Small Island Developing States (SIDS). It is intended that the 20 ocean energy professionals, identified during the webinar, will become “Ocean Energy Champions” to support the work of the Ocean Energy Platform for Blue Economies.