Power System Possibilities: Energy Planning Updates

Power System Possibilities: Energy Planning Updates

The CCREEE’s IRRP programme continues in Belize, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago and has now kicked off in Saint Kitts and Nevis. This update covers activities completed in Q3, 2021.


Insights: Developing a vision

Future Possibilities for the Power System

In the Q2 update, the team shifted focus to the modelling activities which underpin the IRRP. These models, built with the assumptions, inputs and constraints identified collaboratively with stakeholders are critical to exploring system expansion, system operations and potential impacts on the power systems.

In parallel to model development last quarter, stakeholders began articulating their visions for the future through the scenario development process. This was an interesting phase in IRRP development, which differed in each IRRP Member State. In addition to the business-as-usual scenario, present across the board, scenarios examined traditional least-cost optimization, ambitious penetrations of renewable energy and opportunities for export.

Importantly, none of these possible visions of the future is right or wrong. Rather than predicting the future, scenarios need only be plausible and self-consistent narratives of how the future development of the power system may unfold.

Starting in Q2, but moving into Q3, the project teams moved into performing simulations using the developed models. This phase was also very interesting, as it is where hypotheses begin to get tested through rigorous analysis. As this activity progressed, some preliminary results were shared with stakeholders, partly to share some early insights coming out of the analyses and partly for the purposes of validation.

What types of insights are developed through these exercises? One might begin to understand the true total system cost of developing the business-as-usual system, particularly if risks, such as escalating fuel costs materialize over the period. One might see that over the medium- to long-term time horizon, that a system with increasing penetrations of renewables might hedge some of that risk, be shown quantitatively to be competitive with BAU and remain more stable than expected. One can see the impact of investment delays, fuel substitutions and variables outside of one’s control.


Understanding the Conditions Future Systems Will Face

The vulnerability assessment is the critical component that differentiates the IRRP from its predecessor, the IRP. The term encompasses a wide range of activities designed to fully characterize the risks to the power system over its lifetime. The ultimate goal of understanding these risks in detail, is to mitigate them and so enhance system resilience.

The process considers more traditional natural risks, which might be broadly categorised as hydrological, meteorological, and geophysical. But it can go further to include an examination of climatological risk and in particular the risks due to a changing climate.

In Q3 this work began to develop from the foundation built in the preceding quarter and described in our last update. The risk frameworks examined, the data collected, reviewed, processed and digitised, the platforms tested, the technical routines vetted to analyse susceptibility and hazard dynamics and the vulnerabilities investigated were all starting to coalesce into drafts of the final deliverables and report for member states.

Efforts began to generate improved climate model projections for key variables to facilitate this critical aspect of the analysis. Work in all elements of the vulnerability analysis moved from concept to practice with maps being digitized, others being created to determine fitness for purpose and sample climate datasets being shared to facilitate validation of methodologies for the teams. The working relationships with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) and the Climate Studies Group Mona (CSGM) were key to the development of the vulnerability analyses and the climate projections respectively.

As noted previously, ultimately the projections and vulnerability analyses will be integrated with the IRP work package to inform risk and evaluate appropriate mitigation and adaptation plans that in turn build greater resilience into the future power system.


Country Snapshots from Q3

Trinidad and Tobago

In T&T, at the start of Q3, subconsultants Cadmus presented their roundup on the demand projection. In this IRRP, given a robust but shorter-term projection from the utility, ENA and Cadmus approached the task slightly differently. A review of the existing comprehensive demand-projection work was done to explore any potential differentiation of findings or areas for value additions to the analyses. The findings were presented to stakeholders for feedback in July.

As noted before, T&T has unique elements that make this IRRP both interesting and beneficial, if somewhat challenging. These include the dynamics around fuel pricing, the industrial nature of the economy and the physically, the fact that T&T is a twin-island state, each island having its own unique characteristics. Models were developed through Q2 and refined in early Q3 that as far as possible were reflective of, and sensitive to these dynamics. An example of this is the fact that both scenarios and models of Tobago explore high penetrations of renewable energy, in light with the island’s vision, goals and potential.

For the vulnerability analyses in T&T, work progressed in line with the other IRRPs. One of the routines for flood hazard mapping used a watershed in Trinidad as a test example and proved a potential benefit to the IRRP process. Several vulnerability analysis activities in T&T benefitted from the provision of high-quality topographical data for the country. This is a valuable resource to facilitate these analyses, which was unavailable, and thus a limitation in other member states.



Guyana has proved one of the more complex and interesting IRRPs in the first phase of the the IRRP programme. Whilst each MS has interesting and challenging dynamics, no country in the IRRP programme – and perhaps the region – is poised to undergo the growth currently projected in Guyana. As a result, even making predictions for the near-term part of the planning horizon is a challenge.

While the data provided by Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) allowed a comprehensive grid model to be developed in PowerFactory, the development and examination of grid was an intensive process. The development of the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS) must consider the interconnection of nearby isolated grids, new and considerable sources of generation, grid strengthening efforts and otherwise significant growth.

Both sets of models continued to see minor refinements through Q3 to ensure they are fit to conduct analyses required to establish insights around a preferred expansion plan, to ensure adequacy, reliability, and stability of the system and to support the next steps in the process. After conducting simulations alongside the PLEXOS model coming out of Q2, some early insights are already starting to be developed, which we expect to deliver in Q4.

On the vulnerability analysis, Guyana was first in line for the generation of some of the updated the climate projections. The runs for select variables from the climate model were set up using Guyana, in such a way as to allow replication across other member states later. Here again, Guyana presents a slightly different case. Spatially, the country’s extents and variation in both nature and development typically require concentration of effort in select regions and areas. This practice is absolutely critical in a country the size of Guyana, but generally the process has illuminated the benefit of clearly outlining zones for deeper analysis. While analyses that cover broad regions yet deliver precision insights are most desirable, this type of work can be expensive, in both time and computational terms.



Belize’s Q3 saw more work being undertaken behind the scenes than collaboratively. After successive rounds of stakeholder interaction, intervention and guidance in Q2, the team dedicated time to refining the techno-economic model in PLEXOS carried from Q2 and continued development of the grid model in PowerFactory.

Elements of the vulnerability analyses also ramped up through early Q3. The building blocks of this exercise – hazard, vulnerability and exposure – were being collated and completed through the quarter. Nearing the end of Q3, engagement was expected to ramp up again for both presentation and review of recent analyses, and some capacity building. In particular, the grid model for the network must undergo some form of presentation and review to ensure that after porting for ETAP, the topology and outputs are reflective of today’s system.

Toward the end of Q3, the IRRP team, supported by CCREEE’s Knowledge Management and Capacity Development Expert, was preparing for the delivery of the final capacity-building session in Belize. This session, specific to the utility, is one that has been well-received in its previous iterations in T&T and Guyana and one that we now look forward to delivering for our utility stakeholders in Belize.

These engagements consist of two progressive sessions that expose stakeholders to several analytical functions in PowerFactory which are relevant to the IRRP. Further, wherever possible and with the agreement of utilities, we have recommended that sessions utilize the grid models developed for the IRRP. Lastly, but no less importantly, nominated participants get licences assigned to them for several weeks, which allow them to explore the software on their own..


Saint Kitts & Nevis Kicks Off IRRP; Starts IRRP Capacity-Building

The IRRP capacity-building programme began its second iteration with the kick-off of the IRRP programme for Saint Kitts and Nevis in Q3. Capacity building is a critical component of the IRRP programme and runs in parallel with the development of the IRRPs; in Saint Kitts and Nevis training started slightly ahead of the IRRP. This means stakeholders participating in the programme will have the opportunity to review and understand the process before participating in it.

Stakeholders from Saint Kitts and Nevis began with a foundational session to introduce them to, and familiarise them with the CARICOM Energy Knowledge Hub (CEKH), the platform on which this iteration of the programme is being delivered. Following this, they were given modules and live review sessions on Data Collection, Scenarios and KPIs, and Basic Demand Projections and Demand Side Management (DSM). The remaining sessions will primarily follow the established programme, but also benefit from feedback received in the first iteration and potential substitutions based on specific stakeholder needs.

The immediate goal of the programme is to build regional IRRP stakeholder capacity to be able to participate in all aspects of the power sector planning process. Long-term, its ultimate outcome is enable those in regional utilities, regulatory bodies, government agencies and educational institutions to drive the region’s resilient energy transition themselves.


About the CCREEE IRRP Programme

Within the CCREEE’s Climate Resilience Strategic Programme, the Centre is undertaking the development of IRRPs for CARICOM Member States, as outlined above. These IRRPs are facilitated by kind financial support from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the European Union (EU), the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the United Nations of Industrial and Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Kingdom of Spain through AECID, and technical support from the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), through the Climate Resilient and Sustainable Energy Supply (Cli-RES) Project.

The CCREEE also benefited from support to the IRRP Programme’s capacity development initiatives from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the US Department of Energy (NREL).