By: Charlin Bodley, CCREEE Project Development and Gender Expert
The Caribbean region, while counted among nations mostly severely affected by climate change, is also undoubtedly a gold mine for a transition to a climate and economic resilient energy sector, holding substantial renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) potential. Despite forecasted contraction of economies resulting from the ongoing pandemic, the impressive evolution of both RE and EE technologies within the last decade, coupled by the availability of financing for energy infrastructural projects, provides renewed impetus for accelerating project implementation. When the CCREEE launched the Private Sector Stream its Project Preparation Facility (PPF) in November 2020, it was clear that it was just the beginning of the Centre’s close interaction with private sector within the Caribbean region, to address pronounced gaps between project concepts and successful investments.
In keeping with our virtually stimulated world, the Facility began accepting applications through its web portal, allowing project proposals to be submitted from all across the CARICOM region for consideration. Eligible projects are inducted into the PPF pipeline of projects and receive advisory services and other technical support. Of course, the end goal is to produce a portfolio of investment projects, which can easily attract financing towards successful implementation.
How then, has the CCREEE engaged potential clients during the last few months? Two information sessions have been held in the first quarter of this year, to sensitize potential applicants to the facility on the services being offered, ranging from project proposal and business plan refinement to finance structuring advice, among many others. The first session targeted private developers, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other private sector players who are expected to interact directly with the facility through its portal. This session recorded a total of 72 participants. The second session, similar in format and with an equal duration of 1.5 hours, targeted regional institutions and associations who serve or network with private sector proponents within the energy space. Also, among the 62 attendees to this session, were representatives of financial institutions who are well placed to advise clients on the services of the PPF. Of further relevance to financiers the ambition of the PPF to create a marketplace for investment–ready projects and investors, through the provision of match-making services and staging of investment fora, was highlighted.
Notable areas of interest included the eligibility of specific technologies, including hybrid fossil fuel-RE projects, minimum and maximum project investment value, and RE nameplate capacity, and lead times for feedback after application submissions. The CCREEE also presented its PPF partnerships with a number of other players in the space, including the CARICOM Development Fund’s (CDF) Credit Risk Abatement Facility, CRAF, and with the Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN)–GET.invest consortium.
What then should you look forward to from the PPF in the coming weeks and months? Following the completion and endorsement of the Facility’s full business plan, the region should anticipate many near future developments, including the launch of the public sector stream to take place through a high-level round table discussion on May 4th 2021. A third information session will then follow, targeting public sector players across Member States towards the ending of May.
Lastly, both public sector and private clients can look forward to a training session on proposal writing for RE and EE projects to enhance applications to receive support from the Facility. This training, in true CCREEE style, will be the first to support continuous efforts at building capacity to accelerate the development of sustainable energy projects; an unavoidable path towards a transformed energy sector.