Yesterday the Climate & Energy Program of the Worldwatch Institute officially launched its first Sustainable Energy Roadmap in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Roadmap, which was completed with financial support from the Energy & Environment Partnership in Central America (EEP) and with guidance from the National Energy Commission of the Dominican Republic (CNE), focuses on strategies the government of the Dominican Republic can use to begin moving toward a more sustainable energy future.
The Worldwatch research team worked with 3TIER, a renewable resource mapping company, to develop detailed solar resource assessments for the country’s two major cities, Santo Domingo and Santiago, as well as wind resource assessments in six provinces. The report also explores the potential for distributed and centralized renewable power generation in the country, job creation opportunities from renewables, and challenges facing the integration of renewable energy into the existing electricity grid. It then examines the Dominican Republic’s energy regulatory framework and the current status of the country’s financial sector for supporting renewable energy growth. Finally, the Roadmap contains strong and actionable recommendations the government can follow to begin ramping up the presence of renewable energy, drawing down its dependence on fossil fuel imports and creating an energy future that is socially, environmentally and financially more sustainable.
In recent years, the government of the Dominican Republic has committed to reducing the country’s carbon footprint while providing secure and sustainable energy access for its citizens. Like many developing nations, the Dominican Republic has contributed relatively little to the world’s climate crisis but is profoundly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including water shortages, reduced agricultural production, and severe damage due to increased storm intensity and rising sea levels.
Throughout the project, Worldwatch worked with stakeholders from the public, private, and academic sectors to tailor the Roadmap to the specific needs of the Dominican Republic. Team members made multiple trips to the country to consult with decision makers and industry professionals to ensure the quality and accuracy of the Roadmap’s research and to make sure that its recommendations address critical areas that are currently slowing-down renewable energy growth.
Some of the Roadmap’s highlights include:
- In 2010, the Dominican Republic spent $2.6 billion on fossil fuel imports, equivalent to more than 5 percent of its GDP. Additional costs arise from public subsidies as well as health care costs and other externalities. Nearly 90 percent of the country’s electricity production is fossil fuel-based.
- The Dominican grid system has one of the highest rates of distribution losses in the world, nearing 38 percent in 2010. Electricity instability costs the country an estimated $1 billion-plus annually.
- The country’s two major cities, Santo Domingo and Santiago, have strong solar resources, comparing favorably with most of the rest of the Caribbean region and significantly exceeding the insolation of areas in Europe and Asia where solar power penetration is currently highest.
Key Recommendations from the Report:
- The Dominican Republic should incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy into a modernized grid system through holistic energy planning. Complementary resources from different geographic locations can be integrated into the national grid to reduce the variability of renewable generation.
- The right policy mix is vital to a sustainable energy transition. The Dominican government has shown strong commitment to a sustainable energy future, including developing a target of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025, creating financial incentives to promote renewable energy, and aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by 50 percent relative to 2010 levels,. These policies and incentives need to be fully implemented and supported with strong funding.
- Administrative procedures for renewable energy investment should be simplified and streamlined—project developers currently need to go through a 14-step process to get a renewable energy license. Creating a single administrative window for renewable energy permitting would help reduce this bureaucratic burden.
- International financing, including climate finance, can help the Dominican Republic fund its transition to sustainable energy.
Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy program identifies key components of energy systems that aim to de-carbonize the global economy, boost energy efficiency, spur innovation and job creation, address resource scarcity, and reduce local environmental pollution. The report, Roadmap to a Sustainable Energy System: Harnessing the Dominican Republic’s Wind and Solar Resources, is a strong step toward successfully showing – on a country scale – that which needs to take place globally.