The Dominican Republic ismaking strides in promoting renewable energy as a way to reduce its heavy dependence on imported fossil fuels. As part of our work collaborating with government and private stakeholders to develop low-carbon energy roadmaps for the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean countries, the Worldwatch Institute is conducting socioeconomic impact assessments for planned and potential renewable energy projects, focusing on solar and wind for the current stage of the analysis. The Dominican Republic has several solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power projects lined up, and the renewable resource potential to significantly expand on these investments. Examining the job creation potential of these renewable energy projects is an important first step toward understanding the full scope of benefits that renewable energy can provide, especially with high levels of unemployment in the Dominican Republic – 14.2 percent in 2010.


A worker installs solar PV rooftop panels.

Despite a rapidly growing economy (7.8 percent GDP growth in 2010), about half of the Dominican population lives below the poverty line. One reason that economic growth has failed to translate fully into widespread socioeconomic benefits is the Dominican Republic’s dependence on fossil fuel imports. The Dominican economy is highly susceptible to oil price shocks, with oil imports accounting for 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010, down from 9 percent during the global price spike in 2008. Domestic renewable generation can reduce economic vulnerability due to reliance on fossil fuel imports, but can it create enough jobs to tackle the country’s unemployment and improve the standard of living?

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Caribbean renewable energy, Dominican Republic, green jobs, Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap, solar PV, wind power

Earlier this year The Worldwatch Institute went to Santo Domingo for the 2011 Caribbean Clean Energy Business Forum. Alexander Ochs, the Director of our Climate and Energy team, presented on our Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap methodology and upcoming work in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica.

Other presenters included Rene Jean-Jumeau, the Coordinator of the Energy Sector Management Unit at the Haitian Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications and one of our key partners in Haiti. He spoke about the Haitian energy system and the needs and opportunities for investment in renewable energy.

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biomass, Caribbean, Caribbean renewable energy, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Low-Carbon Development, Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap, low-carbon roadmap, renewable energy, small hydro, solar, wind

Throughout the 1960s 70s and 80s, Cuba traded one ton of sugar to the Soviet Union in exchange for four tons of oil. This agreement helped the Cuban economy progress in the face of the U.S. trade embargo. But the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 ushered in what Cubans call the country’s “Special Period,” an economic crisis punctuated by a sudden lack of fossil fuel energy that crippled every sector of the country’s economy.

Oil shortages have left Cuba with old-school ways of manifesting the the power of the future.

This major setback resulted in an economy that moves at a glacial pace. The Economist Intelligence Unit reports that despite Cuba’s own oil reserves, a healthy volume of imports from Venezuela, and large investment in the island’s refining capacities, troubles such as inconsistent supply and electricity shortages persist. As a result, the country launched its “Energy Revolution” in 2006. The goal was – and still is – to decentralize power generation, improve transmission lines, replace old appliances with energy-efficient ones, and increase the presence of renewable energy sources.

To that end, Cuba’s state-owned Zerus S.A. recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Havana Energy Ltd., a U.K.-based renewable energy company, to develop a 30 megawatt MW pilot project for generating electricity from sugarcane stalk residue, or bagasse, at a sugar mill in Ciro Redondo. It’s the first step of a larger project that has the potential to satisfy almost half of the island’s 3,000 MW power needs and to possibly deliver a return on investment in just five years.

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Caribbean renewable energy, developing countries, energy, renewable energy, renewable energy investment, sugarcane bagasse